On Saturday night, the Gym Dogs were in action in the Auburn Regional, where their last postseason meet seven years previously saw Georgia capture the first of five consecutive national championships. Though it is not yet clear whether the Athenians will win their first NCAA title since 2009, such an outcome appears more likely following the Classic City Canines’ fine performance this evening.
The Red and Black opened the postseason on the bars, where 9.85s from Chelsea Davis and Shayla Worley, and 9.9s from Kat Ding and Gina Nuccio, gave Georgia a 49.3 tally in the first rotation for an early first-place tie with Michigan. On the beam, Ding’s 9.85 capped off a turn on that apparatus featuring a trio of Bulldog 9.825s, producing an overall 49.1 score and a 98.4 cumulative mark that put the visiting Athenians in the lead after two rotations.
Following a bye, the Gym Dogs carded a combined 49.4 in the floor exercise. The Red and Black declined to count one of three 9.85s, preferring instead to rely on Nuccio’s 9.875, Davis’s career-high 9.9, and Noel Couch’s 9.925. This gave Georgia a commanding 147.8-147.1 lead over the second-place Wolverines following four frames of competition.
Next up for the Gym Dogs was the vault, where 9.9s from Couch and Ding paced a 49.3 effort that pushed the Athenians’ final team score to 197.1 heading into the final rotation, during which Georgia had a bye. The clubhouse leaders did not see their edge imperiled during the last round of competition; although a difference of 0.55 separated fifth-place West Virginia’s 195.9 from runner-up Oregon State’s 196.45, the Red and Black claimed the NCAA Regional title by a 0.65-point margin.
Ding won the all-around with a 39.5 total, and Couch came in second with a 39.425 mark. Georgia posted the meet’s top two results in the floor exercise and on the uneven parallel bars. Two weeks hence, the Gym Dogs will arrive in Gwinnett County to compete for the program’s eleventh national title as a regional champion after a dominant performance. Tonight, Jay Clark’s gymnasts performed the way we expected them to perform when Suzanne Yoculan was in charge.