The Gym Dogs were one of five women’s gymnastics teams at the Fort Worth Convention Center for Saturday night’s Metroplex Challenge, in which No. 9 Georgia competed against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 7 Louisiana State, No. 16 Oregon State, and unranked Washington. After putting together a solid performance against Stanford on Monday, however, the Red and Black started slowly in the Lone Star State and never recovered against a quality field.
Georgia began the meet on the balance beam, on which the Red and Black recently have struggled. The Athenians’ performance on the apparatus was decidedly average, as junior Lindsey Cheek and sophomore Sarah Persinger recorded 9.8s and junior Kaylan Earls and senior Shayla Worley registered 9.825s. The Gym Dogs carded a cumulative 48.975 in the first rotation, while the Tigers notched a 49.45 on the bars, the Sooners carded a 49.225 on the vault, and the Beavers managed a 49.025 on the floor.
Georgia made up a modicum of lost ground in the floor exercise in the second rotation. Senior Christa Tanella’s 9.9, Worley’s 9.875, and SEC freshman of the week Brandie Jay’s 9.825 paved the way to an overall 49.075 in the event, while the other competitors earned marks of 49.225 on the vault (Oregon State), 49.075 on the bars (Washington), and 48.75 on the beam (LSU). After two rotations, the Gym Dogs’ 98.05 trailed Louisiana State’s 98.2 and Oregon State’s 98.25.
Freshman Brittany Rogers’s 9.9, Jay’s 9.875, and junior Cat Hires’s 9.825 enabled the Red and Black to earn a 49.2 in the vault in the third rotation, but that same stanza saw the Sooners card a 49.45 on the bars, the Tigers put together a 49.4 on the floor, and the Huskies compile a 48.775 on the beam. Of the two teams who had completed three events, Georgia owned a 147.25 score that lagged behind LSU’s 147.6, and the Athenians were in possession of the meet’s best mark thus far only on one apparatus.
Georgia enjoyed a bye during the fourth rotation, during which LSU earned a 49.5 on the vault, Oregon State earned a 49.425 on the bars, Oklahoma earned a 49.325 on the beam, and Washington earned a 48.225 on the floor. In the meet’s final stanza, the Gym Dogs put together an impressive 49.425 on the bars, thanks to sophomore Chelsea Davis’s 9.95, Rogers’s 9.9, Cheek’s 9.875, and Tanella’s and Worley’s 9.85s. As solid as those scores were, they were too late to do any good, as the Sooners concluded with a 49.275 on the floor, the Beavers finished with a 49.15 on the beam, and the Huskies received a 48.8 on the vault.
In the end, the Red and Black finished a disappointing fourth. The Athenians’ 196.775 mark placed them behind Oklahoma (197.275), Louisiana State (197.1), and Oregon State (196.825). Only lowly Washington (194.875) kept the Gym Dogs out of the cellar. In Athens last Monday, the Georgia gymnasts earned eight marks of 9.9 or better; in Fort Worth tonight, they carded just four, two of which came in the final rotation.
The news, of course, is not all bad; in the three weeks since Georgia opened the season with a loss to Oklahoma, the Gym Dogs improved by 1.35 points in their next showdown with the Sooners, who inched upward only .825 in the same span. Moreover, Brittany Rogers notched a pair of 9.9 marks, demonstrating the development of the team’s emerging underclassmen. Nevertheless, the undeniable progress of the team back to its proper stature continues to have its fits and starts, which, while understandable, remain a source of frustration as we await the full re-emergence of the proudest program in collegiate women’s gymnastics.