Danna's Dawgs Bounce Back With A Win In Columbia

Sophomore Sarah Persinger takes the floor at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Missouri - UGA Sports Communications

After a thoroughly disappointing loss to the Florida Gators last week, the 8th-ranked Georgia Gym Dogs bounced back in fine fashion, putting away the SEC-newcomer Missouri Tigers in Columbia, 196.825-194.550.

(Ed. note: After an entire day devoted solely to the departure of our dear Mayor, we now return you to your regularly-scheduled weblog, already in progress.)

I have to admit that, after last week, my confidence was a little shaken. I hate losing to Florida (well, I hate everything about Florida), and the fact that we seemed to crumble under the pressure of a lead on beam fractured my confidence just a little bit.

Fortunately, the Georgia ladies were not similarly moved, and followed up their loss by travelling to Mizzou and putting up a score that was over .450 more than their season average to date, including a very solid score on beam (their perennial weak spot). Full scores are available here, and my recap of the highlights follows.

The Dawgs started the meet on the uneven bars, and Sophomore Chelsea Davis led the way with a 9.95, a career-high for her. Freshman Brittany Rogers continued her impressive debut season with a score of 9.925, and the Dawgs didn't have to count a score lower than 9.800 enroute to a rotation total of 49.400, which would prove to be their highest of the night. Mizzou began the night with a 48.875 on vault, which would also prove to be their best rotation of the night.

The second rotation saw Danna's Dawgs on vault, where Freshman Brandie Jay came up big with a 9.90 to lead the scoring. It was a solid rotation, even though no other gymnast carded more than a 9.825, because the Dawgs also didn't have to count a score lower than 9.80 enroute to a rotation score of 49.150. Mizzou took to the bars for their second rotation, entering a score of 48.725. This means that, at "halftime," the Gym Dogs led the Tigers 98.55-97.575.

Georgia took to the floor for their third rotation, and were led by Senior Noel Couch's 9.925 score. It wasn't the strongest floor they've ever had, with no other gymnast carding more than a 9.85 (Christa Tanella's score), and they had to count a 9.725 from Shayla Worley. The goal is to always score more than a 49 for every rotation, however, and the Gym Dogs did that, carding a 49.125. It was more than a match for Mizzou's beam rotation score of 48.150, and the meet was all but over (though, in truth, the Tigers were overmatched from the beginning).

The Gym Dogs' final rotation was on the dreaded beam. The ladies turned in a solid performance, however, led by Senior Shayla Worley's magnificent 9.95. They only had to count one score lower than a 9.825 (Kaylan Earls' 9.700) enroute to a rotation of 49.150. Mizzou finished on floor with a 48.800 rotation, giving Danna's Dawgs the victory.

At the end of the day, I'm very encouraged by this performance. The Gym Dogs bounced back from a poor meet, and they did it against a mediocre team. But instead of playing down to the level of their competitors, they did what great teams do: they competed against their own selves, trying to perform their best regardless of the quality of the team facing them across the field gym. They didn't have their best meet of the year, but they performed consistently, putting in a workmanlike effort and posting a very good overall score.

Once again, Coach Durante gives us reason to hope in her first season. Her team is starting to get better, perform more consistently, and even put up solid numbers on the beam. As has been the case over the past few meets, we can look back upon this performance and seriously entertain thoughts of making the Super Six for the first time since the Suzanne Yoculan era.

Georgia's next meet is next Friday, March 1, against LSU in Red Stick. Until then...

Go Dawgs!

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