One week after dispatching No. 5 Alabama, the sixth-ranked Gym Dogs went on the road to Lexington to face No. 18 Kentucky. Due to a second-half collapse by the Red and Black, the Wildcats succeeded in forging a stunning 195.825-195.825 tie.
Georgia began the meet on the bars, on which the Red and Black’s season average of 49.279 was the second-best in the country. Led by sophomore Chelsea Davis’s and freshman Brittany Rogers’s 9.9s, the Gym Dogs tallied a 49.3 to edge the home team’s 48.925 on the vault.
The Athenians did well in second rotation, as well, using junior Lindsey Cheek’s 9.9 and freshman Brandie Jay’s and Rogers’s 9.925s to post a cumulative 49.275 on the vault, on which Georgia ranks third nationally with a 49.308 average. The Wildcats’ 49.025 score on the bars gave the Gym Dogs a 98.575-97.95 edge at the midpoint.
The Red and Black faltered in the second half, however. Georgia spent the third rotation on the floor, where the Gym Dogs average a 15th-ranked 48.933. The visitors were forced to count a pair of 9.725s, and they failed to card a score better than 9.875, along the way to an overall 48.95. Kentucky’s beam score of 48.75 still left Georgia ahead, 147.525-146.7, however.
On the balance beam, where the Red and Black rank eighth in the land with a 48.972 average, five of six Gym Dogs earned marks of 9.75 or below to put Georgia in serious peril of being defeated. Fortunately, junior Kaylan Earls was at the anchor position, and she delivered a clutch 9.875 to bring the Athenians’ total for the apparatus to 48.3. Unfortunately, inasmuch as the Blue and White put together a 49.125 on the floor, Earls’s heroics only were able to force a deadlock, not produce a victory.
No excuses: Georgia was tied by a team the Gym Dogs ought to have beaten. Though the Red and Black were coming off of a big win over a fifth-ranked rival and no doubt were looking ahead to next week’s showdown with No. 1 Florida, the Athenians should have been ready to finish strong tonight, but they obviously weren’t. Of the six scores contributed by seniors, half were marks of 9.75 or lower; freshman phenomenon Brittany Rogers’s 9.9 and 9.925 scores in the first two rotations were followed by a 9.1 and a 9.675 in the last two; Kaylan Earls’s 9.875 on the balance beam followed a 9.725 in the floor exercise. Across the board, the Gym Dogs failed to close the deal in the second half.
After such a strong performance last week, such a lackluster second half was profoundly disappointing. Fortunately, there has never been anything wrong with being a Georgia Bulldog that beating the Florida Gators wouldn’t fix, so Danna Durante and her gymnastics squad will have the chance to atone for this meet next week, but, for now, this was a major letdown.