We got our first look at the road the Gym Dogs will have to take today, and as usual, it's a bear. (That's not a bad thing, though.) The 2014 schedule shapes up thusly:
- 1/10 - @Oklahoma
- 1/12 - @Stanford
- 1/17 - vs. LSU
- 1/20 - vs. Iowa
- 1/24 - @Florida
- 2/1 - vs. Kentucky
- 2/7 - @Alabama
- 2/14 - vs. Missouri
- 2/21 - @Auburn
- 3/1 - vs. Arkansas
- 3/8 - vs. Denver
- 3/15 - @Utah
And the postseason lineup:
- 3/22 - SEC Championships (@Birmingham, AL)
- 4/5 - NCAA Athens Regional (Athens, GA)
- 4/18-4/20 - NCAA Championships (@Birmingham, AL)
This season's schedule includes 7 of the 12 teams that competed in the 2013 NCAA Championships, including all of the teams that finished ahead of us except for UCLA. We've also drawn away meets against the defending national champion Sunshine State Gym Saurians in Gainesville and in our annual grudge match with the Alabama gymnasts in Tuscaloosa.
Unlike most other college sports, though, such a difficult schedule is not a handicap. In NCAA Gymnastics, the polls (which control whether you make the NCAA's and what your seeding is when you get there) are determined mathematically, not by voters. Therefore, competing against the best teams can actually help us, since the difficult competition helps to raise the level of our own performance.
If this is the complete schedule, it also looks to be all-dual-meet, which would be a rarity. (If I'm not mistaken, it might be the first time our regular-season schedule has had only dual meets, which are meets with only two teams competing.)
Coach Durante had the following to say about Georgia's difficult road:
We are going to be tested early and often... We start right out of the gate with Oklahoma and Stanford, and that allows our freshmen the opportunity to start their careers on the road before they compete at home. We have some great competition coming in at home, and we are extremely excited to host regionals again.
We were thrilled to make a return to [the] Super Six last year, but we feel like we have some unfinished business. The team has worked all summer with that in their minds as they prepare for the season.
This is what I love to hear from the Gym Dogs coach... never letting up. Yes, it was a major milestone to return to the Super Six for the first time since the Yoculan era, but she's not satisfied... she wants more. Georgia was indeed a relatively distant 6th in the Super Six, and there is plenty of room for improvement. I applaud Coach Durante for taking on the challenge of getting even better and helping return Georgia Gymnastics to the place where it belongs... at the top of the heap.
We'll have more Gym Dogs coverage later in the year as we get closer to the start of the season, including an updated "Gymnastics primer" for those who are new to the sport. Until then...