Just two days after their narrow escape at Arkansas, the Gym Dogs spent Sunday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C., taking part in their third road meet in 10 days.
The Red and Black started well in the first rotation, recording the highest team score of the event's opening stanza when Courtney Kupets's 9.925 on the bars helped to earn the Georgia gymnasts a 49.125 score which led those posted by N.C. State (49.075 in the vault), Ohio State (48.85 in the floor exercise), and Iowa (47.950 on the balance beam).
N.C. State stood in second place after the first rotation, thanks largely to the 9.9 score attained by Leigha Hancock, whose family previously had been known chiefly for its florid handwriting.
The Gym Dogs added to their lead in the second frame, turning in a dominant performance on the beam highlighted by the efforts of Kupets (9.95), Tiffany Tolnay (9.925), and Megan Dowlen (9.9). Georgia's 49.5 was the highest team score of the second rotation, in which the second-place spot went to Ohio State for its 48.975 in the vault.
At the halfway point of the meet, the Red and Black were in first place (98.625), trailed by Ohio State (97.825), N.C. State (97.55), and Iowa (96.25). The third rotation had the Gym Dogs competing in the floor exercise, where Grace Taylor's 9.9 and Abby Stack's 9.875 set the pace for a cumulative score of 49.225, once again leaving challengers Iowa (49.075 in the vault), Ohio State (48.6 on the bars), and N.C. State (48.375 on the beam) in Georgia's wake.
Iowa's strong showing in the vault was aided by the 9.8 registered by Katie Burke, whose family previously had been known for Enlightenment political philosophy and swimsuit modeling.
To the event's final quadrant we went, with Georgia sporting a 147.85-146.45 lead over its nearest challenger, Ohio State. The Gym Dogs' turn at the vault began auspiciously enough when Marcia Newby commenced the fourth rotation by posting a 9.9. That was followed by Paige Burns's 9.8, Adrienne Dishman's 9.85, Dowlen's 9.9, and Katie Heenan's 9.95 to give the Red and Black a 49.4 tally for the event and a 197.25 cumulative score for the meet . . . which was a good deal more like what we have come to expect from a Suzanne Yoculan-coached squad.
The second-best scores of the fourth rotation and of the meet were claimed by N.C. State (48.725 in the floor exercise, 194.625 overall), but, in the end, it wasn't a close contest. A quick glance at the array of names listed above reveals that Georgia's performance in North Carolina was a total team effort.
I don't know what Coach Yoculan did between Friday night and Sunday afternoon, but, whatever it was, it worked. Suddenly, the Gym Dogs once again look like a team that can contend for the national title.