George F. Will, With a Happy Eye But . . . : America and the World 1997-2002
On a busy night for University of Georgia athletics, Dennis Felton's basketball Bulldogs went down to defeat in the S.E.C. tournament and Dave Perno's Diamond Dogs claimed an overdue victory by a convincing margin, so it fell to Suzanne Yoculan's Gym Dogs to determine whether the Red and Black would end the day with more wins than losses in the competitive endeavor bearing the same name originally applied to the Platonic ideal of sports.
The Georgia gymnastics squad, coming off of its first defeat in two years, responded by posting the team's and the country's second-highest score this season. In their final regular-season meet against 12th-ranked Michigan, the Gym Dogs began with a bang when Ashley Kupets posted a perfect 10 in the vault during the first rotation, staking Georgia to an early lead. The Red and Black earned a 49.5 cumulative score in the initial event while the Maize and Blue, propelled by Becky Bernard's 9.925 on the bars, chalked up a 49.175 tally.
Obligatory Bo Derek reference.
When Georgia took its turn on the bars in the second rotation, it was Courtney Kupets who collected the event's high score for the Red and Black, receiving the 9.95 that gave Coach Yoculan's charges a 49.45 overall. Nellie Kippley's 9.9 in the vault paced a 49.2 Michigan effort.
Courtney McCool and Tiffany Tolnay each earned 9.9s on the balance beam in the third rotation, enabling the Gym Dogs to garner the 49.275 that outpaced Michigan's 49.25 in the floor exercise. McCool's 9.95 on the floor helped to give the Red and Black the clean sweep, as Georgia's 49.65 in the fourth rotation well exceeded the 48.875 earned by the Wolverines on the beam, where no Michigan gymnast exceeded a 9.825.
The victory ran the Gym Dogs' record to 11-1-1 and gave Coach Yoculan's squad its eighth score of the season in excess of 197. Based upon the latest N.C.A.A. standings, No. 2 Georgia has tied top-ranked Florida, lost to No. 5 U.C.L.A., and beaten the teams ranked third, fourth, sixth, seventh, 11th, 12th, 16th, 19th, and 22nd.
The Red and Black will compete next in the S.E.C. Championships, which begin in Little Rock, Ark., on March 31, two weeks prior to the start of the N.C.A.A. Regionals in mid-April.