Sunday afternoon capped off a disheartening weekend for fans of Georgia athletics when Southern California completed a sweep of the Diamond Dogs in a three-game series at Foley Field. This disappointment was compounded, however, by the outcome of another competition a continent away between the Gym Dogs and the Trojans' crosstown rivals, which caused regret to descend into the depths of dejection.
Two falls by Georgia gymnasts during the floor exercise, coupled with a season-high score by sixth-ranked host squad U.C.L.A., caused the second-ranked Red and Black to suffer their first setback since the 2005 N.C.A.A. Regionals. In the interim, Suzanne Yoculan's squads had been unbeaten in 27 consecutive meets against 57 straight opponents.
The Gym Dogs began the meet on the bars, where scores of 9.9 by Katie Heenan and 9.95 by Courtney Kupets led to a 49.35 team tally in the first rotation. During that same opening stanza, the host squad attained marks of 9.9 from Jordan Schwikert and 9.925 from Michelle Selesky in the vault, pacing a 49.425 cumulative total for the team.
When the two squads switched positions, the Gym Dogs went to work making up lost ground. Four Georgia gymnasts earned 9.9s in the vault to give the visitors a collective 49.45 in the event, while no U.C.L.A. gymnast earned above a 9.875 on the bars on the way to a 49.25 score. At the halfway point of the meet, the Red and Black led narrowly both in the vault (49.45-49.425) and on the bars (49.35-49.25).
Then came the disastrous third rotation, in which Heenan's 9.9 and Tiffany Tolnay's 9.925 on the floor were not enough to overcome Kupets's 9.45 and Marcia Newby's 9.725 in the event. In the end, the Gym Dogs had to settle for a 48.825 mark as a team while U.C.L.A.'s performance on the balance beam, led by Ashley Jenkins's 9.9, earned the home squad a 49.125 to give the Bruins back the lead.
A valiant effort by the Red and Black in the fourth rotation fell only a bit short. No Georgia gymnast earned below a 9.8 on the beam and the Gym Dogs saved the best for last, as the Courtneys Kupets and McCool posted a 9.9 and a 9.925, respectively, to claim a 49.375 mark for the rotation. Unfortunately, U.C.L.A. finished strong, as well, with Ashley Peckett, Jordan Schwikert, and Anna Li all receiving scores of 9.9 or better to post a cumulative 49.35.
Although Coach Yoculan's team got the better of the host squad on the beam (49.375-49.125) as it had in the vault and on the bars, the Bulldogs' deficit in the floor exercise (48.825-49.35) was too much to overcome and Georgia came up just short, earning a solid 197 score that barely missed matching U.C.L.A.'s 197.15.
The loss drops the Gym Dogs to 10-1-1 with one regular-season meet remaining against Michigan next Friday evening. The Wolverines were 15th in the most recent rankings.