It was a late night for the Georgia gymnastics team on Saturday, as the squad found itself in Colorado for the North Central Regionals to determine which competitors would advance to the N.C.A.A. tournament.
The Gym Dogs began the night on the uneven parallel bars, where Courtney Kupets's 9.9 and Kelsey Ericksen's 9.925 propelled the Red and Black to a 49.425 mark. This gave Suzanne Yoculan's squad the early lead over Penn State (49 in the vault), Minnesota (48.5 in the floor exercise), and Brigham Young (47.825 on the balance beam).
In the meet's second rotation, Georgia drew the beam. Nikki Childs, Grace Taylor, and Tiffany Tolnay all posted 9.85s, but Courtney McCool's 9.9 and Katie Heenan's 9.925 put the Gym Dogs over the top, giving them a 49.375 in the event. Also during the rotation, host squad Denver received a solid 49.15 score in the floor exercise, Minnesota posted a 48.675 in the vault, and Utah State earned a 48.075 on the bars. The Red and Black held a 98.8-97.175 advantage over the Golden Gophers after two events.
Georgia drew a bye in the third rotation, when Denver tallied a 48.95 in the vault to move into second place behind the Gym Dogs with a 98.1 cumulative mark. The Nittany Lions' 48.825 total on the bars brought Penn State into third with a 97.825 sum. B.Y.U. took a 48.4 in the floor exercise to bring the Cougars to 96.225 overall and Utah State brought up the rear with a combined 95.8 after posting a 47.725 on the beam.
The second half of the meet began with the Bulldogs competing in the floor exercise. Led by Courtney Kupets's 9.9 and Courtney McCool's 9.95, the Red and Black combined for a 49.125 in that event, giving Coach Yoculan's squad a meet-leading 147.925 mark. Penn State received a 48.95 on the beam to give the Nittany Lions a second-place 146.775, while Brigham Young took home a 48.625 in the vault and Minnesota earned a 47.85 on the bars.
Georgia's final event came in the penultimate rotation, as the Gym Dogs spent the fifth rotation competing in the vault. Solid scores from Marcia Newby (9.85), Katie Heenan (9.875), Courtney Kupets (9.9), and Tiffany Tolnay (9.95) paced the 49.35-earning effort that gave the Red and Black a score of 197.275 for the meet. In the meantime, Denver took a 48.95 on the bars, Utah State claimed a 48.25 in the floor exercise, and Minnesota received a 47.875 on the beam to give the Golden Gophers a final mark of 192.9.
Coach Yoculan's team had a sixth-round bye and the lead, so they watched with interest as Penn State received a 49 in the floor exercise, Denver captured a 48.775 on the beam, Utah State claimed a 48.475 in the vault, and Brigham Young earned a 48.45 on the bars. In the end, Georgia's 197.275 was quite sufficient to give the Gym Dogs the win over the host squad (195.825), the Nittany Lions (195.775), the Cougars (193.3), the Golden Gophers (192.9), and the Aggies (192.525).
Despite what has been (by Coach Yoculan's lofty standards) a disappointing season, the Red and Black will compete in Salt Lake City two weekends hence with a chance at bringing home a third straight national championship.