The second-ranked Gym Dogs began their home schedule against No. 5 L.S.U. in Stegeman Coliseum and the Georgia gymnasts demonstrated their determination from the outset of the meet, showing no mercy in riding season-high scores to victory over Louisiana State.
In the first rotation, Katie Heenan and Courtney Kupets carded a 9.9 and a 9.925, respectively, to guide the home team to the 49.15 team tally in the vault that gave the Red and Black an early lead on the visitors. None of the Tigers earned above a 9.825 on the parallel bars, so L.S.U. had to settle for a 48.825.
It was Georgia's turn on the bars during the second rotation and the Bulldog gymnasts continued to perform well, with Heenan (9.95) and Kupets (9.925) once again leading the way. Despite Ashleigh Clare-Kearney's 9.925 effort in the vault, Louisiana State's 49.0 mark was unable to match the Gym Dogs' 49.325.
Kupets posted another solid score (9.95) on the balance beam, but the Red and Black's best routine of the third rotation came from Courtney McCool, who registered a 9.975 to give the home team a 49.5 overall score. The Bayou Bengals, who did not have a gymnast surpass a 9.875 in the floor exercise, could not keep pace, recording a 49.15.
There was no letup from Suzanne Yoculan's squad in the meet's final stanza. Indeed, the Gym Dogs got stronger with each successive floor exercise, improving from Nikki Childs's 9.675 to Hilary Mauro's 9.85 to Abby Stack's 9.875 to Cassidy McComb's 9.925 to Kupets's 9.95 to McCool's 9.975. Georgia's 49.575 score in the fourth rotation gave the Red and Black a cumulative mark of 197.55. L.S.U.'s 48.95 on the beam in the closing quarter left the Tigers well behind their hosts, with a final tally of 195.925.
After last week's road win over top-ranked Florida, I wrote:
If the Red and Black break 197 for the first time this winter against the Bayou Bengals next Saturday, don't be surprised if the Georgia gymnasts go on a tear that leads them all the way to a fourth straight national title.
Much like John "Hannibal" Smith, I love it when a plan comes together. Next up for the Gym Dogs is a Friday night fight with third-ranked archrival Alabama in Tuscaloosa on February 1.