The top two intercollegiate women’s gymnastics programs in the history of the sport hooked up with one another in the Classic City on Monday afternoon as Georgia, fresh off of a victory Friday over L.S.U., outlasted Utah in Stegeman Coliseum.
The Red Rocks grabbed an early lead in the opening rotation when high scores by Daria Bijak (9.9) and Kristina Baskett (9.925) earned the visitors a 49.4 score on the parallel bars. The Gym Dogs were solid on the vault, where Courtney Kupets (9.95) and Tiffany Tolnay (9.9) paced a 49.3 effort.
The home team moved out in front in the second rotation on strong bar routines by Kupets (9.975), Grace Taylor (9.925), and Tolnay (9.9). Although Utah strung together five vault scores of 9.8 or better, the Red Rocks’ overall 49.075 tally trailed the Gym Dogs’ 49.45 mark, so the host squad led 98.75-98.475 at the halfway point.
The third stanza opened for Georgia with Paige Burns on the balance beam, where trouble with the landing on one of her leaps dropped her score to 9.15 and put the team in a hole. Hilary Mauro and Taylor came through with marks of 9.825 and 9.9, respectively, but 9.775s from Kupets and Cassidy McComb carded a team score of 49.025. A pair of 9.9s from the Red Rocks’ Annie Diluzio and Nina Kim earned Utah a cumulative 49.3 in the floor exercise to tie the teams after three rotations at 147.775 per side.
The squads switched spots for the fourth frame and Gael Mackie led off the final rotation for the Beehive State gymnasts with a 9.175 on the beam. None of her teammates were able to make up for the low score with a mark higher than 9.85, so the Red Rocks had to settle for an overall 48.95.
Suzanne Yoculan’s charges, on the other hand, saved their best for last. McComb’s and Taylor’s 9.85s were the lowest scores notched by Georgia gymnasts on the floor, where a trio of 9.875s by Mauro, Abby Stack, and Tolnay, along with a 9.9 by Kupets, earned the 49.375 that gave No. 4 Georgia the 197.15-196.725 victory over No. 3 Utah. Kupets won the all-around crown for the third meet in a row by chalking up a 39.6 for the afternoon.
The Gym Dogs are set to host archrival Alabama in Athens on Friday, January 23, but notice has been served that the four-time defending national champions have no intention of giving up the N.C.A.A. championship trophy without a fight.