When I’m asked why I’m such a big fan of Suzanne Yoculan, I have several reasons to offer in answer to the question, two of which are these: her teams never turn in poor performances in consecutive outings and her teams never lose to Auburn. So it was again on Saturday afternoon.
After winning less than impressively against N.C. State, the third-ranked Gym Dogs hosted No. 5 Auburn yesterday and began on the vault in the first rotation. Marcia Newby and Tiffany Tolnay each carded a 9.9 to pace a 49.25 team total in the event. The visitors from the Yellowhammer State, meanwhile, eked out an overall 48.825 on the uneven bars to stake Georgia to an early lead.
The two teams traded positions for the second round and the Red and Black posted a trio of 9.85s from Newby, Kathryn Ding, and Courtney Kupets en route to a 49.15 tally. Auburn’s vault mark was a 49.025, giving Coach Yoculan’s charges a 98.4-97.85 advantage.
On the balance beam during the third rotation, Georgia opened with 9.825s from Hilary Mauro and Cassidy McComb and followed that up with a 9.9 from Tolnay, a 9.95 from Grace Taylor, and a 9.975 from Kupets to notch a 49.475 score. The Tigers had no scores in the floor exercise above a 9.875, limiting them to a 49.075 and extending the home team’s lead to 147.875-146.925.
The Gym Dogs moved to the floor exercise with a commanding lead heading into the final stanza and they finished the drill, posting a 49.375 on the strength of a 9.925 from Kupets and three 9.875s from Mauro, Taylor, and Tolnay. Auburn’s 49 on the beam did not compare and the Red and Black cruised to the 197.25-195.925 victory.
Courtney Kupets recorded an overall 39.625 for her sixth straight all-around title of the season as the team put up its best mark of the campaign. Prior to this weekend, no team in the land had registered a team score higher than the 197.25 Georgia just earned.
How happy was Coach Yoculan with her team’s achievement? While she acknowledged that "[i]t’s hard to be too disappointed in our score today," Coach Yoculan said: "I didn’t feel like we attacked and competed with a lot of confidence out there today." Such is the insistence upon excellence that very well may produce a fifth straight national championship.