Although Saturday was a great day for the Diamond Dogs, it was not for the Gym Dogs, who were at the Sommet Center in Nashville for the 2009 S.E.C. gymnastics championships. Georgia stumbled out of the gate in the first rotation, where Courtney Kupets’s 9.9 and Grace Taylor’s 9.875 were the only scores posted by the Red and Black above a 9.775 on the balance beam. The Bulldogs’ 48.6 for the round put them behind Florida (49.2 in the vault), Louisiana State (49.175 in the floor exercise), and Kentucky (48.65 on the uneven bars) while Alabama, Arkansas, and Auburn all had byes.
In the second rotation, the Crimson Tide tallied a 49.45 in the vault to outpace Auburn’s 49.25 on the bars, Arkansas’s 49.1 in the floor exercise, and Kentucky’s 48.3 on the beam while Georgia, Florida, and L.S.U. waited on the sidelines. The Gym Dogs bounced back in the floor exercise in the meet’s third stanza, thanks to six scores of 9.85 or better, including Hilary Mauro’s 9.9, Taylor’s 9.925, and Kupets’s 9.95. The Red and Black’s 49.5 put them ahead of the Gators (49.375 on the bars), L.S.U. (49.325 in the vault), and Auburn (48.85 on the beam).
Alabama notched the high score of the fourth rotation, carding a 49.35 on the bars that exceeded the Razorbacks’ 49.2 in the vault and the 48.825s earned by the Gators on the beam and by the Wildcats on the floor. The Gym Dogs and their longtime rivals from Tuscaloosa both were in competition for the first time in the fifth rotation, where Georgia got the better of ‘Bama with a 49.325 in the vault that improved upon the Tide’s 49.025 on the beam, as well as Louisiana State’s 49.15 on the bars and Auburn’s 49.125 in the floor exercise.
Both the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide had byes in the sixth rotation, which saw a 49.35 from Florida in the floor exercise, a 49.225 from Kentucky in the vault, a 49.075 from Arkansas on the bars, and a 48.9 from L.S.U. on the beam. Georgia narrowly edged Alabama in the seventh rotation with the 49.5 on the bars that just exceeded the Crimson Tide’s 49.475 in the floor exercise. Auburn added a 49.125 in the vault and Arkansas tallied a 48.275 on the beam.
It was not enough to overcome the rough start by Suzanne Yoculan’s squad, however. Although Courtney Kupets led all competitors with an overall 39.775, the second- through fifth-highest tallies were put up by Alabama gymnasts. Accordingly, the Crimson Tide earned the conference crown with a 197.3. The Gym Dogs had to settle for second place with a 196.925, followed by Florida (196.75), Louisiana State (196.55), Auburn (196.35), Arkansas (195.65), and Kentucky (195).
While this defeat did little to diminish the Gym Dogs’ chances for another national title, it put to a decisive end the Red and Black’s prospects for an undefeated season in Coach Yoculan’s final campaign. Maybe this will be more music to the ears of the ‘Bama faithful, but, since the Crimson Tide have ruined three undefeated seasons for Georgia teams this scholastic year and they’re trying to take our basketball coach, I’m starting to think of Florida and Auburn as second-rate rivals compared to those folks in Tuscaloosa. This foolishness has to stop.