The resurgent Gym Dogs traveled to Gainesville on Friday night to tangle with Florida at the O’Connell Center in a true test of their staying power in the post-Suzanne Yoculan era. In a clash of gymnastics titans, seventh-ranked Georgia fell to the fourth-ranked Orange and Blue.
The Gators got the better of the Gym Dogs in the vault, carding a 49.4 on the strength of Ashanee Dickerson’s 9.95 while the Red and Black had to settle for a 49.25 in that event despite Kat Ding’s 9.925. Florida also edged Georgia on the bars by a 49.2-49.175 margin, even though five visiting gymnasts earned a 9.8 or better.
The third rotation saw a nip-and-tuck battle between the Red and Black in the floor exercise and the Orange and Blue on the balance beam. A fall by Florida’s Randy Stageberg opened the door a crack and Courtney McCool took partial advantage with a 9.9 but could not overcome Dickerson’s 9.95. Although the Gym Dogs won the rotation 49.275-49.2, the Gators continued to cling to an overall 147.8-147.7 advantage.
The competing squads swapped spots for the final round and Ding’s fall from the beam gave the Gators their opportunity on the floor and the home team responded with a 9.875 from Stageberg, a 9.9 from Maranda Smith, and a 9.925 from Dickerson. Georgia’s scores of 9.875 from Grace Taylor, 9.9 from Shayla Worley, and 9.975 from McCool enabled the visitors to forge a 49.45-all tie for the rotation but could not stave off a 197.25-197.15 Gator victory.
While the loss was disheartening, the way the Gym Dogs lost was not. The Red and Black earned a 49.175 or better in each rotation and topped 197 for the meet. Those sorts of scores will win more often than not. Unfortunately, when facing Florida, it wasn’t enough.