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Gym Dogs Defeat UCLA Bruins in Battle of Longtime Gymnastics Powers

In a Sunday afternoon tri-meet at Pauley Pavilion, the sixth-ranked Gym Dogs battled to victory against No. 23 Arizona and eighth-ranked host squad UCLA. Georgia finished the competition with an overall 196.175 mark, surpassing the 195.75 managed by the Californians and the 194.125 posted by the Arizonans.

The Red and Black posted a 49.175 tally on the vault, thanks to a trio of 9.825s capped off by Cassidy McComb’s 9.9, but the visiting Athenians were outdueled in that event by the Bruins (49.325) and the Wildcats (49.3). Arizona’s collapse on the bars caused them to card a 47.575 team score, which dropped the Copper State squad behind the other two competitors. UCLA cobbled together a 49.0 cumulative mark on the bars, but a 9.9 from McComb and a 9.925 from Kat Ding awarded first place in the event to Georgia, with its 49.275 total.

Three scores of 9.325 or below sunk the Bruins on the balance beam, where the home team managed only a 48.2 and the Wildcats amassed a more respectable 48.85. The Gym Dogs’ beam score of 49.2 came on the strength of Noel Couch’s 9.85 and Shayla Worley’s 9.9. Although the Athenians faltered in the floor exercise, McComb’s third 9.9 of the meet paved the way to a 48.525 finish in the event. This effort outpaced the 48.4 posted by Arizona and trailed the 49.225 notched by UCLA.

Georgia fielded two of the meet’s top four gymnasts, including all-around champion Cassidy McComb (39.525). McComb tied for the top score in the floor exercise and had the second-best mark on the uneven parallel bars, on which the Gym Dogs dominated by notching four of the top six individual scores, including each of the top three.

Dating back to 1997, 13 of the last 14 NCAA women’s gymnastics championships have been won either by Georgia or by UCLA, with the Gym Dogs claiming seven titles and the Bruins taking six banners during that span. Neither perennial powerhouse program has performed at its accustomed level this season, and neither attained its usual lofty heights in Los Angeles this afternoon; Jay Clark acknowledged as much when he admitted afterward, "It was not a pretty meet for Georgia or UCLA."

Nevertheless, the Red and Black overcame a deficit of more than half a point after two rotations to post their second-highest score of the season in a road meet and claim victory over the Bruins for the sixth time in the last eight series meetings. In a season short on such achievements, the Gym Dogs must take their successes where they can find them.

Go ‘Dawgs!