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Gym Dogs Finish in Fourth-Place Tie at Nationals in What Ought to be Jay Clark's Last Meet at Georgia

We had trained so well since Regionals and had a great day in here yesterday. It was a bad day to have a bad day. We started out a little lackluster on bars, then went to beam and sort of surfboarded our way through it. At that point we still weren’t out of it, but we struggled on floor. It hurts, but I’m proud of the way they persevered this year. They endured a lot throughout the season.

Jay Clark (April 15, 2011)

I know I claimed there would be no recaps before Sunday, but the opening round of the NCAA Gymnastics Championships warranted coverage. The short of it is this: Suzanne Yoculan never failed to make a Super Six after that format was introduced; Jay Clark has never taken his gymnasts to a Super Six.

Last year, Georgia failed to make it out of the regional round. This year, after a second-place finish in a regional meet held in Stegeman Coliseum, the Red and Black advanced to nationals, where the Gym Dogs finished tied for fourth---that is, tied for next to last---with a cumulative 195.45 score.

Georgia carded a 49.25 in the vault, thanks to marks of 9.85 from Cassidy McComb, 9.875 from Noel Couch, and 9.9 from Lindsey Cheek. On the bars, the Bulldogs managed an overall 49.075, due to McComb’s 9.85 and Kat Ding’s 9.9. However, the Red and Black had no scores above a 9.8 on the beam, stranding the Gym Dogs at 48.7 in the event, and McComb’s 9.9 in the floor exercise could not make up for scores of 9.325, 9.425, and 9.55, leaving the Athenians at 48.425 for that rotation.

The Oklahoma Sooners, coached by K.J. Kindler with the assistance of Tom Haley, finished first with a 196.775 score. The Michigan Wolverines, to whom the Gym Dogs lost on March 12, came in second at 196.7, trailed by the third-place UCLA Bruins, who carded a 196.5. With the aid of their assistant head coach, Chris Waller, the Bruins defeated Georgia in Athens on April 2 to avenge a March 6 loss to the Red and Black in Los Angeles. The Arkansas Razorbacks, to whom the Gym Dogs lost on February 4, tied the Georgia Bulldogs with a 195.45 team tally.

Some may say the expectations for the gymnastics program in Athens are unrealistic. I would tell those people to check out the trophy case in Stegeman Coliseum and shut their mouths; expectations are only unrealistic if they don’t reflect reality, and the reality is that Jay Clark took over a program that had won five straight national championships and drove it straight into the ditch.

No, I didn’t expect him to win five straight national championships, but I certainly expected him to win regionals and make Super Six appearances. When Coach Yoculan left, Georgia was, without a doubt, the finest collegiate women’s gymnastics program in the country; today, under Coach Clark’s stewardship, it is no better than tied for third-best in the conference.

Now is the time for Greg McGarity to apply the lesson he learned from Jeremy Foley: "That which must be done eventually must be done immediately." Does anyone believe that Coach Clark has what it takes to get this program back among the nation’s elite? If no one believes any such thing---and I defy anyone to cite me evidence for the proposition that such a belief is justified---then there is no use in delaying the inevitable.

Jay Clark should be fired. He should be fired now. I don’t mean he should be fired when he gets back to Athens; I mean he should be fired before he gets on the plane in Cleveland. While we wish him well, we need him gone. Today.

Go ‘Dawgs!