On Monday afternoon, ninth-ranked Georgia hosted No. 10 Stanford in Stegeman Coliseum for what promised to be a close contest. Instead, the Gym Dogs delivered the most impressive performance of the young Danna Durante era, winning by a convincing 197.0-195.4 margin.
The Red and Black began the meet on the vault in the first rotation. Season-high scores by sophomore Chelsea Davis (9.85) and junior Lindsey Cheek (9.925), coupled with career-best 9.9 marks from freshmen Brandie Jay and Brittany Rogers, propelled Georgia to a 49.4 cumulative score that was the team’s top tally on that apparatus this season. Stanford’s 48.85 total on the bars put the visitors behind the eight ball from the outset.
The Gym Dogs matched their combined 49.4 score on the bars in the second rotation. Davis and Jay both carded 9.9s, while Cheek and Rogers registered 9.875s. Senior Shayla Worley rounded out the team’s stellar performance on the apparatus with a 9.85. Stanford compiled a respectable 49.125 in the vault, but Georgia led by 0.825 at the midpoint after earning a season-best 98.8 overall mark after two rotations.
Career highs by Cheek (9.875) and junior Kaylan Earls (9.9) paved the way to a 48.825 tally on the beam while the Cardinal cobbled together a 48.375 in the floor exercise to trail their hosts, 147.625-146.35, heading into the final rotation. The mark was the best the Gym Dogs had managed through three events this winter.
Georgia established a new season-best total in the floor exercise with an overall 49.375, thanks to career-high scores of 9.9 by Earls and 9.875 by junior Cat Hires. Though Stanford succeeded only in earning a 49.05 on the beam, the Gym Dogs were far from satisfied by their commanding win over a top ten opponent, as Cheek remarked afterward: “It feels great to finally put a meet together. We still were a little shaky on beam. It means we need to go back in the gym and keep improving. We don’t stop here; 197 isn’t where it stops. We have to keep improving, keep getting better.”
That’s the spirit, Lindsey. Georgia won all four events, posted the squad’s best mark of the season, and earned the fifth-highest team total put up in NCAA women’s gymnastics in 2013, but these Gym Dogs know better than to rest on their laurels. Next weekend, the Red and Black will travel to Fort Worth for the Metroplex Challenge, in which they will have the opportunity to avenge their only loss of the season, then they will return home to square off with fifth-ranked arch-rival Alabama on February 2. This team will have the opportunity to prove itself in the coming weeks, and, for the first time since Suzanne Yoculan stood on the sideline in Stegeman Coliseum, the Gym Dogs look like a team that can compete at the highest level.