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Beyond the Hedges: 2/7/2013

It was a busy day yesterday for those of us trying to keep up with the thought processes of high school football players as they made their college choices official. MaconDawg recapped the action with a half-full or half-empty glass, and you can hear Macon, T. Kyle, and Ludakit talk recruiting and more on this week's Dawg Gone Podcast. While it's important to get a handle on the future football roster, we now turn the spotlight to some other deserving UGA athletes.

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The then-No. 3 equestrian team took their show on the road to Columbia Saturday to tilt with the top-ranked team in the nation, South Carolina, and took down the Gamecocks 11-8. Starting off with a 2-2 tie after Reining, UGA took a 5-3 lead after Equitation Over Fences after falling behind 1-0 in the event and then winning four consecutive points. Georgia fell 3-2 in Horsemanship, keeping a narrow 8-6 over-all lead, but edged the 'Cocks 3-2 in Equitation on the Flat to secure the win. Following such a strong showing against stellar competition, UGA rose back to No. 1 in the latest Coaches Poll.

Richt and Co. weren't the only ones accepting the signatures of future Bulldogs yesterday. Steve Holeman, head soccer coach, was pleased to accept commitments from 11 young women on soccer's National Signing Day. The crop of young pups is ranked by one service (yes, there are recruiting rankings in soccer) as the eleventh best class in the country and best in the SEC.

The sixth-ranked men's tennis team was in Columbus, Ohio, Sunday to go up against the No. 4 Buckeyes in a huge out-of-conference match but came up short in a 5-2 loss. The Buckeyes, whom Coach Diaz described as "seasoned", started strong on doubles, taking the 1-0 lead with wins at courts 3 and 1, both by scores of 8-3. Ohio State went on to clinch at 4-0 with singles wins at 3, 5, and 4 over freshman Ben Wagland, freshman Austin Smith, and junior Hernus Pieters, respectively. Nathan Pasha fell at No. 2, but the Dawgs notched points with wins at 1 and 6. Senior KU Singh took down the nation's top-ranked player, Peter Kobelt, 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (10-8), for his eighth victory this year over a ranked opponent. Freshman Nick Wood won at No. 6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 1-0 (10-3). It was a tough loss, but Friend of the Blog and avid UGA tennis fan Bill Mc pointed out that, other than Singh, these young Dawgs have a cumulative total experience of three seasons as a group.

The Thursday before the trip to Columbus, Georgia faced Clemson at home and swept the Tigers 6-0. The Dawgs started strong by sweeping all three doubles match for a 1-0 lead and then finished strong by winning five singles matches in straight sets, including three outstanding performances by freshmen Wood, Wagland, and Smith.

Georgia, who maintained its No. 6 national ranking this week, will be in Atlanta tomorrow to take on the hated Yellow Jackets at 4:00 p.m.

The women's tennis team also played Clemson this past week. No. 6 Georgia travelled to Auburn-with-a-Lake Saturday and defeated the Tigers 5-2. After taking the doubles point with wins at Nos. 1 and 2, UGA followed up with singles wins by sophomore Lauren Herring, junior Kate Fuller, and junior Maho Kowase to clinch the match.

Starting tomorrow, the Bulldogs will join fifteen other top programs in Charlottesville, Virginia, for the ITA National Team Indoors. Georgia, the tournament's four seed, will play 11th-ranked Texas in a match scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Win and advance, and the tournament continues until the finals on 11 February.

Also on Saturday, the men's and women's swimming and diving teams visited Tuscaloosa for a double dual meet with South Carolina and hosts Alabama. Both Georgia teams bounced back from the upsets in Knoxville the previous meet by sweeping the competition. The men defeated South Carolina 209-85 and Alabama 205-93, and the women defeated Alabama 219-79 and South Carolina 203-96. The wins gave Coach Jack Bauerle his 200th and 201st career victories coaching the men, and he's up to 287 wins at the helm of the women's program. No word on whether the Tide's Coach Pursley tried to excuse the loss by claiming his team had a target on its back. Next up is the SEC Championships in College Station, 19-23 February.

And please check out the feature on Coach Bauerle at the Southeastern Conference site. Damn good read about a Damn Good Dawg.

The women's basketball team stepped up in the rankings from No. 13 to No. 9 following their successful trip to Lexington where they defeated Kentucky 75-71. The Wildcats held a lead for most of the day, but the Lady Bulldogs finished strong, outscoring UK 16-4 in the final minutes to take the win. Junior Khaalida Miller tallied a career-high 25 points in the win, which as DiemonDawg pointed out brought an end to the Wildcats' 34-game home winning streak . Georgia is tied for second place in the conference standings at 7-2 heading into the home stretch. In just a few hours, at 7:00 p.m., UGA, 19-3 over all, tips off in Stegeman against 13-9 (2-7 SEC) Auburn and hits the road Sunday for a date in Baton Rouge against 13-8 (4-4) LSU in a game televised on ESPNU, 1:30 p.m. Athens time.

The win was so nice, we're going to report it twice: defending national champion Alabama was handed its first loss Saturday as your University of Georgia gymnastics team defeated the Tide 197.5-196.95. The Gym Dogs are the only squad in the conference with an unblemished SEC record. In case you weren't there and want to watch the action (or if you were there and want to see it twice) and if you live in the broadcast area (check local listings), you can catch the reply on FSN Saturday afternoon at 4:00. The team next visits Lexington tomorrow night at 7 with a delayed TV broadcast 12 February at 9 p.m. on CSS, but you know we'll be bringing you a recap of the action here as soon as practical after the conclusion of the meet.

The men's and women's track and field teams were in Ohio for the Akron Invitational Saturday. Among the results' highlights were a win in the 800 m by sophomore Charles Grethin, a Texas State transfer whose career honors include being named 2010 Male Luxembourgish Athlete of the Year, and sophomore Drew Branch's win in the 400 with a personal best 47.77. A special shout-out goes to Shaunae Miller. The true freshman Bahamian (who ran for her country in the 2012 Olympic Games) broke a 17 year old school record in the 400 meters, completing the race in 52.96 for the fourth-best time in the country and the 17th best time in the world this year. Miller followed up with a 200 m win at 23.99. For her performance, she was named SEC Female Freshman of the Week, an honor bestowed on her teammate Chanice Porter the previous two weeks. This weekend, nine distance runners are headed to Seattle for the Husky classic, while most of the team will be in Blacksburg for something the locals call the VT Elite Meet (which name I report only for its somewhat admirable assonance), but what I am calling the VPI Invitational. These are the last events for Georgia before the SEC Indoor Championships in Razorbackland 22-24 February.

It's softball season, y'all. The pre-season top ten Georgia squad takes to the diamond this weekend for the sixth annual Red and Black showcase. Elon, Ohio State, and Winthrop will join UGA for a three-day tournament. that starts at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow with Georgia's first appearance scheduled for 3:00 p.m. against Elon, followed by a 5:30 p.m. game against the Buckeyes. All-time, Georgia is a combined 26-2 against the visiting programs, woot.

And finally, I'm disappointed to report that the Ice Dawgs, Georgia's club hockey team, fell to Georgia Tech Saturday night 9-2. The SEC playoffs will be 22-24 February in Huntsville, and although UGA's season is complete with a 5-3 conference records, seeding for the tournament won't be determined until after this weekend when Vandy and South Carolina play twice. We'll check back in when all is settled.

I'd like to say this completes your Bulldog awareness for the week, but there are so many of scores of athletes scoring for the University that I can't possibly catch it all. Personally, I'm a more nearly complete fan for having collected and passed on this information, but I welcome your thoughts about any of the above plus more news if you've got it.