It was not to be Georgia's night at Pauley Pavillion in Los Angeles, as they battled a lack of experience and a seemingly disdainful set of judges enroute to a sixth-place finish in the Super Six.
Georgia started the evening on floor, and unfortunately took ourselves out of the running for the national championship in the first rotation. No gymnast scored higher than a 9.875 (Noel Couch), and we had to count a 9.70 from Brandie Jay enroute to a 49.050 rotation.
The Gym Dogs next went to vault, where questionable judging left Georgia once again without any 9.9 scorers. Brittany Rogers had a magnificent vault that left many spectators scratching their heads when she was only awarded a 9.875, and Cat Hires had a magnificent vault, too, that somehow only managed a 9.85. The rest of the team didn't perform their best, either, though, and we were left with a rotation score of 49.200. Again, not a terrible rotation score, but this is the Super Six.
After a bye in the 3rd rotation, UGA took to the bars, where seemingly poor judging hamstrung them again. Christa Tanella and Brittany Rogers both had magnificent routines that somehow managed only a 9.85, and the Gym Dogs carded a rotation score of 49.200.
Georgia finished the night on beam, where Shayla Worley was finally rewarded with a well-earned 9.90, but Brittany Rogers' 9.875 had most observers once again looking at the judges with suspicion. The final rotation score of the year for the Gym Dogs was 49.225, and their total Super Six meet score was 196.675.
It was easily not our best effort on the year, but I have no qualms about saying that we had at least 3 tenths taken from us by incredibly questionable judging. I don't normally like to question judges in gymnastics, because so much is subjective, but after watching the entire meet on ESPN3, I simply can't see how vaults like Brittany Rogers' were not as good as some of the Florida Gators' vaults, 4 of which garnered a score of 9.9 or better.
The final standings on the night were:
1) Florida - 197.575
2) Oklahoma - 197.375
3) Alabama - 197.350
4) UCLA - 197.100
5) LSU - 197.050
6) Georgia - 196.675
Florida is your 2013 national champion, collecting their first ever crown and extending SEC hegemony, with 8 out of the last 9 national championships coming back to the best gymnastics conference in the country. Congratulations to the Gators.
It's never exciting to finish last with a seemingly poor score, but I can say without reservation that the ladies competing for Georgia gave their all tonight, and we should be proud of them. The judges screwed them more than once, but there's no question that they also simply didn't have their best night.
The Super Six is the highest level of competition with the best teams in the country, and although there's no question that we were good enough to get there, I think our ladies saw tonight just how much they need to improve to be competing for the 2014 championship. Hopefully they'll take this experience and use it as motivation to work that much harder in the offseason to get even better.
And really, that's what matters most for our squad at this point: experience. Thanks to the Jay Clark era, this was the first Super Six appearance for any of our gymnasts, even our seniors. Literally none of our ladies has ever competed with their team on back-to-back nights like this in college before. This experience will help them grow and lean how to deal with these situations in the future.
Also, let's not forget that in the preseason gymnastics poll (which is the only poll voted on by coaches), Georgia was picked #11 in the country. We were not expected to be this good, and have significantly overachieved.
Returning to the Super Six was always our goal for this year, and we achieved that goal. It's been a successful year. By all accounts, we've got a great incoming freshman class for 2014, and we know our current freshman and returning upperclassmen will be very solid. (In fact, current freshmen/future sophomores Brittany Rogers and Brandie Jay might be the two best gymnasts on the team.) We can feel confident that we could be back in this spot next year, maybe actually competing for the national championship.
It wasn't your best night, ladies, but we're still damn proud of our Gym Dogs!