Coach Danna Durante's 8th ranked Gym Dogs fell on the road last night at #3 Oklahoma, 197.700 to 196.500 in a season opener that Bulldog fans will be eager to put behind them.
The night didn't start particularly well, as Oklahoma opened on the vault with a solid 49.475 and Georgia countered with a 49.250 on bars. During the second rotation the Gym Dogs slipped just a little further behind, well, whatever they call the Oklahoma gymnastics team (I'm going with "Land Thieves on Trapeze" over Vineyarddawg's suggestion of "Bloomer Sooner"). Georgia posted a second straight 49.250 to the Okies' 49.350, leaving them on pace for a respectable 197.000 finish and only 0.325 behind their opponent.
And that's when the wheels started to come loose. The Sooners carded a 49.375 on beam in their third rotation. Georgia countered with a 49.025 on floor which put them far behind the eight ball entering the final rotation, in which they were to attack the beam.
And that's where the wheels came completely off and the engine blew. Coach Durante's ladies combined for a 48.975 on the beam while Oklahoma finished strong with a 49.5 on the floor exercise to defeat their SEC opponents by a 1.200 point margin. In any other sport that would sound like an awfully close score. In the gym, it's a pretty sound defeat.
Clearly it's a bit early for panic, but this one was not a highlight. In lieu of any other response, we're just going to chalk this one up to early season jitters. The 196.500 total was, as one member of the Dawg Sports staff put it, not just a little low but "Jay Clark era low." Of course, in Clark's first meet at the helm against Stanford in 2010 the Gym Dogs carded a 195, and we're nowhere near that point yet.
To paraphrase the Drive-By Truckers, a gymnastics season ain't nothing but a blending of all the ups and downs***. I'd characterize last night as a down, as not ideal, but not as disastrous. Rather, it appears to have been the result of a final rotation which exhibited some lack of focus, and maybe a little fatigue. It's not the end of the world by any means. But a season of 196.500s won't get the Gym Dogs where they want to go.
Speaking of Stanford, it doesn't get a whole lot easier, as the Dawgs take on the perennially powerful Cardinal tomorrow in Palo Alto. I'll be keen to see how they snap back from this one, and whether we see a consistent, full four rotation effort. Until later . . .
***I decided to work the DBTs into a college gymnastics wrap-up because dividing by zero seemed too easy.