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Saving The Worst For Last - 196.000 And A Distant 5th In The SEC

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The balance beam killed the Gym Dogs at the SEC Championship meet.

Chelsea Davis now only has one more guaranteed opportunity to make her mark as a senior Gym Dog.
Chelsea Davis now only has one more guaranteed opportunity to make her mark as a senior Gym Dog.
UGA Sports Communications/Sean Taylor

At times like this, I start to get a little philosophical. The sun doesn't shine on the same dog's hindquarters every day, but damn, we've barely seen a single ray of light this season.  When we also fail so spectacularly near the end, I like to go back and look at where we started, so get some perspective on the season.

These were the first words I wrote about the Gym Dogs in a meet recap this season:

Well, this season went sideways in a hurry.

Yep... indeed. The season started by turning sideways, and hasn't really recovered.  Most of the gymnasts on our squad got better and better as the season rolled along, but inconsistency was the hallmark of this team.

And while we had a brief glimpse of great performances here and there, most notably last week, inconsistency has doomed us all season long... literally from the very first meet.  You could, ironically, say that it's been the most consistent hallmark of the 2015 Gym Dogs squad.

The SEC Championship meet on Saturday afternoon/evening was our entire season in a microcosm.  Very respectable scores on the bars and floor, and slightly above-average scores on the vault.  But on the beam, we had 3 gymnasts fall, and had to count 2 of those falls.  Half our (expletive deleted) roster fell on the (expletive deleted) beam. The fact that we managed to salvage a 196 flat while still counting 2 falls on beam is a tiny, tiny point of pride, I suppose, but this is the postseason. This is when it counts the most.  And we withered like a South Carolina football team in November.

Sorry, y'all.  I'm just a little ticked off. Here are "just the facts."  You'll see that there were several standout individual performances, especially when you factor in the inherent bias that most judges have in expecting the "lesser performances" in the afternoon session, which leads to self-confirming preconceptions that the teams in the evening session will score higher than those in the afternoon session.

Vault: 49.125 - Broussard: 9.85, Davis: 9.80, Jay: 9.85, Marino: 9.825, Persinger: 9.80, Rogers: 9.75

Uneven bars: 49.375 - Brown: 9.80, Davis: 9.875, Jay: 9.850, Rogers: 9.90, Schick: 9.90, Vaculik: 9.85

Balance Beam: 48.100 - Babalis: 9.125, Box: 9.925, Broussard: 9.80, Reynolds: 9.775, Rogers: 9.40, Vaculik: 9.25

Floor Exercise: 49.350 - Babalis: 9.875, Box: 9.875, Brown: 9.775, Jay: 9.85, Marino: 9.90, Reynolds: 9.85

I'll admit, sadly, that my headline is a bit of hyperbole: the 48.100 is only the second-worst beam score we've put up this season.  That ignoble honor goes to the Denver meet, where 5 of our 6 performers fell and we only managed a 47.400.

The Gym Dogs' final score of 196.000 actually was good enough to win the afternoon session, but was almost a full point behind the lowest score in the evening session (by Auburn, a 196.925). The fact that over the entire afternoon session, across every team, the judges handed out only one score above 9.90 (Mary Beth Box's 9.925 on beam) tells me that there probably was some self-confirming "lower score" bias at play here, but it ultimately didn't matter for us in terms of the championship.

In the meets this year in which we didn't have to count a fall on beam (only 6 out of our 12 meets), we've averaged a beam rotation of 49.22.  If we'd scored a 49.20 this afternoon on beam, our overall score would have been 197.05, and would have been good for 4th overall.  Not a big change in terms of order of finish, but it would have provided a very nice bump to our RQS, giving us a small chance of passing Auburn in the rankings.  Now, though?  Not. (I suppose it is worth noting, however, that this won't actually hurt our RQS.  This score simply won't count in the RQS calculations.)

Oh, and your SEC champion?  Alabama.  Well, at least it ain't Florida, and that's all I have to say about that. (I hate Florida.)

The Gym Dogs now have a 2-week break before the NCAA Regional meets.  There will be 6 teams each in 6 regional meets, and the top 2 finishers in each regional meet will go to the NCAA nationals.  We will probably still have a top-10 RQS when the dust settles, which likely means that we'll be drawn into a region where we're one of the two top-ranked teams.  But we'll see where we stand when the pairings are announced next weekend on Monday.

If you look at the historical trend in regional pairings, the NCAA tries to avoid putting 2 SEC programs at the top 2 seeds in the same regional if they can avoid it, but they also try as closely as possible to do pair the high seeds with the low seeds (e.g. 1 seed in the same region with the 12 seed, 2 with the 11, etc., until you have a regional with the 6 and 7 seeds in it). This means we'll probably end up in the same region with one of Michigan, Utah, or Oklahoma (my guess is Utah)... but we'll just have to wait until the pairings are announced to find out for sure.

I'll post the brackets as soon as we have them next weekend on Monday, so until that time...

Go Dawgs!