Welcome back, Gym Dog fans! After successfully rebooting their season this past Friday against Auburn, Danna’s Dawgs took to the home mat in Stegeman Coliseum this afternoon for the first time this season. Their opponent was North Carolina State, a program hardly considered a big name or a perennial contender for the Super Six.
No matter the competition, however, we’re always competing against ourselves to be the best we can be when we take the floor, even if our opponent is a class below us in competition. And fortunately, today the Gym Dogs continued to build on their solid start on Friday. There’s still room to improve, and we’ll get to that in a moment. But first, let’s get to the rotation-by-rotation recap:
Rotation 1: Vault - 49.225
Ashlyn Broussard - 9.775
Morgan Reynolds - 9.90
Rachel Dickson - 9.80
Lauren Johnson - 9.775
Gigi Marino - 9.80
Sydney Snead - 9.95
Super Sophomore Sydney Snead continues her campaign to be the unquestioned leader of this team on the mat, as she threw up a vault that was nearly perfect to my eyes, with perhaps the tiniest of hops on her landing. The judges must have seen that infinitesimally tiny hop, too, because that could have been the only thing holding her back from a perfect 10. Still, it was a great vault by Syd (and a career high).
In addition, Morgan Reynolds tossed up a 9.90 of her own, earning a career high score for her efforts. (I don’t see why she didn’t get the full score on the start value of her vault, which was a 9.95, but I wear red-and-black colored glasses when I watch, so there you go.)
The blemish on the rotation was that we had to count a 9.775, as seniors Ashlyn Broussard and Lauren Johnson both carded that number. As a general rule of thumb, you never want to count a score lower than 9.80, and ideally not even lower than 9.85. Combine that with a 9.9+ or two, and that’ll get us where we want to be on most rotations.
So, a pretty good first rotation to start the meet, but we need to keep improving, especially as it regards sticking our landings.
Rotation 2: Uneven Bars - 49.125
Hayley Sanders - 9.775
Morgan Reynolds - 9.05
Lauren Johnson - 9.80
Rachel Dickson - 9.85
Rachel Schick - 9.925
Sydney Snead - 9.775
Rachel Schick put in the best performance she’s ever given on the bars, earning a career-high 9.925. Rachel has really started off this season well, leading like we’d hope a senior would, and she continued it today with a great routine on bars and another monster anchor leg on beam (as you’ll see below).
There was a very nervous moment in this rotation when Morgan Reynolds fell off the high bar as she was preparing to dismount. She somersaulted wildly through the air and landed on her knees and hands, and fortunately appeared to be ok. That was a really scary fall, though, and I shudder to think what could have happened if she hadn’t managed to land on a “safe” part of her body. I don’t think we should read anything into Morgan’s fall, as it was probably just a one-off kind of thing caused by a fluke of losing her grip, but I guess we’ll see the next time she competes on bars.
Aside from Reynolds’ fall and Schick’s standout performance, the rest of the team was pretty underwhelming. Rachel Dickson put in a decent performance in her premiere in Stegeman Coliseum, but in general, we had too many non-vertical handstands and too few stuck landings. Those are the keys in bars, and we have to nail them.
Rotation 3: Balance Beam - 49.225
Sabrina Vega - 9.85
Hayley Sanders - 9.775
Sydney Snead - 9.775
Ashlyn Broussard - 9.90
Vivi Babalis - 9.575
Rachel Schick - 9.925
First, I have to say that junior Hayley Sanders was absolutely robbed on her beam routine. This was Sanders’ first performance of her Gym Dogs career on beam, and she absolutely knocked it out of the park. Her routine didn’t have the most difficult skills, but she nailed the ones she attempted and stuck the landing on her dismount. And for her efforts, one judge gave her a 9.85... and the Soviet judge gave her a 9.70. (I call them “the Soviet judge” when they screw us on a score, because we know the Soviets don’t like Georgia.)
That’s right. One judge thought they’d seen a 9.85 routine, and the other judge saw a 9.70. So, since the two scores are averaged, Hayley’s fantastic debut merited only a 9.775 in the judges’ eyes. By comparison, Sydney Snead also got a 9.775, and she had a major balance check and looked to be nearly falling on her routine. (Sydney’s routine was also more difficult, but still.)
I don’t mean to throw shade at Sydney Snead, who is a talented competitor and one of the clear leaders on this team, but Sanders deserved a better score for such a great performance. And it’s a shame that one judge took it from her.
As for the rest of the team, freshman Sabrina Vega put in a great routine in her Stegeman Coliseum premiere, and seniors Ashlyn Broussard and Rachel Schick game up huge exactly when we needed them, with Ash getting a 9.90 and Rachel getting a 9.925.
Overall, this was another very positive step forward on the beam, Soviet judge or not. What we need hear to stay consistent, and keep nudging those scores northwards as much as we can.
Rotation 4: Floor Exercise - 49.300
Morgan Reynolds - 9.825
Beth Roberts - 9.825
Vivi Bablis - 9.825
Sabrina Vega - 9.925
Sydney Snead - 9.90
Gigi Marino - 9.825
The judges seemed to be stuck in “9.825 mode” today with our ladies. Still, I think all of them were pretty fair scores. I might have nudged Morgan’s routine up to a 9.85 and maybe Gigi Marino’s down to a 9.80, but overall, these scores were fair.
I might have said this before, but Sabrina Vega is going to get a 10 on floor before her Gym Dogs career is done. Maybe even multiple 10’s. She has personality to burn in her performances, and her athletic prowess is clear, also. She’s a special addition to this team. Tack on a 9.90 from Sydney Snead that could have been better with firmly sticking the landing on her tumbling passes, and this team has the capability to put up a big floor score in the future. Just have to keep improving.
Conclusion: Georgia 196.875, NC State 194.800
You might notice a theme in my rotation comments above, and it’s not an accident. The theme is, “This was a good meet, and we’re moving in a positive direction, but we need to keep getting better.”
Danna’s Dawgs put up a 196.800 on Friday and followed that with a 196.875 today. That’s improvement, but by comparison, the new #1 team, Oklahoma, threw up a 198.025 on Sunday. And that was on the back of a 197.750 in their first meet. That’s the competition we want to be facing eye-to-eye, and those are the scores for which we need to be aiming. (And, incidentally, we will be facing Oklahoma eye-to-eye later this season. Twice in the regular season, in fact.)
So I’m not complaining that this team got back on their feet after a disastrous start. These last two meets are exactly what we needed, and they’re a huge step in the right direction. We’ve seen some seniors step it up in a big way, most notably Rachel Schick and Morgan Reynolds, and start leading this team in a way they hadn’t been doing in previous years. What we need is for the entire lineup to tighten up their routines, stick those handstands on bars, and stick landings on every apparatus. I honestly think the components are there for us to be an elite team. We just have to make it happen.
The Gym Dogs’ next meet will be this Friday at Stegeman Coliseum vs. 23rd-ranked Arkansas. It will be a blackout meet, so if you’ll be in the Classic City, wear your black! The meet will begin at 7:00 PM, and will be televised live on the SEC Network.