University of Georgia
2009 – 2010

the wave
Gym Dog fans here are doing the wave at a home meet.  In section after section in Stegeman Coliseum, arms go up!


Up Next:  NCAA Individual Events Championships
(Saturday, April 24, 2010)

Stanford Cardinal
Alabama Crimson Tide
Utah Utes
Auburn Tigers
Kentucky Wildcats
Arkansas Razorbacks
Florida Gators
L.S.U. Tigers
UCLA Bruins
Michigan Wolverines
NC State Wolfpack
SEC Championships
NCAA Regionals
NCAA Prelim 1
NCAA Prelim 2
NCAA Super Six
NCAA Indiv.

2010 NCAA

April 22-24, 2010

digit digit digit colon digit digit colon digit digit colon digit digit

As this is being written, Friday’s Team Championship has concluded, UCLA taking the top spot, followed by Oklahoma, Alabama, Stanford, Florida, and Utah.  Attention now turns to the Individual Event Finals, which start at 6:00 PM on Saturday, April 24.  Georgia’s lone entry, Courtney McCool, will compete on the beam, where her toughest competion should be Casey Jo Magee of Arkansas, Ashley Priess of Alabama, Brandi Personett of Penn State, and Carly Janiga of Stanford.  But if athletic competitions could be reliably predicted in advance, there would be no point in holding them.  As the old sportscaster saying goes, “On any given night, …”

The Individual All-Around results were decided on Thursday in connection with the two preliminay competitions, the top results being as follows:

Individual All-Around Results
Place Athlete Vault Bars Beam Floor All-Around
01 Vann. Zamirripa 9.925 9.900 9.900 9.900 39.625
02 Anna Li 9.900 9.900 9.875 9.900 39.575
03 Ash. Dickerson 9.900 9.850 9.875 9.950 39.575
04 Morgan Dennis 9.925 9.800 9.900 9.925 39.550
05 Carly Janiga 9.900 9.950 9.850 9.925 39.525
06 E. Hopfner-Hibbs 9.825 9.825 9.900 9.950 39.500
07 Alleyse Ishino 9.900 9.875 9.800 9.850 39.425
08 Kyndal Robarts 9.850 9.800 9.900 9.850 39.400

It’s easy to see that UCLA relies heavily on all-arounders for their success as a team.  Vanessa Zamirripa, Anna Li, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs — three UCLA athletes — each placed in the top six in the Individual All-Around competition.

NCAA Individual Events Championships
(Saturday, April 24, 2010)

Courtney McCool

Courtney McCool, Georgia’s only competitor in the individual events finals, was leading the beam competition with two competitors remaining, meaning that she was guaranteed at least a third place.  However, the second to last competitor, Carly Janiga of Stanford, equalled Courtney’s score, creating a tie for first place.  Then up stepped Susan Jackson of LSU, who is not known as a beam specialist, although she finished third nationally in the all-around during the regular season (with an RQS of 39.565).  Showing the competitiveness that made her the Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Year, she proceeded to post her best beam score of the entire season to take the top spot.  Nonetheless, Courtney McCool finished her collegiate gymnastics career as a First-Team All-American, a successful conclusion to a highly successful four years as a Gym Dog.  Congratulations, Courtney, and thanks for all you have contributed!

The top three finishers on the vault were Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA), Susan Jackson (LSU), and Mandi Rodriguez (Oregon State).  On bars, Carly Janiga (Stanford), Summer Hubbard (LSU), and Hollie Vice (Oklahoma) garnered the top spots.  As just noted, Susan Jackson (LSU), Courtney McCool (Georgia), and Carly Janiga (Stanford) shone the brightest on the beam.  And Brittani McCullough (UCLA), Hollie Vice (Oklahoma), Sarah Shire (Missouri), and Brandi Personette (Penn State) took the top spots on floor.  A summary of eight highest finishers in each event (plus ties) can be found by clicking the link at the top of this page (or in the index above and to the left).

NCAA Super Six Finals
(Friday, April 23, 2010)

At the halfway point, UCLA led with a two-event score of 98.800, followed by Oklahoma (98.725), Alabama (98.475), Stanford (98.425), Florida (98.325), and Utah (97.725). UCLA appeared to be on a tear, although Oklahoma surely was within striking distance. Alabama, Stanford, and Florida would have their work cut out for them; and Utah, which had two falls from the beam, appeared to have little hope of victory — their realistic goal would be to finish respectably with their heads held high.

In the fourth rotation, UCLA extended their lead slightly over Oklahoma, scoring a solid 49.375 on floor, although the Lady Sooners notched a respectable 49.300 on the vault, keeping them within striking distance. Stanford and Florida gained ground on both of the leaders, but the remaining gaps would be difficult to overcome with only one event left in which to do so. Alabama and Utah had byes in the fourth rotation.

Rotation number five would be the final rotation for Oklahoma and Florida; they would have to pull out the stops and then watch as the other four teams finished up in the sixth and final rotation. Florida scored a solid 49.250 on the vault, giving them a final score of 197.000, but would it be enough to put them in the top three? Alabama scored 49.425 on the bars, narrowing the gap between themselves and UCLA; and Utah scored a 49.225 on the floor. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s Natalie Ratcliff fell off the beam, thereby putting pressure on her teammates not only to avoid any more major deductions, but also to produce the kind of high scores that would put pressure on UCLA in the final rotation. Led by a pair of 9.900s by Megan Ferguson and Hollie Vice, Oklahoma ultimately finished with a team score of 49.200 on the beam, putting them at least temporarily in the lead with a 197.250 final team score. But would this be enough?

The drama could hardly have been greater as the sixth and final rotation began. Suffice it to say that there were no quitters! Every team on the platform scored well over 49. But UCLA was on a mission, finishing with a spectacular 49.550 on the floor to seal their victory. All in all, this had been a wonderful evening of college gymnastics competition.

NCAA Super Six Finals
Place Team Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
01 UCLA 49.475 49.325 49.375 49.550 197.725
02 Oklahoma 49.300 49.325 49.200 49.425 197.250
03 Alabama 49.375 49.425 49.325 49.100 197.225
04 Stanford 49.400 49.275 49.100 49.325 197.100
05 Florida 49.250 49.125 49.200 49.425 197.000
06 Utah 49.275 49.300 48.425 49.225 196.225

NCAA Preliminary Sessions
(Thursday, April 22, 2010)

Preliminary Session 1 began at 1:00 PM in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The top three placers (UCLA, Utah, and Oklahoma) now advance to the Super Six Finals, to be held beginning at 6:00 PM on Friday, April 23.

The only Gym Dog competing in a preliminary session was Courtney McCool, who qualified at the Missouri Regional as an individual on both the beam and the floor. In Gainesville, with a session-leading 9.900 on the beam, she qualified for the Individual Event Finals on that event, which will be held beginning at 6:00 PM on Saturday, April 24. On floor, she had a very solid performance except for one minor stumble. What could have been a near-perfect and session-leading 9.975 floor exercise score instead became a 9.875, and she missed qualifying for the Individual Event Finals on floor by the narrowest of margins (0.025). That was a tough break, but Courtney McCool will now regroup and compete on the beam on Saturday.

NCAA Preliminary Session 1
Place Team Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
01 UCLA 49.400 49.125 48.375 49.375 196.875
02 Utah 49.125 49.150 49.250 49.100 196.625
03 Oklahoma 49.000 49.150 49.150 49.250 196.550
04 Nebraska 49.375 49.150 48.525 49.125 196.175
05 Oregon State 48.950 48.975 48.975 49.150 196.050
06 LSU 49.100 49.300 48.625 49.000 196.025

Preliminary Session 2 began at 7:00 PM, also in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The top three placers (Alabama, Florida, and Stanford) in this session, too, now advance to the Super Six Finals.

NCAA Preliminary Session 2
Place Team Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
01 Alabama 49.325 49.350 49.225 48.950 196.850
02 Florida 49.425 48.900 49.175 49.275 196.775
03 Stanford 49.325 48.950 49.100 48.925 196.300
04 Michigan 49.375 48.725 48.450 49.150 195.700
05 Arkansas 49.250 49.125 48.000 49.225 195.600
06 Missouri 49.200 49.025 47.450 48.925 194.600

It will be interesting to see what happens when top teams from the Southeastern Conference — Alabama and Florida — go up against the likes of UCLA and Oklahoma with all the marbles on the line! Again, the Super Six Finals will be held beginning at 6:00 PM on Friday, April 23.

Gym Dogs Fail to Qualify for the NCAA Finals
(Saturday, April 10, 2010)

When two teams tie for one of the top two spots, the NCAA rules mandate a count-back where all six scores on each event, not just the top five scores, are counted in a supplementary team score. Unfortunately, Georgia lost second place to Oregon State on such a count-back. Looking on the brighter side, Courtney McCool should go to the NCAA Finals as an individual competitor on beam and floor. Except for Courtney, the Gym Dogs’ season is over.

Kat Ding and Shayla Worley missed this meet due to injury. Kat Ding is the SEC bars champion, an honor earned just two weeks ago. Shayla Worley was the SEC “Freshman of the Week” on two occasions prior to her injury. If the Gym Dogs had been able to come up with an additional 0.025 on one counting routine somewhere during the meet, both probably would have been back in the lineup at the NCAA Finals. But that was not to be. Best wishes to Missouri and Oregon State!

The combined NCAA Regionals results (all six regionals) are listed below. This ranking will be the basis for seeding the teams for purposes of deciding which teams will be in each of the two preliminary sessions on Thursday, April 22.

Combined NCAA Regionals Results
Rank Team Name Team Score
01 UCLA 197.825
02 Florida 197.675
03 Alabama 197.400
04 Oklahoma 197.250
05 Utah 196.900
06 Stanford 196.775
07 Arkansas 196.675
08 Missouri 196.500
09 LSU 196.400
10 Oregon St 196.275
11 Nebraska 195.975
12 Michigan 195.800

Gym Dogs Place Third in the SEC Team Championship
(Saturday, March 27, 2010)

Team Introductions
The seven SEC teams are introduced, Alabama closest to the camera

Jacksonville, FL.— Georgia finished third at the SEC Gymnastics Championship held Saturday at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Florida claimed the SEC title with a 197.050 followed by Alabama with a 196.875 and Georgia with a 196.825. LSU finished fourth, followed by Auburn, Arkansas, and Kentucky.

Individually, the Gym Dogs’ Courtney McCool won the floor title with a 9.950; Kat Ding won the bars title with a 9.925; and Hilary Mauro tied for first on vault with a 9.900. Grace Taylor tied for second on the beam with a 9.925.

After a bye in the first rotation, Georgia started the meet on floor in the second rotation. Each Gym Dog scored a 9.825 or higher including a 9.950 by Courtney McCool and a pair of 9.850s by Hilary Mauro and Grace Taylor.

After another bye, Georgia moved on to vault and scored a 49.275, tying the second-highest team vault score of the season. Hilary Mauro tied her season-high with a 9.900, and by the end of the fourth rotation, Georgia had the best two-rotation score of the meet with a 98.575. Florida and Alabama each had a 98.250 through their first two events.

The Gym Dogs had another bye in the fifth rotation. In the sixth rotation, the Gym Dogs had some problems, but they managed to score a 49.025 on bars. Florida’s 49.400 on the balance beam put them ahead of Georgia for the first time; with one rotations remaining, the Gators led the Gym Dogs by 0.050. Meanwhile, Alabama posted a 49.375 on floor in the sixth rotation (their final rotation) to finish with an overall score of 196.875. At that point, the SEC Championship was still wide open, as both Florida and Georgia were within striking distance of the Crimson Tide, who had a bye and could only wait and hope for the best.

In the seventh and final rotation, Florida sealed the win with a 49.400 on floor, while Georgia scored a 49.225 on balance beam, putting them behind both Florida and Alabama by the smallest of margins. Grace Taylor led the Gym Dogs with a 9.925, tied for the meet’s second highest mark on that event.

The Gym Dogs learned on Monday, March 29, that they will be the top seed at the Missouri Regional in Columbia, Missouri, to be held on April 10. The 2010 NCAA Regionals will be held at six different sites across the country. The top two teams in each regional advance to the NCAA Championships in Gainesville, Florida on April 22-24.

Gym Dogs Defeat the NC State Wolfpack
(Sunday, March 14, 2010)

Grace Taylor on Floor

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Lauren Sessler
Lauren Sessler

Athens, GA.— The Gym Dogs finished the regular season with a 196.800 to 193.900 win over NC State on Sunday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum. The meet was dedicated to the team’s seniors, Lauren Johnson, Courtney McCool, Marcia Newby, Lauren Sessler, and Grace Taylor, who won their 100th meet at UGA, quite a milestone. Thank you for four terrific years !

The Gym Dogs began the meet with a 49.275 on vault, led by season highs from Lauren Sessler and Hilary Mauro. Lauren Sessler began the meet with a 9.800, which was matched by junior Cassidy McComb. Hilary Mauro then tallied her season-best 9.900 and Kat Ding posted Georgia’s highest vault score of the meet with a 9.925 in the fifth position. Senior Marcia Newby closed out the event with a 9.850. NC State got a pair of 9.825s from Taylor Seaman and Rachel Fincham to finish its turn on uneven bars with a 48.650, giving Georgia the early edge.

Marcia Newby
Marcia Newby

For the second rotation, Georgia went to the uneven bars, where they posted a team score of 49.425 (later reduced to 49.325 by a 0.100 penalty due to an illegal substitution, as Cassidy McComb replaced the injured Gina Nuccio without going through the formal request process). Christa Tanella began with a 9.800, followed by Senior Grace Taylor (9.875), senior Marcia Newby (9.925), Cassidy McComb (9.850), and Kat Ding (9.975). After the Wolfpack concluded vault with a 49.000, punctuated by Brooke Barr’s 9.875, the Gym Dogs led the meet 98.600 to 97.650 through two rotations.

Moving to the beam for the third rotation, Georgia was forced to count a fall, which eliminated their chances to come away with the 197+ meet score toward which they had seemed to be headed. The Gym Dogs were led in the event by Christa Tanella and Hilary Mauro, each of whom scored a 9.850. Senior Grace Taylor added a 9.825 and senior Courtney McCool added a 9.800. Georgia was forced to count a 9.350 as well, due to the pair of falls.

Courtney McCool
Courtney McCool

On floor in the final rotation, Georgia cemented their win with a strong 49.550, while NC State had thee falls off the beam, having to count two of them. For the Gym Dogs, Noel Couch led off with a solid 9.825, followed by Hilary Mauro (9.925), Kat Ding (9.900), Cassidy McComb (9.850), senior Grace Taylor (9.900), and senior Courtney McCool (9.975).

The seniors’ final home meet was understandably emotional, although their scores did not necessarily reveal any ill effects. “Beforehand it was all emotional,” said Courtney McCool, “but when we got out there we knew we had a job to do.” Now the Gym Dogs have 13 days to prepare for the upcoming SEC Conference Championship, which will be on Saturday, March 27, in Jacksonville, Florida. “It is really good that we have a week off,” added Courtney McCool. “Over these past three meets, we have made a lot of improvements in places, but we also realize where it’s going to be tough for us.”

Georgia Loses to Michigan in Michigan’s Crisler Arena
(Friday, March 12, 2010)

On Friday evening, March 12, 2010, the Georgia Gym Dogs competed against the University of Michigan Wolverines in Michigan’s Crisler Arena. Michigan prevailed 196.375 to 195.800. Full individual and team scores can be found by clicking the Michigan link above and to the left.

The Gym Dogs appeared to be suffering a significant letdown after their strong meet against UCLA. They were not mentally or physically sharp. A letdown was not totally unexpected, although a team hopes to avoid them. Georgia hit 22 of 24 routines, but many of their hits were 9.625s and the like, caused by sloppy execution. It is counter-productive to worry excessively about a bad meet, but as the tournament season rapidly approaches, the reality is that a 195.800 would not make it out of an NCAA Regional. “We made some changes in the lineup,” said Head Coach Jay Clark, “but it’s still no reason not to execute. It was sloppy all night long.”

This past week has been Spring Break for students at the University of Georgia, which dictated a different daily routine for the athletes who remained on campus from what they would have when classes are in session. It is noteworthy that the Lady Bulldog basketball team was unexpectedly eliminated from the SEC tournament. The changes in non-athletic activities are likely to affect a team’s focus and hence their performance.

At any rate, the short-term goal should be to have a solid meet against North Carolina State University on Sunday, then to regain a sharp focus on the upcoming tournaments during the approximately two weeks leading up the the SEC Championships in Jacksonville, Florida. While the Gym Dogs undoubtedly are feeling down after this loss, the important thing now is to look forward, not back. Get a good night’s sleep and then start preparing mentally and physically to rebound. And keep in mind that life isn’t about how to slog through the inevitable storms, but how to dance in the rain ! Start having some fun in the gym, dance in the rain, and the pleasure will soon engender results that multiply that pleasure. Refuse to let it get you down. Go Dogs !

Georgia: 197.900, UCLA: 197.875
(Saturday, March 06, 2010)

Cassidy McComb
Cassidy McComb scored 39.450 in the individual all-around for the Gym Dogs, including a 9.925 in the crucial fourth rotation

In what through Saturday may have been the most exciting college gymnastics meet of the 2010 season — it surely had the highest combined score of the season — the Gym Dogs got the victory by 0.025 team points. As Courtney McCool took the floor in the afternoon’s final routine, those with calculators knew that she needed to score a 9.900 for Georgia to get a tie. Anything less and the victory would be UCLA’s. Whether she knew the details is unclear, but she and everyone else knew that the meet was very close and that she needed to hit her routine. And did she ever ! One judge awarded her a 9.900 and the other assessed her routine as a 9.950. Her average (the only number that counts) gave Georgia the win by the narrowest of margins.

Other highlights of the meet are too numerous to discuss in a short summary, but we would be remiss not to acknowledge Grace Taylor’s 10.000 on the beam, followed in the next rotation by Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs’ 10.000 on the beam. Georgia earned eleven scores of 9.900 or higher; UCLA earned twelve such scores. Also, Vanessa Zamarripa’s individual all-around score of 39.675 confirms that her third-place finish in the NCAA Individual All-Around in April 2009 was for real. Below you will find a listing of all the team and individual scores. (For more detail on the rotations, click the link above and to the left.)

University of Georgia
Gymnast Vault Bars Beam Floor All-Arr
Noel Couch 9.850 9.900 9.875
Kathryn Ding 9.975 9.900
Hilary Mauro 9.900 9.325 9.950
Cassidy McComb 9.875 9.800 9.850 9.925 39.450
Courtney McCool 9.325 9.900 9.925
Marcia Newby 9.875 9.875
Gina Nuccio 9.850 9.875 9.875
Christa Tanella 9.900
Grace Taylor 9.850 10.000 9.900
Team Totals 49.475 49.300 49.550 49.575 197.900

Gymnast Vault Bars Beam Floor All-Arr
Monique De La Torre 9.850
Tauny Frattone 9.900 9.850
Aisha Gerber 9.825 9.800 9.850
Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs 9.875 10.000 9.925
Anna Li 9.900 9.925 9.925 9.825 39.575
Brittani McCullough 9.875 9.700 9.925
Mizuki Sato 9.950
Niki Tom 9.825
Lichelle Wong 9.825 9.625
Vanessa Zamarripa 9.950 9.900 9.925 9.900 39.675
Team Totals 49.500 49.300 49.650 49.425 197.875

Georgia Gym Dogs Defeat the L.S.U. Tigers
(Friday, February 26, 2010)

Shayla Worley
Georgia's Shayla Worley competes on bars against LSU on Friday, Feb. 26 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, scoring a 9.850.

Friday night’s meeting between the Gym Dogs and the LSU Tigers resulted in a 196.575 to 196.050 win for Georgia. Courtney McCool and Grace Taylor provided the clutch scoring for the Gym Dogs, which led to fairly good team event scores in spite of some missed routines by others. The two seniors ended the balance beam rotation with a pair of 9.925s after the Gym Dogs had a slip and a fall. Grace Taylor had a 9.850 and Courtney McCool had a 9.950 on floor exercise to erase a major stumble and an out-of-bounds penalty.

“We could not have won without them,” Georgia junior Cassidy McComb said. “Really, they are rocks and we can always depend on them. We shouldn’t have to depend on two gymnasts to come through, of course, because those of us in the rest of the lineup should be able to hit. But we always know that they're there to blow it up every time.”

Georgia’s Christa Tanella opened beam with a 9.800, but Hilary Mauro followed with a slip and scored a 9.550 (about 0.300 off her average beam score). Kat Ding fell on the next pass and scored just a 9.200. Shayla Worley followed with a solid 9.750, but turned her ankle on her dismount, which knocked her out of the floor exercise and set up the late heroics by Grace Taylor and Courtney McCool.

Georgia held a lead of 0.400 going into their final event, floor exercise, which should have been a comfortable cushion. But Georgia made two lineup changes before the event even started, as Georgia Head Coach Jay Clark pulled Gina Nuccio off of floor after she had some difficulties in her warm-up and sent in Cassidy McComb. Christa Tanella was forced into action when Shayla Worley hurt her ankle.

Some of the Gym Dogs’ problems were caused by illness as well as injury. Cassidy McComb was not supposed to do much after fighting all week, and Shayla Worley actually has been battling an Achilles problem all year, although that problem seemed to be lessening until her rough landing on her beam dismount.

Full team and individual scores can be accessed via the link above and on the left. Next week the UCLA Bruins come to town for a Saturday afternoon contest.

Georgia Gym Dogs Fall to the 4th Ranked Florida Gators
(Friday, February 19, 2010)

Ashanée Dickerson
Ashanée Dickerson won
two events and the all-
around in Florida’s win
over the Gym Dogs

Gainsville, FL.— It was a bittersweet night for the Gym Dogs. When the final team scores were tallied, Florida had emerged the victor, 197.250 to 197.150, in front of a crowd of 6,421 at the Stephen C. McConnell arena. It might have been some consolation, however, that the Gym Dogs scored their second highest team total of the 2010 season, and it was an “away” meet for Georgia. Those “away” meets are often crucial in computing a team’s Regional Qualifying Score (RQS), the formula for which has a team’s three highest “away” scores as components. The rationale for that is that “away” scores are the best indications of what a team can do outside the confines of a friendly home crowd and familiar equipment, which are not typical tournament conditions. So Georgia comes away from Gainsville with a defeat, but with a score that is likely to pay dividends down the road.

Georgia now has an RQS of 196.205, which probably will move them up in the national ranking (although that depends on how the teams ahead of them score this weekend). Alabama will remain ahead of them with an RQS of at least 196.400, as will Oklahoma with an RQS of at least 196.425.

Despite recording their second-best score of the season and improving their RQS, however, the Gym Dogs lost for the fourth time on the road. Georgia’s only event victory came on beam, where the Gym Dogs (now 3-4, 2-3 in the SEC) posted an excellent 49.450 to the Gators’ 49.200. Florida (now 5-2, 4-1 in the SEC) bested Georgia on vault (49.400 tp 49.250), bars (49.200 to 49.175), and floor (49.450 to 49.275). Hidden in those event comparisons is that the Gym Dogs won the third rotation and tied in the fourth rotation, a strong finish. Individually, Gym Dog senior Courtney McCool won on beam with a score of 9.975 and Florida freshman Ashanée Dickerson won on vault (9.950) and floor (9.925). On bars, Georgia’s Kat Ding and Florida’s Marissa King tied for the top individual honor, each producing a 9.875.

Florida freshman Ashanée Dickerson won the individual all-around with an outstanding 39.625, another Florida freshman, Marissa King, placing second in 39.425. Georgia did not have an athlete competing on all four events this week.

Georgia will host LSU at 7:30 PM next Friday.

Gym Dogs Defeat 3rd Ranked Arkansas
(Friday, February 12, 2010)

Congratulations to Grace
Hilary Mauro, right front, and Courtney McCool, left, run over to congratulate Grace Taylor after her routine on the bars Friday against Arkansas.

Athens, GA.— While for some it was a “white out meet” (of the snowy kind), tonight also was Georgia’s “pink out meet” in which they sought to raise money to help defeat breast cancer. It is hard to measure progress toward defeating a dreaded disease, but it was easy to ascertain that the Gym Dogs defeated Arkansas in gymnastics. Georgia continued their return from an early season slump with an emphatic win against the third-ranked Lady Backs (as the Arkansas fans like to call their women镉s gymnastics team). Grace Taylor returned to her familiar form and Shayla Worley continued her growth as a collegiate gymnast as the Gym Dogs beat Arkansas 196.725 to 195.875 on Friday at snow-covered Stegeman Coliseum. Due to a surprising 3" of snow, and the inability of cities as far south as Athens to deal with such an accumulation, the crowd was lighter than usual, only about 5,000 (the official attendance figure of 9,317 including season ticket holders who opted not to risk the slippery roads, eratic driver behavior, and related hazardous conditions).

After a so-so vault event to begin the meet, Georgia came alive on bars in the second rotation, beginning with Grace Taylor's lead-off routine in which she scored a 9.800. This score was only Georgia's sixth best and thus did not count toward the team score (only the top five count), but it may well have set the tone for the remainder of the meet. “It felt amazing. I can’t stop smiling and laughing. I’m really on a high right now,” Taylor said. “Kind of looking back, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve taken competing on three events for granted. This year, it’s really been a struggle to get in the lineup.”

Gina Nuccio
Gina Nuccio finishing what would be judged a 9.825 bars routine

Shayla Worley performed all-around for the second straight week and scored 39.375 points. “It’s exciting to compete every time,” Worley said. “It’s exciting every time I put this Georgia leotard on. Our struggles are in the past, obviously because we blew floor up this week and last week. It took us a while to get our juices flowing, but now we’re back up and fighting and loving it every minute.”

Worley started the night with a big step on her vault landing, costing her 0.200 and resulting in a 9.750. Then she reeled off a 9.850 on uneven parallel bars and ended the evening with back-to-back 9.900s on balance beam and floor exercise.

Courtney McCool capped the night with a near-perfect 9.950 on floor exercise as the No. 9-ranked Gym Dogs led the Razorbacks from beginning to end. In addition to Courtney McCool’s 9.950, Grace Taylor and Shayla Worley both had 9.900s, while Noel Couch, Hilary Mauro, and Cassidy McComb each scored 9.800s in an event that has been Georgia’s most inconsistent this season. Georgia outscored Arkansas 49.350 to 48.950 on the final event of the night.

“One of the things we talked about tonight was to finish,” Georgia coach Jay Clark said. “We wanted to finish every pose, finish every routine, and finish every landing. We wanted to finish strong. That’s huge. You want to ride a wave of momentum and that’s a big key in our sport. I don’t think we executed as well tonight in our landings. We were a little sloppy on our landings and gave away five- or six-tenths (of a point), easily. I felt really good about what the scores were but left a little bit out there. Finishing strong was very important because in the early part of the year, that’s where we were having the problems.”

Georgia won three of four events. Kat Ding’s 9.900 helped the Gym Dogs out-point Arkansas 49.275 to 48.650 on bars. Taylor’s 9.900 led Georgia on beam as the Gym Dogs out-scored the Razorbacks 49.100 to 48.975. Arkansas beat Georgia 49.250 to 49.000 on vault as the Razorbacks’ Jaime Pisani and Casey Jo Magee each had a 9.925. Perhaps the biggest improvement for the Gym Dogs was in attitude, as they had a brashness, an audacity, and a confidence that seemed to be lacking early in the season.

Gym Dogs Score Big in Defeating the Kentucky Wildcats
(Friday, February 05, 2010)

Shayla Worley
Shayla Worley scored a 9.925
on beam, a 9.950 on floor, and
39.500 all-around

Athens, GA (02/05).— Georgia began on vault much as they have in previous meets this season, scoring 48.950 to take a slim lead over Kentucky’s 48.925 team score on bars. After that modest start, they got into a high-scoring groove, earning a 49.450 on bars, a 49.400 on beam, and a 49.400 on floor, amassing a 197.200 final team score.

Georgia had faced more than their share of frustrations through much of the early season and had lost three straight road matches coming into Friday. Georgia’s upward progress in its scores took a step backward last week when the Gym Dogs lost to Auburn for the first time ever. Georgia responded to their return home with their most consistent showing of the season, their 197.200 being a season high by 0.700 points. “It’s the first time that we haven’t had to count a fall or comparable major break,” Georgia Head Coach Jay Clark said. “We put a floor rotation together, which we hadn’t been able to do until this meet.”

Kat Ding’s 9.975 on bars was the first undeniable sign that the Gym Dogs were catching fire. Gina Nuccio and Courtney McCool added 9.900s, and Shayla Worley (9.850) and Marcia Newby (9.825) finished out the scoring. On beam, Grace Taylor took top honors with a 9.950, Shayla Worley (9.925) and Hilary Mauro (9.900) also adding impressive scores.

Finishing the meet on floor, Hilary Mauro and Cassidy McComb scored a pair of 9.825s, and Gina Nuccio added a 9.850. The final two competitors for the Gym Dogs, Shayla Worley and Courtney McCool, both rocked the house with height, precision, and E-level skills, each scoring a 9.950

While the Gym Dogs’ break-through meet was the story of the evening, the Kentucky Wildcats also had some notable performances. Whitney Rose’s 9.900 on vault was the highest vault score of the evening. Caitlyn Ciokajlo’s 9.850 on bars and Emily Green’s 9.850 on vault were among several other very solid performances by the Wildcats.

Coming up next for the Gym Dogs is a dual meet against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday, February 12, at 7:30 PM (ET) in Stegeman Coliseum.

Gym Dogs Suffer Close Loss to Auburn
(Friday, January 29, 2010)

Grace Taylor
Noel Couch has been a bright spot in the Gym Dogs’ freshman class, with high scores of 9.850 on vault, 9.825 on beam, and 9.800 on floor

Auburn, AL.— The Gym Dogs were forced to count a fall in the final rotation on beam and Auburn rallied for a 195.225-194.900 win over Georgia on Friday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in front of a home crowd of 8,573 fans. It was Auburn’s first ever victory over Georgia (1-3-0, 0-2-0 SEC), which had won all 64 previous meetings dating back to 1980. “We were not very good tonight,” said Georgia head coach Jay Clark. “Compared to how we are performing every day in the gym, we are underachieving. This needs to hurt a little bit. I don’t think we are doing anything wrong in training, but we need to examine everything that we are doing. We are very disappointed tonight.”

Auburn (1-3-0, 1-2-0 SEC) led 48.950 to 48.875 after the first rotation. Kat Ding led the Gym Dogs on bars with a 9.850, while Gina Nuccio added a 9.775. In the second rotation, Georgia took the lead with another 48.875 on vault. Kat Ding again had the high score for the Gym Dogs with a 9.850, and Hilary Mauro had a 9.800. Kat Ding’s 9.850 on vault and bars were both meet-highs. The Tigers posted a 48.750 on bars, and halfway through the meet Georgia held a slim lead of 97.750 to 97.700.

The Gym Dogs increased their lead to 146.575 to 146.400 with a 48.825 in the third rotation on floor. Courtney McCool scored a 9.875, while Hilary Mauro and Grace Taylor each scored a 9.800. Auburn scored a 48.700 on beam.

The Tigers outscored Georgia 48.825 to 48.325 in the final rotation. Courtney McCool led Georgia with a 9.850 on beam, and Noel Couch posted a 9.825. Noel Couch was forced into action after an injury made it necessary to scratch Cassidy McComb from the beam lineup. The Gym Dogs counted three scores at 9.700 or below in the last rotation. The usually unflappable Grace Taylor suffered two falls, which meant that Georgia had to count a 9.375, a 9.600, and 9.675 in their team score.

Auburn’s Krissy Voss won the all-around with a 38.725 while teammate Kylie Shields had a 38.450. Georgia did not have an all-arounder in this meet.

The Gym Dogs return home in a week for the first time since January 9, when the Kentucky Wildcats visit Stegeman Coliseum on Friday, February 5, at 7:30 p.m.

The Gym Dogs Fall to Utah
(Friday, January 22, 2010)

Courtney McCool
Courtney McCool led the Gym Dogs’ effort with scores of 9.875 on bars, 9.925 on beam, and 9.900 on floor

Salt Lake City, Utah.— Performing before a record crowd of 15,552 at the Huntsman Center, the nationally ranked #6 Utah gymnastics team defeated #10 Georgia 196.550-196.500. The Gym Dogs (1-2) trailed Utah by .25 going into the final rotation and recorded a 49.325 on beam, their highest score in any event this season. But Utah (2-1), which needed a 9.825 from Annie DiLuzio in the final routine of the evening on floor to tie Georgia, got a 9.875 from DiLuzio to take the victory.

Kat Ding posted a 9.900 on bars as the Gym Dogs had their second-highest score on any event this season with a 49.250. In the second rotation, Kat Ding once again came through with the Gym Dogs’ top score. With her 9.875 on vault, Georgia took a 98.400-98.325 lead at the midway point.

In the third rotation, the Gym Dogs were forced to count a 9.525 on floor, allowing the Utes to re-take the lead heading into the final rotation. Courtney McCool led Georgia on floor with a 9.900. Courtney McCool also posted a team-leading 9.925 on beam, edging Grace Taylor’s 9.900 for the highest beam score of the meet.

The Gym Dogs will return to action at 8 p.m. Friday at Auburn.

The Gym Dogs Fall to Alabama
(Friday, January 15, 2010)

Grace Taylor
Senior Grace Taylor scored a meet-high 9.900 on the beam, but Alabama took the victory

Tuscaloosa, AL.— The Gym Dogs had their 13-meet regular season winning streak snapped as the Alabama Crimson Tide claimed a 196.275 to 195.500 victory over the Gym Dogs Friday night at Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum. It was Georgia’s first regular season loss since falling to Michigan in 2008. The Crimson Tide (now 2-0) also snapped a four-meet losing streak to Georgia (now 1-1) in their home arena.

“We have to regroup and we need some people to step up,” said Georgia Head Coach Jay Clark. “We’ll have to fight our way through this and get Grace (Taylor) and Gina (Nuccio) back in the lineup. We felt prepared, and halfway through the meet we were still in it. We had some mistakes on floor for the second week in a row. It’s not time to push the panic button; we just need to mature and be more consistent. We are disappointed and we always want to do well here, but we’re just going through some growing pains.”

Alabama held a 49.250-49.175 edge following the first rotation. Georgia was led on bars by Courtney McCool’s 9.900 on the final routine while Gina Nuccio, Marcia Newby and Kat Ding each posted a 9.825.

The Gym Dogs scored a 48.975 on vault in the second rotation to cut the Tide’s lead to 98.175-98.150. Marcia Newby and Cassidy McComb led the team with 9.850s, and Hilary Mauro added a 9.825.

In the third rotation on floor for Georgia, the Gym Dogs suffered several minor and major deductions, being forced to count a 9.375 in their team score. Alabama took advantage of this to extend their lead 147.200 to 146.575. Courtney McCool posted her second 9.900, the high floor exercise score of the meet, and Noel Couch and Cassidy McComb each had a 9.750.

In the final rotation, Georgia posted a 48.875 on beam. Grace Taylor scored a team-high 9.900 in her only event of the meet, and Courtney McCool added a 9.825. Grace Taylor’s 9.900 on beam was the meet high in that event. Further stretching their lead, Alabama scored a 49.075 on floor.

Cassidy McComb was Georgia’s only all-arounder and scored a 39.075. Alabama’s Ricki Lebegern won the individual all-around with a solid 39.350, and Alabama’s Ashley Priess trailed just slightly with a 39.275.

Georgia continues its road swing at the University of Utah on January 22, then travels to Auburn University on January 29.

Season Opener: Georgia Gym Dogs Defeat Stanford Cardinal
(Saturday, January 09, 2010)

Mariel Box
Gym Dog Mariel Box in the midst
of a 9.750 vault

Georgia squeaked by the Stanford University Cardinal 195.150 to 195.050 this afternoon. While both teams showed some flashes of brilliance, both also had to count major deductions. With the meet hanging in the balance, the Gym Dogs’ Courtney McCool scored a 9.925 on floor in the final routine of the meet, knowing that she needed a 9.850 or higher for the Gym Dogs to win.

Some highlights for Georgia included a 9.850 by Noel Couch and a 9.900 by Marcia Newby on vault; a pair of 9.850s by Gina Nuccio and Kathryn Ding on bars; a 9.900 by Grace Taylor on beam; and (as just mentioned) a 9.925 by Courtney McCool on floor. Noteworthy performances for Stanford included Ashley Morgan’s scores of 9.875, 9.850, and 9.825 on vault, beam, and floor; and Carly Janiga’s scores of 9.825, 9.825, 9.800, and 9.850 on vault, bars, beam, and floor, which resulted in her winning the individual all-around with a total of 39.300.

The Georgia-Stanford meet will be aired on CSS Television on a tape-delayed basis on January 12 at 10 p.m. (Eastern Time). Next up for the Gym Dogs is the SEC rival and third-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. The Gym Dogs will face Alabama on the road in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, next Friday, January 15 at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Looking Ahead to the 2010 Season!

This season, the Gym Dogs will count on four newcomers to bolster their squad as they try to continue their winning ways, which include five straight NCAA Team Championships. Georgia coach Jay Clark expects freshmen Kati Breazeal, Noel Couch, Christa Tanella, and Shayla Worley to contribute heavily to whatever success the Gym Dogs may have in the 2010 season.

For Shayla Worley, competing for the Gym Dogs will be a “comeback” of sorts. She suffered the frustrating disappointment of breaking her leg just as the US Olympic coaches were making their final determinations of who would represent the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It is interesting to watch the videos of Worley’s performances at the US Olympic Trials and to wonder if she would have been chosen to join Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Chellsie Memmel, and others. But there is little point in looking back and wondering, “What if ….” We think she was a likely choice, but whatever the case, Georgia fans offer a warm welcome all four newcomers and hope that they can make the adjustment to gymnastics as a team sport. Their best years may still lie ahead!

The 2010 season begins on Saturday, January 09, with a home meet against the Stanford Cardinal. The full competition schedule is given in a table below.

Gym Dog Freshmen
Gym Dog Freshmen: Christa Tanella, Shayla Worley, Noel Couch, and Kati Breazeal

Gymnastics Roster for 2010
Gymnast Events Class
Box, Mariel AA So.
Breazeal, Kati AA Fr.
Couch, Noel AA Fr.
Ding, Kathryn AA So.
Johnson, Lauren V, BB, FX Sr.
Mauro, Hilary AA Jr.
McComb, Cassidy AA Jr.
McCool, Courtney UB, BB, FX Sr.
Newby, Marcia V, UB Sr.
Nuccio, Gina AA So.
Sessler, Lauren V, UB Sr.
Tanella, Christa AA Fr.
Taylor, Grace UB, BB, FX Sr.
Trani, Amber V, BB, FX So.
Worley, Shayla AA Fr.

Gym Dogs’ Competition Schedule for the 2010 Season
Date Opponent Location Time (EST)
Sat, Jan 09 Stanford Athens, Ga. 4:00 p.m.
Fri, Jan 15 Alabama at Tuscaloosa, AL 8:30 p.m.
Fri, Jan 22 Utah at Salt Lake City, UT 9:00 p.m.
Fri, Jan 29 Auburn at Auburn, AL 8:00 p.m.
Fri, Feb 05 Kentucky Athens, GA 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Feb 12 Arkansas Athens, GA 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Feb 19 Florida at Gainesville, FL 7:00 p.m.
Fri, Feb 26 LSU Athens, GA 7:30 p.m.
Sat, Mar 06 UCLA Athens, GA 4:00 p.m.
Fri, Mar 12 Michigan at Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
Sun, Mar 14 N.C. State Athens, GA 4:00 p.m.
Sat, Mar 27 SEC Championships at Jacksonville, FL 4:00 p.m.
Sat, Apr 10 NCAA Regionals at Columbia, MO 7:00 p.m.
Thu - Sat,
Apr 22-24
NCAA Championships at Gainesville, FL 1:00 p.m.

The Suzanne Yoculan Gymnastics Center

Two years ago, in the fall of 2007, the team moved from practicing in the Ramsey Student Center to the team’s very own state-of-the-art practice facility, the Suzanne Yoculan Gymnastics Center. This new center is part of the larger Coliseum Training Facility, an addition to Stegeman Coliseum where the Gym Dogs’ home meets (as well as the men’s and women’s basketball games) take place. Going from their training center to their home meet venue is now a walk down a hallway rather than a 15-minute bus ride from East Campus!

“This is so overwhelming,” former Georgia gymnastics head coach Yoculan, for whom the new center was named, exclaimed at the dedication ceremony. “I don’t know how to describe it, and I don’t know how to thank everyone who has been a part of getting this done. I have learned that if you strive for perfection, you reach excellence. That’s what we have here today.”

The new addition to Stegeman Coliseum also houses men’s and women’s basketball offices and practice gyms, but the Gymnastics Center is self-contained and largely separate from the other athletics facilities. This is the first time Gym Dogs have had a training area that was all their own, something Yoculan said her team is very thankful for.

“Not that we mind sharing, but it’s so nice to have a home of our own for the first time,” she said. “We truly have something now that Georgia gymnasts past, present, and future can be proud of.”

Suzanne Yoculan Gymnastics Center
Gymnastics Center 01 Gymnastics Center 02 Gymnastics Center 03
Gymnastics Center 04 Gymnastics Center 05 Gymnastics Center 06
Gymnastics Center 07 Gymnastics Center 08 Gymnastics Center 09

National Ranks (04-05-2010)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Alabama 197.250
02 Oklahoma 197.170
03 UCLA 197.060
04 Florida 197.050
05 Georgia 196.895
06 Michigan 196.600
07 Stanford 196.600
08 Oregon St 196.545
09 Arkansas 196.510
10 Utah 196.485
11 L.S.U. 196.415
12 Nebraska 196.355
13 Illinois-Chmp 196.255
14 Penn State 196.225
15 Missouri 196.085
16 Auburn 196.025
17 Iowa St 195.890
18 So. Utah 195.655
19 Boise St 195.630
20 Kentucky 195.600

National Ranks (03-22-2010)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Alabama 197.195
02 Oklahoma 197.100
03 UCLA 196.900
04 Florida 196.850
05 Georgia 196.690
06 Stanford 196.575
07 Oregon St 196.545
08 Arkansas 196.510
09 Michigan 196.425
10 L.S.U. 196.415
11 Utah 196.405
12 Nebraska 196.265
13 Illinois-Chmp 196.255
14 Missouri 196.005
15 Auburn 195.975
16 Iowa St 195.890
17 Penn St 195.750
18 Kentucky 195.600

National Ranks (03-15-2010)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Alabama 197.155
02 Oklahoma 196.935
03 UCLA 196.900
04 Georgia 196.690
05 Florida 196.685
06 Arkansas 196.510
07 Oregon St 196.460
08 Stanford 196.450
09 Utah 196.275
10 Michigan 196.215
11 L.S.U. 196.200
12 Nebraska 196.170
13 Illinois-Chmp 196.035
14 Missouri 195.845
15 Penn St 195.750

National Ranks (03-08-2010)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Alabama 197.155
02 Oklahoma 196.920
03 UCLA 196.900
04 Florida 196.685
05 Georgia 196.615
06 Stanford 196.450
07 Arkansas 196.375
08 Oregon St 196.355
09 Utah 196.220
10 L.S.U. 196.110
11 Nebraska 196.020
12 Michigan 195.950
13 Illinois-Chp 195.915
14 Missouri 195.745
15 Kentucky 195.600

National Ranks (03-01-2010)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Alabama 196.910
02 Oklahoma 196.730
03 UCLA 196.650
04 Florida 196.550
05 Georgia 196.490
06 Oregon St 196.355
07 Stanford 196.270
08 Arkansas 196.165
09 Utah 196.155
10 L.S.U. 195.945
11 Nebraska 195.915
12 Michigan 195.610
13 Illinois-Chmp 195.540
14 Iowa St 195.515
15 Kentucky 195.495

National Ranks (02-15-2010)
Rank Team Name Team Ave
01 Alabama 196.575
02 Oklahoma 196.563
03 Oregon St 196.129
04 Florida 196.117
05 Utah 196.088
06 Arkansas 196.079
07 Georgia 195.996
08 Stanford 195.983
09 UCLA 195.982
10 Nebraska 195.721
11 L.S.U. 195.563
12 Auburn 195.413
13 Penn St 195.379
14 Kentucky 195.338
15 Iowa St 195.271

National Ranks (01-25-2010)
Rank Team Name Team Ave
01 Alabama 196.458
02 Oklahoma 196.400
03 Utah 195.992
04 Florida 195.967
05 Stanford 195.833
06 Oregon St 195.817
07 UCLA 195.744
08 Georgia 195.717
09 Nebraska 195.642
10 Arkansas 195.608
11 Missouri 195.583
12 Kentucky 195.187
13 L.S.U. 195.125
14 Iowa St 194.883
15 Auburn 194.808

Future Gym Dogs

Two gymnasts signed national letters of intent to attend Georgia and compete next season (2011) for the Gym Dogs: Kaylan Earls of Chicago, Illinois, and Catherine (Cat) Hires of Tampa, Florida.

Kaylan Earls trains at Arena Gymnastics under Dan Miller in Joliet, Illinois. At the Junior Olympic Nationals, she won her second straight all-around title and finished first on bars and beam. She was a Level 10 regional champion and a Junior Olympic national champion in 2008.

Cat Hires will arrive in Athens from Tampa, Florida, where she trains at LaFleur’s. She won the bars title at the 2008 Junior Olympic National Championships and finished third on vault. She also won the all-around state championship in 2008.

Floor Exercise Music

Most gymnasts mix together parts of one or more songs in developing their floor-routine music. The athlete seeks a blend that meshes with the elements of her routine, that is compatible with her personality and style, and that matches the energy level of her performance. To be sure, choreographing a routine and selecting music to enhance it are not sufficient for getting high scores — performing the tumbling and dance elements well are essential. But these stylistic aspects nonetheless are crucial ingredients of a first-rate floor routine.

While some gymnasts like to choose and arrange their own floor-routine music, most seek help from their coaches and others. The most celebrated arranger of music for floor routines is Barry Nease, who has arranged for 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson among many others. At the highest levels of gymnastics, developing floor-routine music takes a serious collaborative effort among athletes, coaches, choreographers, and skilled arrangers.