Georgia Gym Dogs 2013

End of Year Banquet:  2012 - 2013 Season
End of Year Banquet


Kat Ding
Former Gym Dog Kat Ding performs on the beam. Ultimately, she earned First Team All-America honors on vault, bars, floor, and all-around.
Photo by AJ Reynolds

This webpage is about the 2013 women’s gymnastics season of the University of Georgia. This Gym Dogs site (unofficial) seeks to provide analyses of performances and coverage of dual meets and tournament action over the 2013 season. In November and December 2012 the main content of this page is the 2013 schedule, the 2013 TV schedule, and the 2013 roster. As the 2013 season progresses, however, this page increasingly will have content pertaining to all the competitions up until that point. It is written primarily for those who follow the Gym Dogs as avidly as we do!

Anyone who arrived here by accident and actually wants the official University of Georgia Gym Dog’s site can find it at; also, the official booster club for Georgia Gymnastics program (the Ten-O Club) can be found at Finally, for those who mainly want very timely tidbits of information without much detail — the 140 character limit puts severe constraints on the amount of detail! — the Gym Dog Tweets usually are a good source of that. You may find out where the team had dinner, when their plane landed as they were traveling to an “away” competition, and so forth; however, by the nature of today’s social media, you will not find the analyses that are the objective of this site.

There are, of course, some first-rate collegiate gymnastics sites of broad scope on the Internet — notably, the College Gym Fans site (CGF) — but those deal with all of collegiate gymnastics and more. They cannot devote the time and energy to any one gymnastics program that a site of narrower scope can. This site deals the Georgia Gym Dogs almost exclusively, other teams only insofar as they provide important context for understanding the Gym Dogs. Also, we have summaries of Georgia gymnastics competitions from five previous years, which makes this site practically unique in providing much more historical context for understanding the present.

Recent Past and Current:
Current Season
2011-2012 Season
2010-2011 Season
2009-2010 Season
2008-2009 Season
2007-2008 Season

As for other sites that share this smaller scope, this page is intended to help fill a gap between the official sites and the miscellaneous Internet forums and blogs that are out there. Suffice it to say that this site is a Gym Dogs-focused site that seeks to be objective, grounded in the history and past successes of the program, and guided by relevant data and trustworthy statistical methods. Like any good newspaper or other sports media outlet, we will editorialize upon occasion.

We hope that you will find this site interesting always, a bit provocative from time to time!


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Georgia Gym Dogs Hold Their Annual End of Season Banquet
(Saturday, April 27, 2013)

Annual Ten-0 Club Banquet
Shayla Worley
Gym Dog senior Shayla Worley is shown here approaching the stage to accept this year’s “Suzanne Yoculan No Dream Too Big Award,” which is given each year to the gymnast who
best fulfills her personal academic and athletic dreams. She earned All-America honors, was voted the Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year, and finished the regular season
ranked #2 nationally on the balance beam.

In addition to the award noted above, several others were awarded at the banquet. Lindsey Cheek, Chelsea Davis, Kaylan Earls, Brandie Jay, Brittany Rogers, Christa Tanella, and Shayla Worley all were credible candidates for the “Most Valuable Player” award. Brandie Jay was given the nod, based on having earned First-Team All-America honors and twice being named SEC Freshman of the Week. As just noted, Shayla Worley got the Yoculan Award; and Chelsea Davis received the Kathy McMinn Consistency Award. Senior Christa Tanella, who earned All-America honors in her final season, took home the Sam Sheehan Spirit Award, as well as the Most Improved Gymnast award; senior Noel Couch won the Scholar-Athlete Award; and Mary Beth Box won the Most Inspirational Performance award for being a last-minute replacement on floor exercise against NC State in Georgia’s final dual meet and scoring a 9.900. Good job, Gym Dogs!

Next Up for the Gym Dogs:
NCAA National Championships Competition

Oklahoma Sooners
Arkansas Razorbacks
Auburn Tigers
Stanford Cardinal
Metroplex Challenge
Alabama Crimson Tide
Kentucky Wildcats
Florida Gators
Missouri Tigers
L.S.U. Tigers
Utah Utes
NC State Wolfpack
SEC Championships
NCAA Regionals
NCAA Prelim 1
NCAA Prelim 2
NCAA All-Around
Super Six Finals
NCAA Individs

2013 NCAA Championships

April 19-21, 2013

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Having risen to the occasion at the Corvallis NCAA Regional meet, the Gym Dogs will now complete their 2013 season vying for the NCAA Championship in Pauley Pavilion at UCLA on April 19-21. The NCAA format involves two preliminary sessions of six teams each, Semifinal #1 at 12:00 noon (3:00 p.m. ET) and Semifinal #2 at 6:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. ET).

Session assignments and starting events within sessions have now been made. Georgia will be in Semifinal #1 and the team will have a bye in the first rotation. The teams that made it to Nationals have to bring their A-games to their respective semifinals. The top three teams from each semifinal will advance to the Super Six Team Finals on Saturday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. Pacific Time). The four individual event finals will take place on Sunday, April 21, at 4:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. Pacific Time). The All-Around champion and individual event finalists will have been decided during Friday’s semifinals.

Georgia’s goal at this point, first and foremost, must be to advance as a team to the Super Six Finals. That is what Head Coach Danna Durante stated as the team’s goal at the beginning of the season. Of course, the Gym Dogs would like to win a NCAA Team Championship … but one-step-at-a-time maximizes the chances of having a shot at that ideal result. In the short run, the Gym Dogs must focus, first and foremost, on hitting their routines, which probably would give them a good shot at defeating most if not all of Illinois, Minnesota, L.S.U., Stanford, and Florida. The focus has to be on 24 for 24 — hit the routines. Florida and L.S.U. are tough opponents; but Georgia was ahead of both of them after two rotations. The problems arose when Georgia began missing routines. Avoiding that will be the key to getting into the Finals. The full group of participants, their semifinals, and their starting rotations is described below.

As this is written, we have under two weeks until Nationals begin. Congratulations, Gym Dog athletes and coaches, on your recent performances! The Pre-Season Coaches’ Poll had the Gym Dogs finishing 11th in the nation — getting to Nationals but not advancing to the NCAA Team Finals. We have a feeling that you are peaking at just the right time and are going to exceed that pre-season expectation. So continue to train smart and stay focused. You Gym Dog team members do the necessary preparation and we’ll do our very best to provide you with really good vibes …   Wink

Gym Dogs’ Individual RQS’s

Perhaps the most reliable measure of individual performance as the major end-of-season championships draw near is individual RQS in the events an athlete has regularly competed. Without further ado, let’s look at the relevant data:

2013 Individual RQS’s by Event
(Final Computation: April 01, 2013)
Gymnast Vault Bars Beam Floor
Lindsey Cheek 9.910 9.860 9.890
Noel Couch

Chelsea Davis 9.855 9.945

Kaylan Earls

9.895 9.845
Cat Hires 9.885

Brandie Jay 9.915 9.850
Sarah Persinger 9.815
9.830 9.860
Brittany Rogers 9.900 9.910 9.870 9.615
Christa Tanella
Shayla Worley
9.865 9.920 9.840

It seems somewhat clear what the lineups should be as Georgia heads into the championships. The six best RQS’s ordinarily should indicate the six members of the team to be selected for the lineup on that event. Georgia’s bars lineup is pretty much determined at this point. Their vault lineup probably is as well. The team has had notable success against even the best teams in the country on vault and bars; and it would make sense to go with the lineups that have produced that success. On floor, the five persons with RQS ≥ 9.8 are defensible selections. Brittany Rogers is a very credible sixth choice based on recent performances — over the final month her scores ranged from a low of 9.825 to a high of 9.900. Also, Noel Couch would be a credible choice, even though she has not competed enough to have an RQS.

Beam is the most problematic event for Georgia. While Shayla Worley, Kaylan Earls, Lindsey Cheek, and Brittany Rogers are obvious choices, that leaves two more spots to be filled. Noel Couch, Christa Tanella, and Sarah Persinger all are very credible candidates for those slots.

Aesthetically, Sarah Persinger has a very pretty routine, as well as the highest average beam score of the three; but it is hard to predict how important aesthetics will be when the judging tightens up at the championships. They surely count for something! Other intangibles also are of some importance. Courtney Kupets (winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup in 2009), for instance, was outstanding in part because she brought out the best in her teammates, as well as contributing big scores herself. There was a sort of symbiosis between Courtney kupets and Tiffany Tolnay; and those two seemed to affect others for the better as well. On beam, the coaches will have to assess what they need in their fifth and sixth competitors and then go with their gut-level feelings.

Gym Dogs’ 2013 TV Schedule

Athens, GA (October 22, 2012).— In the 2013 season, eight of Georgia’s gymnastics meets will be televised, all on a delayed basis. Georgia’s home opener against Oklahoma on January 5 is one of four meets scheduled for College Sports in the South (CSS). In addition, home meets against Auburn on January 18 and Utah on March 9, plus an away meet at Kentucky on February 8, will be shown on CSS. CSS is widely available in the thirteen states of the southeast and south central regions.

Two of Georgia’s meets will appear on the Fox Sports Network (FSN), that against Alabama on February 2 and that against Florida on February 16.

Finally, the Gym Dogs’ meet at LSU on March 1 will be televised by ESPNU; and the SEC Championship on March 23 in Little Rock, Arkansas will appear on both ESPNU and ESPN.

Those who wish to watch delayed telecasts of these meets need to check their local TV listings. TV Guide or other sources should give specific dates, times, and TV channels, which of course vary from one viewing area to another. Local affilates of (say) ESPN may depart from the times advertised by the network.

Georgia Gym Dogs Garner Some Notable Awards
(April 1-10, 2013)

Shayla Worley and Brittany Rogers Receive All-SEC Awards
Shayla Worley
Pictured above is Shayla Worley en route to a score of 9.950 on the balance beam. This season, she has scored 9.9 or above against Florida and the SEC teams on the uneven bars; against Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, L.S.U., North Carolina State, the SEC teams, and the Corvallis Regionals teams on the balance beam; and against Stanford, Utah, and the Corvallis Regionals teams on floor exercise. She and Brittany Rogers were named to the All-SEC team following the Conference Championship meet; and the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches named Shayla the “Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year.”
(Photo by Athens Banner-Herald Staff)

In addition to the awards just noted, six University of Georgia gymnasts have been named to the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches’ All-America Team. Senior Shayla Worley (balance beam) and sophomore Chelsea Davis (uneven bars) were named to the First Team; juniors Lindsey Cheek (beam) and Kaylan Earls (beam), along with freshmen Brandie Jay (vault) and Brittany Rogers (bars), were named to the Second Team. For the first time, collegiate gymnastics is basing All-America honors on the regular season. They will also base such honors on performances in the NCAA Preliminary sessions at the National Championships. Congratulations to Shayla, Chelsea, Lindsey, Kaylan, Brandie, and Brittany. Good job!

NCAA Super Six Team Finals

Florida won their first-ever NCAA Championship in women’s gymnastics with a score of 197.575. We congratulate the Gators. Olahoma came from behind in the final rotation to overtake the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Sooners finished second in 197.375; Alabama finished third in 197.350. UCLA came in fourth in 197.100; L.S.U. placed fifth in 197.050; and Georgia placed sixth in 196.675

The Gym Dogs unquestionably had a let-down after making the Super Six for the first time since 2009. Nevertheless, they finished the season ranked 6th in the nation, which is much better than the 11th predicted for them in the Pre-Season Coaches’ Poll last December. Individual Gym Dogs who placed in the top-ten (plus ties) were Brittany Rogers, Chelsea Davis, and Cat Hires on vault; and Shayla Worley and Brittany Rogers on beam. See Super Six Results for a compact summary of the team and individual scores.

While the season is finished for most members of most teams, the Individual Event Championships will be held on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. Los Angeles time). Brandie Jay, Chelsea Davis, and Lindsey Cheek will compete for the Gym Dogs on vault; and Chelsea Davis will compete for Georgia on bars. Lindsey Cheek and Chelsea Davis are now three-time and second-time First Team All-Americans, respectively. Freshman Brandie Jay, of course, is here for the first time; but she now joins the ranks of Georgia’s competitors for individual national championships.

Most of the Gym Dogs will be returning next season to build on this season’s successes; however, special thanks must go to Shayla Worley, Christa Tanella, Noel Couch, and Kati Breazeal for helping to create those successes. Congratulations, Gym Dogs, on a job very well done!

The First Big Test: Preliminary Session 1
(Friday, April 19, 2013)

Georgia Gym Dogs the Evening Before the competition
Team in LA
Pictured is the Gym Dog team and coaches after dinner on Thursday. The first big test was still roughly 18 hours away.

(Photo by UGA Gymnastics Program staff)

Primary mission accomplished! The Gym Dogs placed third in the first semifinal session of the NCAA Team Championship with a score of 197.150 to advance to the Super Six Finals, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, April 20. The team had not advanced to the Super Six Finals since 2009, so this was a primary goal for this season; and now it has been achieved. The trajectory is undeniably upward!

In the late spring of 2012, Head Coach Danna Durante took over the helm; and everyone knew that there would have to be some adjustments if the new season was to be successful. Adjustments are unavoidable when a team finds itself with a new head coach, new assistant coaches, and new ideas about how to make the most of athletes’ potential. The new coach would have to win over a group of gymnasts she had not recruited and somehow get them to buy into a new system. Fortunately, the seniors came on board early and provided that “within the ranks” leadership that a team in this situation badly needs. The coaches worked hard to gain the respect of their team. Slowly but surely, things began to fall into place; and making the Super Six for the first time since 2009 is convincing testimony to that.

Of course, now that the Gym Dogs are in the Super Six Finals, they naturally want to go out into the arena and try their best for a podium position. One mission ends; a new one begins to form! We hope they achieve it; but the team and the coaches deserve a tremendous amount of respect no matter what the outcome. They will give it their best, and we will be waiting for them when they return to Athens. Go Dogs!

Georgia Gym Dogs Qualify for the Nationals
(April 06, 2013)

Georgia Gym Dogs Come on Strong at the NCAA Regionals
Oregon State
Corvallis, Oregon is the home of Oregon State University, thought by most gymnastics pundits to be Georgia’s primary threat in the competition to see who would go the the NCAA National Championships. But the Gym Dogs kept their eye on the prize and came away with a decisive victory. The goal now is to make the Finals at the National Championships …
(Photo by unknown Twitter poster)

Corvallis, OR.— Suffice it to say that the Gym Dogs stepped up to the plate, winning a commanding victory over the rest of the field. Briefly, the team results were: (1) Georgia 197.425; (2) Arkansas 196.950; (3) Arizona State 195.700; (4) Oregon State 195.375; (5) Boise State 195.350; and (6) California 195.125.

Individually, the Gym Dogs also were outstanding. To provide some perspective, there were 42 performances on each apparatus (6 athletes per team × 6 teams + 6 athletes not affiliated with a competing team = 42). Considering that the teams and unaffiliated athletes that go to an NCAA Regional competition are well above average in national rank, being in the top-ten at a Regional is notable. Gym Dogs in the top-ten included Brittany Rogers, Chelsea Davis, Lindsey Cheek, and Brandie Jay on vault; Chelsea Davis, Brittany Rogers, Christa Tanella, Lindsey Cheek, and Brandie Jay on bars; Shayla Worley, Brittany Rogers, Sarah Persinger, Lindsey Cheek, and Kaylan Earls on beam; and Shayla Worley, Sarah Persinger, Brandie Jay, and Kaylan Earls on floor. Brittany Rogers placed second in the individual all-around as well. Shayla Worley merits special mention, as she won the balance beam title outright and tied for first on floor exercise. (For more detail on team and individual results, see Corvallis Regional.)

The team competition, of course, is what matters most; and the Gym Dogs just listed were joined by several other teammates in garnering the outcome that all of them would agree is the real prize. Congratulations, Gym Dogs, on a job very well done!

Georgia Takes Fourth at the Southeastern Conference Championship
(Saturday, March 23, 2013)

North, Little Rock, AR.— At the Southeastern Conference meet yesterday, the Gym Dogs scored their second highest road score of the season, but they were edged off the podium by three other SEC teams, taking fourth place out of the eight teams competing. The full picture was: (01) Florida, 198.000; (02) Alabama, 197.800; (03) L.S.U., 197.700; (04) Georgia, 197.325; (05) Auburn, 196.550; (06) Arkansas, 196.400; (07) Missouri, 195.525; and (08) Kentucky, 194.600.

Georgia’s team score was reduced from 197.625 to 197.325 for what apparently were technical violations. We have not yet seen an official account. That changed the Gym Dogs’ RQS from the 197.320 we first reported to 197.260; it changed their average score for the entire 2013 season from 196.744 to 196.721. Alabama also was penalized for an apparent technical violation, although their deduction was just 0.100 from their team score.

While Georgia always wants to win, this meet did have its up-side. The Gym Dogs raised their RQS from 197.160 (average: 196.671) to 197.260 (average: 196.721), a substantial gain. That means that Georgia almost surely will be a top seed in one of the upcoming NCAA Regional competitions.

Individually, Brittany Rogers won an individual title on bars; and Shayla Worley and Chelsea Davis jointed her on the podium. Brittany Rogers and Shayla Worley tied for the beam title. Other Gym Dogs who finished in the top-10 individually were Lindsey Cheek on vault, Brandie Jay on bars, Lindsey Cheek on beam, Sarah Persinger on floor, and Brandie Jay on floor.

Tomorrow (i.e., on Monday, March 25) the compositions of the six NCAA Regionals will be announced.

Georgia Gym Dogs Defeat the North Carolina State
Wolfpack 197.800 to 196.000
(Sunday, March 17, 2013)

Raleigh, NC.— Sundays may be days of rest for many people, but the Gym Dogs did not rest much on this particular Sunday afternoon. In their final regular season duel meet, they defeated NC State 197.800 to 196.000. Since this was their highest team score of the season, it will be discarded for RQS calculations; but that allows their previously discarded high score to be used in the calculations. With those changes, their RQS goes from 196.985 to 197.160. Whether they move up in national rank depends on what the teams ahead of them do; but they almost certainly will not move down — if L.S.U. and Alabama were to NOT raise their RQS’s, then Georgia would leap-frog them and possibly move up to fourth. But of course that is a big “if” and the most important thing is that the Gym Dogs had a performance they can and should be proud of.

In the first rotation, NC State was on vault; Georgia was on bars. Georgia was consistently solid, notching scores ranging from 9.825 to 9.925 and a team score of 49.350. Lindsey Cheek led off with a solid 9.850 and Chelsea Davis anchored with a 9.925. Shayla Worley and Brittany Rogers contributed a pair of 9.875’s. Meanwhile, over on the vault, Stephanie Ouellette’s 9.925 was leading the Wolfpack to a team score of 49.000.

In the second rotation, Cat Hires led the Gym Dogs to a 49.400 on vault, scoring 9.925. Not far behind were Lindsey Cheek and Brandie Jay, who added a pair of 9.900’s. On bars, Rachel Fincham scored a 9.900 for the Wolfpack; their team score was 49.100.

Moving to floor for the third rotation, Kaylan Earls led off with a solid 9.850, followed by a 9.875 from Christa Tanella. It was a pleasant surprise when Mary Beth Box added a 9.900 in the third spot; and it also was a pleasant surprise when Brandie Jay anchored with a near-perfect 9.975; Georgia’s team score was 49.425. Meanwhile, over on beam, Diahanna Ham scored a 9.800 and Hannah Fallanca scored a 9.825 enroute to a 48.775 team score for the Wolfpack.

Floor has given Georgia some headaches this season, but beam has given them even more. Fortunately, the Gym Dogs seemed to be turning the corner in both events. Would that continue this afternoon? The answer is a definite yes! Sarah Persinger led off with a very nice 9.900 and Noel Couch added another. In the third spot, Lindsey Cheek added a 9.925. Shayla Worley and Kaylan Earls contributed a pair of 9.950’s to give the Gym Dogs a team score of 49.625 … no headaches this afternoon! NC State finished well on floor, scoring 49.125 as a team, led by a 9.850 from Stephanie Ouellette and a strong 9.875 from Diahanna Ham.

In her relatively new role as an all-arounder, Brittany Rogers won that competition with a 39.400, outscoring Stephanie Ouellette (39.300) and Diahanna Ham (39.225).

Next up for Georgia will be the Southeastern Conference Championship, to be held in North Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday, March 23, at 3:00 p.m. (session 1) and 6:00 p.m. (session 2) local time. Georgia will be in session 2 along with Florida, Alabama, and L.S.U.

Georgia Gym Dogs vs. Utah Utes
(Saturday, March 09, 2013)

Gym Dog Seniors on “Senior Night”
Gym Dog seniors stand for the national anthem prior to the first rotation of “Senior Night” at Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday, March 09, 2013. From left to right, the seniors pictured are Kati Breazeal, Christa Tanella, Shayla Worley, and Noel Couch. Click here to see post-meet comments on YouTube from Christa Tanella and Gym Dog sophomore Chelsea Davis.
Photo by Richard Hamm/Staff, Athens Banner-Herald

Athens, GA.— Like Georgia, Utah has 10 NCAA Team Championships to its credit; one can never take a team that accomplished for granted and Georgia clearly did not. Especially since this was “Senior Night,” we anticipated a very exciting and very competitive meet, and that is exactly what we got. When the dust had settled, the Gym Dogs had gotten the edge this time, having defeated Utah 197.650 to 196.975. These two teams almost certainly will meet again, but Georgia can savor this result at least for the next month! Georgia raised its RQS to 196.985 and Utah raised its to 196.940, which means that the Gym Dogs will rank higher than the Utes when the official ranking comes out on Monday, March 11. (Interestingly, Georgia’s average meet score is 196.568, slightly lower than Utah’s average of 196.663, which shows how consistency and high scores can differ in their effects on measures of excellence.)

But now let’s get down to some of the details of this splendid competition. In the first rotation, Chelsea Davis led off for Georgia on vault, scoring a 9.875. Sarah Persinger and Brandie Jay added a pair of 9.850’s; Cat Hires added a 9.900; and Brittany Rogers and Lindsey Cheek contributed a pair of 9.950’s. Over on bars, Utah was led by a pair of 9.900’s from Nansy Damianova and Georgia Dabritz; but Georgia captured the rotation 49.525 to 49.225.

Christa Tanella scored a 9.925 on bars and a 9.875 on floor to help lead the Gym Dogs to a gratifying victory.
Photo by Richard Hamm/Staff
Athens Banner-Herald

Interchanging roles for the second rotation, the Gym Dogs extended their lead by 0.025:  49.375 for Georgia, 49.350 for Utah. Georgia was led by a 9.925 from Christa Tanella and a 9.950 from Chelsea Davis; Utah was led by a 9.900 from Georgia Dabritz and a 9.950 from Tory Wilson.

As Chelsea Davis said in the YouTube video above, the Gym Dogs were in an eerily familiar situation at that point. They had a seemingly comfortable lead over a formidable opponent; but against the Florida Gators earlier this season, they had seen it slip away in the final two rotations. Would it be déjà vu or would the Gym Dogs somehow prevail over their two nemeses, beam and floor? Sarah Persinger led off for Georgia and avoided a fall only through a heroic effort to stay upright following an off-balance landing at the end of a combination. She completed an otherwise very impressive beam routine, scoring a 9.725 (which probably included a 0.2 deduction). In the second position, Kati Breazeal did have a fall, which meant that Georgia could not afford another. At this critical juncture, Lindsey Cheek, Brittany Rogers, Shayla Worley, and Kaylan Earls produced a quadruplet of 9.875’s to give the Gym Dogs a 49.225 team score. Over on floor, Utah was matching Georgia’s team score, led by a 9.875 from Nansy Damianova and a 9.900 from Becky Tutka. But Georgia had retained their 0.325 lead with one rotation to go.

Brittany Rogers
Freshman Brittany Rogers posted a 39.575 all-around score.
Photo by Richard Hamm/Staff
Athens Banner-Herald

On floor in the final rotation, the Gym Dogs were determined to put the meet away. In the leadoff position, Kaylan Earls followed her 9.875 on beam with another one on floor. (That is the kind of déjà vu we like!) Christa Tanella matched that score; and Sarah Persinger, Brittany Rogers, and Brandie Jay produced a triplet of 9.900’s. Shayla Worley contributed a very nice 9.950. As a team, Georgia finished much as they had begun — a 49.525 on floor to match their earlier 49.525 on vault. Meanwhile, over on the beam, Utah was putting up a 49.125 team score, led by Mary Beth Lofgren’s 9.900 and a pair of 9.875’s from Breanna Hughes and Kassandra Lopez.

Georgia’s Brittany Rogers won the all-around competition with a 39.575, followed by Utah’s Georgia Dabritz (39.350) and Tory Wilson (39.225). All in all, this was a great home-floor finish for the 2013 Gym Dogs. Up next for the Gym Dogs is an “away” meet against North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC on Sunday, March 17, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Gym Dogs Drop a Close Meet to L.S.U.
(Friday, March 01, 2013)

Baton Rouge, LA.— A team always wants to win, but sometimes even a loss merits kudos. Much about this evening’s Gym Dog performance deserves praise. Georgia had a solid meet, scoring 49.150 or higher on each apparatus; however, L.S.U. finished on floor in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, their largest home crowd of the year (5,717 spectators), and eked out a narrow victory 197.050 to 196.825.

Going into the last rotation, the Tigers led 147.675 to 147.600. Georgia had visions of making up their 0.075 deficit, but they would be fighting an uphill battle, as L.S.U. would have most of those 5,717 spectators on their side as they competed their best event (floor RQS = 49.400) while Georgia would be the visiting team in an event that has given them plenty of trouble this season (beam RQS = 49.010). Still, uphill battles can sometimes be won; and Georgia is a team of considerable determination and grit.

Georgia gave it a good shot, scoring their second best beam score of the season, a 49.225, led by a 9.875 from Lindsey Cheek, a pair of 9.850’s from Brittany Rogers and Kaylan Earls, and a 9.900 from Shayla Worley.

But let’s back up. In the first rotation, L.S.U. was on vault and Georgia was on bars. The Tigers started with a trio of 9.900’s from Kaleigh Dickson, Britney Taylor, and Jessie Jordan; and they finished with a 9.925 from Rheagan Courville, for a team score of 49.500. The Gym Dogs stayed in the ball game, however, posting a 49.250 team score, led by a pair of 9.900’s from Brittany Rogers and Chelsea Davis.

Switching events for the second rotation, Georgia was consistently in the 9.8’s or higher, led by a 9.900 from Chelsea Davis and a 9.850 from Lindsey Cheek. Cat Hires and Brandie Jay added 9.825’s, and Brittany Rogers added a 9.800 to give the Gym Dogs a team score of 49.200. Meanwhile, over on bars, L.S.U. was extending its lead with a 49.300 team score, led by a pair of 9.925’s from Randii Wyrick and Sarie Morrison.

At this point, the Tigers were ahead by 0.350 and the Gym Dogs needed to make up some ground. In the third rotation, the Gym Dogs did just that. Kaylan Earls led off for Georgia, scoring a solid 9.800, followed by a very nice 9.875 from Christa Tanella. Sarah Persinger then added a 9.850. Shayla Worley added a 9.775 that had 9.850 or 9.900 written all over it except for a glitch in her second tumbling pass that probably cost her 0.100. Brandie Jay anchored with a 9.850 to give the Gym Dogs a team score of 49.150. Over on beam, L.S.U. was struggling with those 0.100 deductions and with a fall that meant they would have to count routines as low as 9.650. Their last two competitors salvaged a team score of 48.875; Rheagan Courville contributed a 9.850 and Jessie Jordan anchored with a 9.875. In spite of their strong finish, though, Georgia recaptured 0.275 of their deficit.

As noted earlier, Georgia finished strong on what has been their nemesis this season: the balance beam. However, their deficit was too much to make up against a strong floor team (ranked #1 in the nation on floor). In total team score, Georgia tied their previous best “away” effort and raised their regional qualifying score (RQS) from 196.525 to 196.725.

Up next for the Gym Dogs will be the Utah Utes in Athens, Georgia next Saturday (March 9th) at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. That will be “Senior Night” for Georgia and thus the final home appearance of Kati Breazeal, Noel Couch, Christa Tanella, and Shayla Worley. Besides highlighting the seniors, it will offer an excellent opportunity for the Gym Dogs to significantly raise their RQS once again. Currently they are counting only two “home” scores in their RQS calculation; thus, they could add a solid home score and have it count. An “away” score of 196.200 could be replaced by whatever “home” score they can manage. Hopefully, the seniors will lead the Gym Dogs to a sizable gain in RQS — that would be a memorable conclusion to four years of valuable contributions to the team. Go Kati, Noel, Christa, and Shayla!

Georgia Defeats Missouri in Columbia
(Friday, February 22, 2013)

Columbia, MO.— This evening the Georgia Gym Dogs defeated the Missouri Tigers 196.825 to 194.550 in Missouri’s Hearnes Center. Georgia beat their best previous “away” score of the 2013 season and in doing so raised their Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) from 196.395 to 196.595. As the NCAA ranking system changes this coming week from relying on average scores to using RQS, those sometimes elusive “away” scores become increasingly important, because a minimum of three of them must be included in the calculation of RQS.

In the first rotation, Missouri on vault made a determined effort and received a 48.875, spearheaded by Tori Howard (9.877) and Rachael Updike (9.950). Georgia, however, on bars, also began with a determined effort and received a 49.400, led by Lindsey Cheek (9.875), Brandie Jay (9.850), Brittany Rogers (9.925), and Chelsea Davis (9.950).

Switching events for the second rotation, Missouri was very consistent in getting scores of about 9.750, led by Rachael Updike’s 9.775. The Gym Dogs, on vault, extended their lead with a team score of 49.150 to Missouri’s 48.725. Georgia’s most outstanding performance was given by Brandie Jay, who notched a 9.900, the highest vault score of the evening.

In the third rotation, Georgia was on floor and Missouri was on beam. Missouri’s relatively good start was sidetracked a bit, as they could manage only a 48.150. They had two falls and had to count one of them. Again they were led by Rachel Updike and Tori Howard, who produced a pair of 9.775’s. Meanwhile, Georgia was posting a 49.125 on floor, led by Christa Tanella (9.850) and Noel Couch (9.925).

Once again switching events for the fourth and final rotation, the Gym Dogs had their nemeses of the last two meets, the balance beam, to contend with. This time, however, they produced a 49.150 team score, led by Noel Couch (9.850) and Shayla Worley (9.950). Over on the floor, Missouri was bouncing back from their low beam score to notch a 48.800, led by Sandra Ostad’s 9.850.

This was a good victory for Georgia. Up next will be some more tigers, this time the L.S.U. Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Friday, March 1.

Georgia Loses a Tough One to Florida
(Saturday, February 16, 2013)

Gym Dogs Lindsey Cheek, Chelsea Davis, Brandie Jay, Brittany
Rogers, and Coach Danna Durante talk about Saturday’s
meet against Florida
This was not a bad meet by any means. Vault and bars were superb and floor was fairly good.
But when gymnasts who can score in the 9.9’s or higher receive major deductions, the
final score will of course reflect those penalties. The team has to figure out what
caused those mistakes and then make corrective adjustments. There is
excellent reason to believe that this will happen.
(Note.— Video from YouTube, uploaded by the Athens Banner Herald)

Athens, GA.— The Georgia Gym Dogs began this meet like they were on a mission, scoring a 49.550 on vault and following that with a 49.450 on bars. Although the Florida Gators also started strong, Georgia led 99.000 to 98.850 after two rotations; and they seemed to be headed for their best team score of the 2013 season (2 × 99.000 = 198.000). When all the dust had settled, however, the Gators had prevailed 197.300 to 196.175. The Gym Dogs had a decent 49.050 on floor; and their score on beam included a pair of 9.900’s from Lindsey Cheek and Brittany Rogers. But three of their other four competitors suffered falls, two of which had to count in their team score, which ended up a 48.125. Meanwhile, Florida was scoring a 49.150 on floor and a strong 49.300 on beam.

Shayla Worley
Shayla Worley scored 9.900 on bars, 9.350 on beam, and 9.850 on floor. Her beam score was penalized 0.500 for a fall that occurred about one second after this photo was taken.
Photo by AJ Reynolds/Staff
Athens Banner-Herald

In the first rotation, Chelsea Davis led off for the Gym Dogs with a 9.875. Lindsey Cheek added a 9.900; Noel Couch posted a 9.925; and Brandie Jay contributed a near-perfect 9.975. Over on Bars, Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto had a 9.875 for Florida; Mackenzie Caquatto had a 9.925; and Brigit Sloan added a 9.950. Although Georgia won the rotation, Florida kept within striking distance.

Switching events for the second rotation, Christa Tanella posted a 9.875 for Georgia. Shayla Worley added a 9.900; Brittany Rogers added a 9.925; and Chelsea Davis anchored with a 9.950. Meanwhile, on vault, Bridget Sloan scored a 9.925 for Florida; Marissa King added a 9.900; Ashanée Dickerson scored a 9.875; and Kytra Hunter scored a 9.950. Florida made up 0.025 of their deficit, but Georgia still had the lead.

The third rotation is where the meet unraveled for Georgia. As noted earlier, they had three falls from the beam and scored only 48.125 as a team, despite the 9.900’s from Lindsey Cheek and Brittany Rogers. On floor, Florida received a 9.850 from Bridget Sloan and a 9.875 from Ashanée Dickerson. Their team score of 49.150 not only made up their deficit, but also put Georgia nearly a full point behind heading into the final rotation.

In that final rotation, Georgia received a 9.875 from Christa Tanella, a 9.850 from Shayla Worley, and a 9.900 from Noel Coach. Florida received a trio of 9.875’s from Bridget Sloan, Kytra Hunter, and Mackenzie Caquatto, plus a 9.850 from Ashanée Dickerson, putting further space between themselves and the Gym Dogs. Georgia has scored a 49.425 on the balance beam this season; if they could have reprised that performance, then they would have won the meet.

But they have to look forward now. Mistakes happen and all an athlete can do is work through them and try to keep them from happening again. Next up for Georgia will be the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, Missouri next Friday night at 7:30 Eastern Time.

Gym Dogs vs. Kentucky Wildcats
(Friday, February 08, 2013)

Lexington, KY.— As things worked out, Kaylan Earls in the anchor position for the Gym Dogs on beam needed a 9.875 for Georgia to avoid dropping the meet to the Kentucky Wildcats. If the two anchors, Kaylan Earls for Georgia and Kayla Hartley for Kentucky, each had posted non-counting scores, then Kentucky would have won the meet 195.600 to 195.050. It seemed very likely that both athletes would achieve counting scores; but Kaylan Earls had to do much more than that. If she had posted a 9.800, then she would have had the team’s highest beam score; but the team still would have lost. Happily, she notched a 9.875 to secure a tie with the Wildcats. Kaylan has a way of coming through when she is needed most; and thank goodness that quality prevailed once again this evening!

The Gym Dogs have now completed seven meets including three “away” meets; thus, they now have a regional qualifying score (RQS). Currently, theirs is 196.370, which is quite good for this early in the season. But in terms of the current criterion they have dropped from #6 to #9, which suggests that they have to be concerned about the consequences of an off-day.

In the first rotation this evening, Georgia got off to a strong start on bars, led by a pair of 9.900’s from Chelsea Davis and Brittany Rogers, and a pair of 9.850’s from Shayla Worley and Brandie Jay. Kentucky on vault received a triple of 9.825’s from Audrey Harrison, Jill Chappel, and Shelby Hilton; but Georgia led after one rotation 49.300 to 48.925.

Switching events for the second rotation, Georgia extended its lead by another 0.250, led by a 9.900 from Lindsey Cheek and a pair of 9.925’s from Brandie Jay and Brittany Rogers. Kentucky cracked the 49-threshold with a 49.025, led by a nice 9.875 from Alexis Gross.

After two rotations, the Gym Dogs led the Wildcats 98.575 to 97.950 and seemed headed for their highest “away” score of the season. In the second half of the meet, however, the Wildcats would score 97.875 — a slight drop in output — while the Gym Dogs were struggling to a 97.250, a 1.325 drop. The Gym Dogs salvaged what could have been a disaster on floor in the third rotation when Cat Hires scored a 9.800, Brandie Jay added a 9.825, and Christa Tanella put up a classy 9.875. But their other counting scores were 9.750 or below. Kentucky also was losing what might have been their highest team score of the season, with Sara Shipley producing their only solid score on the beam, a 9.800.

In the final rotation, as noted earlier, Kaylan Earls came through with a 9.875 to save a tie for Georgia; but that was their only score above 9.750. They had to count a fall. Meanwhile, Kentucky was bouncing back with 49.125 team score on floor, which did give them a total team score larger than their previous high of 195.525. In the all-around competition, Kentucky’s Audrey Harrison took top honors with a 39.300.


At this point, the Gym Dogs must put the Kentucky meet behind them and take a positive attitude as they enter into the second half of the 2013 season. They will return home to face the currently top-ranked Florida Gators on Saturday, February 16 at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). The Gators are 6-0 on the season after defeating Alabama 198.100 to 196.850 in Gainsville this evening. This competition will be the Gym Dogs’ annual “Pink Out” meet to benefit the Athens Regional Medical Center’s Breast Health program. The Center’s breast health unit fosters awareness, provides education, and gives support to women (and some men) from the time of a breast cancer diagnosis through the subsequent years of survival. This is a program well worth supporting. Fans who wish to do so may purchase a Pink Out t-shirt for $10 at the Stegeman Coliseum Shop.

Gym Dogs Post Their Best Score of the Season in Defeating Alabama
(Saturday, February 02, 2013)

Comments from Kaylan Earls, Brandie Jay, Christa Tanella,
Shayla Worley, and Coach Durante
This week’s results are potentially a turning point for the Gym Dogs. There will be large
challenges ahead, but this nonetheless was an important step forward.
(Note.— Video from YouTube, uploaded by the Athens Banner Herald)

Chelsea Davis
Chelsea Davis enroute to a 9.925
on bars.
Photo by AJ Reynolds/Staff
Athens Banner-Herald

Athens, GA.— When a team is competing against the two-time defending NCAA Champions, a positive outcome cannot be assured, to state it gently. But Head Coach Danna Durante emphasizes weeding out past mistakes and getting better, win, lose, or draw. Incremental improvement week after week is the primary goal, and if that results in wins, then that is terrific. Well, the Gym Dogs had a terrific meet!

When the dust had settled, they had defeated the two-time defending NCAA Champions 197.500 to 196.950, gaining their first victory over Alabama since a 197.175 to 196.275 victory in 2009. After a four-year drought, they had defeated their long-time rival for the first time in seven tries during that four-year period. No one on the current Gym Dogs’ roster had ever defeated Alabama! But the Gym Dogs cannot rest on their laurels. They must continue the “Durante plan” of looking at the videos, identifying weaknesses, and weeding them out. Rest assured that the Crimson Tide will be a force to be reckoned with in the Southeastern Conference Championship and beyond.

“It’s not so much that we beat Alabama,” Christa Tanella said in a post-meet interview, “It’s that we beat [our past mistakes] and put a meet together. … . It’s not that we beat Alabama. Alabama wasn’t even in our mental [picture]. It was to put a meet together. When we do that, [this is] what the result is.”

In the first rotation, Georgia was on vault and Alabama was on bars. Chelsea Davis led off for Georgia with a 9.850, while Alabama’s lead-off competitor had problems and scored a 9.275. Sarah Persinger then scored a 9.825 for Georgia, which matched Becca Allexin’s 9.825 for Alabama. In the third spot, Lindsey Check scored a 9.925 for Georgia, while the usually steady Kim Jacob could manage only a 9.625 for Alabama. Brittany Rogers scored a 9.900; Cat Hires added a 9.850; and Brandie Jay anchored with a near-perfect 9.950. Alabama recovered somewhat; but Georgia had a commanding lead of 49.475 to 48.950 after one rotation.

Sarah Persinger
Sarah Persinger enroute to a 9.850 on beam. She has been doing a consistently superb
job for the Gym Dogs.
Photo by AJ Reynolds/Staff
Athens Banner-Herald

Switching events for the second rotation, Alabama made up 0.100 of their deficit; but Georgia stayed well ahead with a 49.275, led by a 9.925 from Chelsea Davis and a 9.900 from Brittany Jay. Lindsey Cheek, Christa Tanella, Brandie Jay, and Shayla Worley all contributed scores of 9.800 or above, keeping the Gym Dogs with much of their lead, even though Alabama received a triple of 9.900’s from Kaitlyn Clark, Marissa Gutierrez, and Diandra Milliner.

In the third rotation, Georgia was on beam and Alabama was on floor. Both teams had outstanding performances, Georgia with a 49.425 and Alabama with a 49.475. Again, Alabama chipped away at Georgia’s lead, but the Gym Dogs stayed ahead, led by a triple of 9.875’s from Noel Couch, Brittany Rogers, and Shayla Worley, plus a brilliant 9.950 from Kaylan Earls. Alabama received 9.950’s from Kim Jacob and Diandra Milliner, plus a 9.900 from Marissa Gutierrez. Alabama had now won two of the three rotations; but Georgia had hung tough, refusing to give up their overall lead.

Christa Tanella
Christa Tanella on her way to a
9.875 on floor.
Photo by AJ Reynolds/Staff
Athens Banner-Herald

In the fourth and final rotation, Georgia evened the rotation competition at two-and-two and more important they sealed the deal, led by a triple of 9.875’s from Kaylan Earls, Christa Tanella, and Noel Couch, plus a 9.900 from Brandie Jay. Shayla Worley had a very pretty routine, but she hopped out of bounds on (we believe) her second tumbling pass, probably keeping the Gym Dogs from having an even more dominant rotation score. While there is still room for further improvements, the Gym Dogs nonetheless racked up a 49.325. Meanwhile, Alabama was scoring a 49.150, led by a 9.875 from Ashley Priess and a 9.850 from Kim Jacob.

Alabama made mistakes that probably will be corrected by tournament time; but the fact remains that the Gym Dogs came away with a 197.500 to 196.950 victory! Psychologically, that is a big step forward. For the fans, an additional high point was that many Gym Dog alumni returned for this meet and were publicly recognized, including longtime assistant coach Doug McAvinn, who received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Next up for Georgia is a meet against Kentucky in Lexington, KY at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Stay tuned!

Gym Dogs Fourth at the Metroplex Challenge
(Saturday, January 26, 2013)

Cat Hires and Sarah Persinger on the Metroplex Challenge
This turned out to be a good meet for Georgia, even though their finishing position was not
what they would have preferred.
(Note.— Video from YouTube, uploaded by the Athens Banner Herald)

Ft. Worth, TX.— Georgia had a mixed outcome at the 2013 edition of the Metroplex Challenge on Saturday night. On the positive side, they scored 196.775 as a team, their highest “away” score of the season. On the less positive side, they placed fourth out of the five teams competing. Oklahoma won the meet with a 197.275 total; L.S.U. placed second with a 197.100; Oregon State was third with a 196.825; Georgia was fourth; and Washington was fifth with a 194.875.

The Gym Dogs started on beam, scoring 49.075. Georgia was led by three 9.825’s from Shayla Worley, Kaylan Earls, and Brittany Rogers. L.S.U. took the lead in the first rotation with a 49.450 on bars, while Oklahoma scored a 49.225 on vault.

The Gym Dogs scored another 49.075 in the second rotation, where they were on floor, led by Christa Tanella with a 9.900, Brandie Jay with a 9.825, and Shayla Worley with a 9.875.

Georgia posted a 49.200 on vault in the third rotation. Sarah Persinger and Lindsey Cheek scored 9.800’s; Brittany Rogers added a 9.900; Cat Hires scored 9.825; and Brandie Jay anchored with a 9.875. With five teams and four events, the structure of a meet entails each team having a bye on one rotation; the Gym Dogs’ bye came on the fourth rotation.

In the fifth and final rotation of the evening, Georgia was back in action on bars, where they scored 49.425, their highest score in the meet. Lindsey Cheek opened with a 9.875 and Chelsea Davis closed with a 9.950. In between, Christa Tanella and Shayla Worley added a pair of 9.850’s, and Brittany Rogers contributed a 9.900.

Next up for Georgia will be a dual meet at home against the Alabama Crimson Tide, which is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 2nd. Besides the competition itself, this will be Alumni Day, with many former Gym Dogs attending and being recognized.

Gym Dogs Defeat the Stanford Cardinal in Stegeman Coliseum
(Monday, January 21, 2013)

Georgia Gym Dogs vs. Stanford Cardinal: Post-Meet Interviews
This was another inspirational meet. The coaching is exceptional by any reasonable standard;
the seniors are providing splendid leadership that brings out everyone’s best; and all the
athletes are making incremental improvements week-by-week. That is the kind of
ambiance that makes for very good feelings about a team.
(Note.— Video from YouTube)

Shayla Worley
Shayla Worley scored 9.850 on bars, 9.875 on beam, and 9.900 on floor.
Photo by AJ Reynolds/Staff
Athens Banner Herald

Athens, GA.— Georgia defeated Stanford 197.000 to 195.400 this afternoon in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. The Gym Dogs powered out of the blocks quickly, building lead of 49.400 to 48.850 in the very first rotation (Georgia being on vault). Chelsea Davis led off with a 9.850 and there would be no letting up. When the rotation was finished, Lindsey Cheek had earned a 9.925, and Brittany Rogers and Brandie Jay had contributed a pair of 9.900’s. Over on bars, Stanford was getting mixed results. A fall in their second lineup spot meant that they would have to count a 9.675 and a 9.725. Ashley Morgan and Samantha Shapiro contained the damage to some extent with a pair of 9.850’s; but it was clear that Stanford would be playing catch-up for the rest of the meet.

In the second rotation, the Gym Dogs, now on bars, notched a second 49.400. Lindsey Cheek and Brittany Rogers produced scores of 9.875; Shayla Worley added a 9.850; and Brandie Jay and Chelsea Davis added a pair of 9.900’s. Over on vault, Stanford was scoring a 49.125, led by Nicole Dayton’s 9.925, a pair of 9.800’s from Pauline Hanset and Kristina Vaculik; and a 9.825 from Melissa Chuang.

Moving to the beam for the third rotation, the Gym Dogs got off to an excellent start with a score of 9.875 from Lindsey Cheek, a score that would be matched by Shayla Worley four lineup spots later. In between those two 9.875’s, however, the Gym Dogs had a rough patch and had to count scores of 9.625 and 9.550. In the anchor position, Kaylan Earls scored a 9.900 to salvage a 48.825 team score, leaving them with a shot at a 197 meet score, although getting there would require a season-high 49.375, which would be difficult. Stanford, on floor in this rotation, was showing the inconsistency that had plagued them earlier. In spite of four scores of 9.800 or higher, they could manage only a 48.375 team score, led by a 9.875 from Pauline Hanset.

While the odds were that Georgia would finish in the middle to high 196’s — their season best and certainly very respectable — the Gym Dogs had different ideas. Kaylan Earls led off with a 9.900; Christa Tanella and Brandie Jay added 9.850’s; Cat Hires contributed a 9.875; and Shayla Worley anchored with a 9.900. Their team score of 49.375 was their best of the season by far; and it brought them to that symbolic 197 achievement, a threshold that is commonly interpreted as setting the very best teams apart from the merely very good teams! Stanford rebounded from their troubles on floor in their third event, scoring a 49.050, led by an impressive 9.925 from Amanda Spinner.

The energy and confidence of the Gym Dogs has been palpable in recent weeks; and that makes them a fun team to watch! Next up for them is a five-team meet, the Metroplex Challenge, where they will face LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon State, and Washington in the Ft. Worth Convention Center, Ft. Worth, Texas. The meet will take place on Saturday, January 26, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (7:00 p.m. local time). Go Georgia!

Georgia Defeats Auburn in Stegeman Coliseum
(Friday, January 18, 2013)

Georgia Gym Dogs vs. Auburn Tigers: Post-Meet Interviews
It would be hard not to have a good feeling about this year’s team. The coaching is impressive;
the seniors are providing the kind of leadership that brings out everyone’s best; and all the
athletes are making visible progress week-by-week. That is the sort of situation that
breeds admiration for this team.
(Note.— Video from YouTube)

Christa Tanella
Christa Tanella has become a major asset to the Gym Dogs this season.
Photo by AJ Reynolds/Staff
Athens Banner Herald

Athens, GA.— For the second home meet in a row, the Gym Dogs performed in front of fans that might not ordinarily even have been on campus. Two weeks ago, most of the students were still at home finishing their Christmas/New-Year breaks; this week, many had departed for a long weekend made possible by the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Nonetheless, attendance of more than 8,500 fans watched the Gym Dogs defeat the Auburn Tigers 196.050 to 195.700.

In the first rotation, Georgia (on vault) notched their third straight 49+ score on this event with a 49.150, led by Sarah Persinger’s 9.825, Lindsey Cheek’s 9.900, Brittany Rogers’ 9.850, and Brandie Jay’s 9.800. Over on bars, Auburn also looked very solid, led by a triplet of 9.800’s from Bri Guy, Abbey Habicht, and Megan Walker, plus a 9.875 from Caitlin Atkinson and a 9.850 from Petrina Yokay, for a team score of 49.125.

Switching events for the second rotation, Georgia scored a 49.400 on bars, while Auburn scored a 49.000 on vault. For the Gym Dogs, Lindsey Cheek and Shayla Worley contributed solid 9.850’s and Christa Tanella and Brittany Rogers added a pair of 9.875’s. Chelsea Davis anchored with a near-flawless 9.950. For Auburn, notable performances included a 9.850 from Toi Garcia and a 9.875 from Bri Guy.

Sarah Persinger
Sarah Persinger put up three strong scores in the three events she competed, including this 9.825 on beam.
Photo by AJ Reynolds/Staff
Athens Banner Herald

Both teams cooled off a little bit in the third rotation, Georgia on beam and Auburn on floor. Georgia had two routines with major (0.5) deductions and had to count a 9.275 in their team score. Still, Kaylan Earls (9.800), Sarah Persinger (9.825), and Shayla Worley (9.850) contained the damage. Christa Tanella added a 9.750 that may have penalized for connections—it was a generally solid performance. Over on floor, Auburn’s Bri Guy had a very nice 9.900 routine which helped Auburn to close the gap with Georgia by 0.300. Going into the final rotation, though, Georgia still led 147.050 to 146.925.

In the final rotation, all six of the Gym Dogs’ competitors had visibly impressive performances, but two of their routines had deductions that lowered their scores. Cat Hires stepped out of bounds twice en route to a 9.500 in a routine that otherwise could have been a 9.900; and Shayla Worley scored a 9.375 in a routine that seemed to have 9.900 written all over it. When she finished, the crowd cheered like they were expecting a 10.0 score. When the score was finally posted, fans near us were squinting and asking, “Is that a three or an eight?” Shayla forgot a required part of her routine and received a 0.500 deduction. That is hardly a rare mistake among athletes, especially in the early part of a competitive season. They may know the playbook or routine like the backs of their hands; but there is some cognitive overload from a large amount of details swimming around in one’s mind and the noise and excitement of the situation may foster mistakes. Nonetheless, you get those things out of your system. What’s important is that all six routines, including the truly beautiful routine of Cat Hires, bode well for what lies ahead. Kaylan Earls’ 9.850, Christa Tanella’s 9.875, Sarah Persinger’s 9.900, and Brandie Jay’s 9.875 led the Gym Dogs; while Megan Walker’s 9.875 and Caitlin Atkinson’s 9.850 helped lead Auburn to their highest total team score of the season.

The Gym Dogs will return to Stegeman Coliseum in less than three days for a meet against the Stanford University Cardinal at 2:00 p.m. We love our team and we’re sure they know that!

Nationally #11 Ranked Georgia defeats #12 Arkansas
(Friday, January 11, 2013)

Fayetteville, AR.— Nationally #12 ranked Arkansas hosted #11 Georgia Friday night in Arkansas’ Barnhill Arena. After three rotations, Georgia led 147.175 to 146.775; but one question was whether the Gym Dogs could hang onto their 0.400 lead, having lost a larger lead after three rotations against Oklahoma just six days earlier. This time, however, they finished strong, led by a 9.850 from Lindsey Cheek, a 9.900 from Shayla Worley, and a 9.875 from Kaylan Earls. Arkansas did make a strong effort, but the final meet score was a very encouraging 196.200 to 195.775.

Photo by Carmina Taylor

The Gym Dogs (now 1 win, 1 loss; 1-0 in the SEC) posted their highest scores of the 2013 season on vault, beam, and floor; and they were solid on bars as well. “[This performance] means a great deal,” Head Coach Danna Durante said. “We struggled at the end of the meet last week and we had some goals this week. The major goal was to trust each other and we did that. It was a good finish to the week and a good starting point [for meets] on the road.”

In the first rotation, Arkansas (on vault) took the early lead, led by a 9.875 from Katherine Grable and a 9.850 from Kelci Lewis. Georgia (on bars) stayed close, however, led by a pair of 9.850’s from Christa Tanella and Chelsea Davis. After one rotation, Arkansas was ahead 49.150 to 49.025.

Switching events for the second rotation, Georgia came storming back with a season-high 49.325, led by a pair of 9.900’s from Lindsey Cheek and Cat Hires, and a 9.875 from Brittany Rogers. Meanwhile, over on bars, Arkansas was garnering a team score of 48.725, with no individual contribution above 9.775.

Photo by Carmina Taylor

For the third rotation, Georgia moved to the floor while Arkansas went to the beam. This is the event where Georgia had problems last weekend; but they came back with a good performance this week, led by a 9.875 from Christa Tanella, a 9.750 from Sarah Persinger, and a 9.800 from Shayla Worley. Arkansas narrowed Georgia’s lead by 0.025 in this rotation, led by a pair of 9.875’s from Sydnie Dillard and Katherine Grable.

Going into the final rotation, the Gym Dogs would be on the always-treacherous beam and Arkansas would be on the home-crowd-friendly floor. At this point in the meet, Georgia led in team score 147.275 to 146.775, a 0.500 advantage. Leading off for the Gym Dogs was Lindsey Cheek, whose 9.850 got the scoring off to an excellent start. Georgia would finish with a 9.900 from Shayla Worley and a 9.875 from Kaylan Earls, sealing the victory for the Gym Dogs. Over on the floor, Arkansas was making a valiant effort to come back, led by a pair of 9.850’s from Kelci Lewis and Sydnie Dillard, plus a 9.925 from Katherine Grable. But they simply had too much ground to make up even with a strong finish.

Next on the Gym Dogs’ schedule will be a dual meet with the Auburn University Tigers in Stegeman Coliseum one week from today (January 18 at 7:30 p.m.). With less than three days of rest, the Gym Dogs will then face Stanford (January 21 at 2:00 p.m.). As this is written (January 12, 2013), Auburn is ranked #16 in the nation by and Stanford is ranked #6. These will be exciting meets to watch and we recommend that Gym Dogs’ fans see them at Stegeman Coliseum if that is feasible, considering how far they live from Athens, GA. Take care and stay tuned!

Georgia Loses to Oklahoma 196.450 to 195.425
(Saturday, January 05, 2013)

Danna Durante
Georgia head coach Danna Durante yells encouragement to her team
Photo by AJ Reynolds

Athens, GA.— In their season opener in Stegeman coliseum, Georgia was defeated by the 4th ranked University of Oklahoma Sooners 196.450 to 195.425. They had a significant lead after the first rotation; an even greater lead after two rotations; and a small lead after three rotations. Although they looked better than their score indicates, they had a string of mishaps in the fourth rotation, where they were on floor and the Sooners were on beam. Oklahoma, however, scored a very respectable 49.200 as a team in the final rotation, while Georgia could manage only a 48.000. Kaylan Earls began the final rotation for Georgia with a solid 9.850 and Christa Tanella added a 9.825, which except for a couple of bobbles could have been a very nice routine indeed. Similarly, Shayla Worley contributed a 9.775, which (probably) was reduced by 0.100 because she went out of bounds by about one inch on her final tumbling pass. On the instant replay, it appeared that she had not gone out of bounds, but the angle we had revealed that the judges were correct. (Unfortunately they do not give any credit for being just barely out of bounds!).

What mainly accounts for the Gym Dogs’ relatively low team score was three falls on floor exercise, two of which had to count towards the team’s score. Cat Hires, Sarah Persinger, and Brandie Jay all received major deductions. While their routines were quite good for the most part, there is no getting around the fact that major deductions make for low scores.

For Georgia to compete effectively against the top teams in the nation, they must get their talented freshmen and sophomores into their starting lineups regularly. If those athletes are permitted to develop, they could become solid performers by the end of the season, filling nine or more lineup positions with contention-caliber routines. In addition, junior Lindsey Cheek could play a much larger role than she did last season; she is a two-time First-Team All-America honoree that was not in the lineup much last year. The most difficult part of finding the best lineups, of course, is that it inevitably means demoting some returning athletes from the roles they played last season; but that is what the team needs to compete at a higher level.

We applaud Head Coach Danna Durante’s willingness to take the long view rather than the short view. Freshmen Brittany Rogers and Brandie Jay were elite athletes last year. Although even elite athletes get the jitters when they first perform in front of large college crowds, it is important to get them over that hurdle, which surely will be achieved fairly quickly. Also, Coach Durante did get Lindsey Cheek into the lineup on three events; and Lindsey responded with a 9.825 on vault, a 9.850 on bars, and a 9.800 on beam. While it is disappointing to lose one’s first meet of the season, the Georgia coaches are taking the view that Alabama’s Head Coaches Sarah & David Patterson did in the months leading up to their NCAA Team Championship in 2011 (which they reprised in 2012). The Crimson Tide scored below their potential in a few early-season meets because they got their unseasoned newcomers into their lineups from the start; but that kind of far-sightedness pays dividends down the road. Oklahoma is doing the same thing this season with highly acclaimed freshmen Keeley Kmieciak (four events) and Haley Scaman (three events) filling roughly 30% of their lineup slots. Kmieciak had a fall on vault, but Oklahoma was able to drop that score, avoiding the situation Georgia had on floor where major deductions had to be counted.

The Gym Dogs will get a chance to square the record against Oklahoma on January 26, when they face L.S.U., Oklahoma, Oregon State, and Washington in the Metro Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas. But they have other serious challenges to confront between now and then.

Next among those challenges will be the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Friday, January 11. That meet will be another early season “reality check” for the Gym Dogs. Stay tuned!

§ § §

Georgia Gymnastics 2013 Schedule
Date Opponent / Event Location Time
01/05/13 Oklahoma Athens, GA 4:00 p.m. ET
01/11/13 Arkansas Fayetteville, AR 8:00 p.m. ET
01/18/13 Auburn Athens, GA 7:00 p.m. ET
01/21/13 Stanford Athens, GA 2:00 p.m. ET
01/26/13 Metro Chal. Ft. Worth, TX 7:00 p.m. ET
02/02/13 Alabama Athens, GA 4:00 p.m. ET
02/08/13 Kentucky Lexington, KY 7:00 p.m. ET
02/16/13 Florida Athens, GA 4:00 p.m. ET
02/22/13 Missouri Columbia, MO 7:30 p.m. ET
03/01/13 L.S.U. Baton Rouge, LA 8:00 p.m. ET
03/09/13 Utah Athens, GA 4:00 p.m. ET
03/17/13 NC State Raleigh, NC 4:00 PM ET
03/23/13 SEC Championship Little Rock, AR TBA
04/06/13 NCAA Regional TBA TBA
04/19/13 NCAA Prelims Los Angeles, CA TBA
04/20/13 NCAA Team Finals Los Angeles, CA TBA
04/21/13 NCAA Individ Fnls Los Angeles, CA TBA

Georgia Gymnastics 2013 Roster
Name Class Hometown High School Club
Bekah Bennetts Jr Woodstock, GA Sequoyah GA All-Star Gymnastics
Mary Beth Box Fr Calhoun, GA Calhoun Cartersville Twisters
Kati Breazeal Sr Allen, TX Allen WOGA
Lindsey Cheek Jr Watkinsville, GA Oconee County Georgia Elite Gymnastics
Noel Couch Sr Towaco, NJ DePaul Catholic North Stars
Chelsea Davis So Austin, TX iSchool High Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Kaylan Earls Jr Chicago, IL C McAuliffe Academy Arena Gymnastics
Cat Hires Jr Tampa, FL Plant LaFleur’s
Demetria Hunte So Alpharetta, GA Alpharetta Imagine Gymnastics
Brandie Jay Fr Fort Collins, CO Rocky Mountain GK’s Gymnastics
Whitney Kirby So Claremont, NC Christian Fam Academy Shooting Stars Gymnastics
Sarah Persinger So Mount Holly, NC East Gaston Southeastern Gymnastics
Camille Pfister So Kennesaw, GA Kennesaw Mountain Gymnastics Academy ATL
Brittany Rogers Fr Coquitlam, BC Terry Fox Secondary Flicka Gymnastics
Christa Tanella Sr Lucas, TX Home schooled WOGA
Anysia Unick Fr Calgary, AB Bishop Carroll Calgary Gymnastics Center
Shayla Worley Sr Orlando, FL Boone Orlando Metro Gymnastics

National Ranking of Teams

The current national ranking is now the final one until the NCAA Team Championship is completed. Four weeks ago the ranking criterion changed from team average (AVE) to regional qualifying score (RQS); and now it has become National Qualifying Score (NQS). National Qualifying Score is the sum of a team’s final RQS and its score in its NCAA Regional. For example, Georgia’s final RQS was 197.260 and its score in the Corvallis NCAA Regional was 197.425. Therefore, Georgia’s NQS = 197.260 + 197.425 = 394.685, which is the fourth highest in the United States.

The teams that qualified for the NCAA Nationals were determined by their NQS ranks. It is notable that the 12 teams that qualified for the NCAA Team Championship competition include 6 teams from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). That gives a good indication of how competitive the SEC has been this season. One school from the Big 12 qualified; three from the PAC 12 qualified; and two from the Big 10 qualified. Not a single team from any other conference qualified.

National Ranks (04-08-2013)
Rank Team Name Team NQS
01 Florida 396.240
02 Oklahoma 394.945
03 Alabama 394.815
04 Georgia 394.685
05 L.S.U. 394.455
06 UCLA 394.150
07 Michigan 393.960
08 Minnesota 393.715
09 Stanford 393.510
10 Utah 393.505
11 Arkansas 393.385
12 Auburn 393.315
13 Nebraska 393.020
14 Penn St 392.375
15 Oregon St 392.275
16 Illinois 392.235
17 Arizona 392.190
18 Ohio St 392.055
19 Washington 391.890
20 Denver 391.745

National Ranks (03-11-2013)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Oklahoma 197.570
02 Florida 197.440
03 Michigan 197.175
04 Alabama 197.125
05 L.S.U. 197.055
06 Georgia 196.985
07 Utah 196.940
08 UCLA 196.905
09 Oregon St 196.790
10 Stanford 196.590
11 Nebraska 196.565
12 Auburn 196.510
13 Denver 196.340
14 Minnesota 196.250
15 Arkansas 196.090
16 Penn St 196.085
17 Illinois 196.030
18 Arizona 195.960
19 Kentucky 195.860
20 Ohio St 195.815

National Ranks (03-04-2013)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Florida 197.440
02 Oklahoma 197.410
03 Michigan 197.080
04 L.S.U. 196.965
05 Alabama 196.910
06 UCLA 196.765
07 Utah 196.740
08 Georgia 196.725
09 Stanford 196.590
10 Oregon St 196.565
11 Auburn 196.495
12 Nebraska 196.365
13 Denver 196.150
14 Minnesota 196.130
15 Penn St 195.845
16 Arizona 195.775
17 Kent St 195.755
18 Ohio St 195.750
19 Illinois 195.685
20 Kentucky 195.635

National Ranks (02-25-2013)
Rank Team Name Team RQS
01 Oklahoma 197.410
02 Florida 197.280
03 Michigan 196.975
04 Alabama 196.810
05 L.S.U. 196.770
06 UCLA 196.720
07 Georgia 196.595
08 Utah 196.375
09 Oregon St 196.370
10 Nebraska 196.365
11 Auburn 196.270
12 Stanford 196.235
13 Denver 195.990
14 Minnesota 195.775
15 Arizona 195.640
16 W Virginia 195.560
17 Washington 195.520
18 Ohio St 195.495
19-t Illinois 195.480
19-t Kent State 195.480

National Ranks (02-18-2013)
Rank Team Name Team AVE
01 Florida 197.296
02 Oklahoma 197.171
03 Michigan 196.939
04 Alabama 196.842
05 UCLA 196.650
06 L.S.U. 196.507
07 Utah 196.383
08 Georgia 196.369
09 Nebraska 196.283
10 Stanford 196.129
11 Oregon St 195.832
12 Minnesota 195.829
13 Denver 195.796
14 Auburn 195.746
15 Arizona 195.586
16 Boise St 195.555
17 Maryland 195.396
18 Illinois 195.342
19 Arkansas 195.296
20 Ohio St 195.286

National Ranks (01-28-2013)
Rank Team Name Team AVE
01 Florida 197.025
02 Oklahoma 196.938
03 Michigan 196.900
04 UCLA 196.650
05 Alabama 196.533
06 L.S.U. 196.394
07 Nebraska 196.383
08 Georgia 196.290
09 Utah 196.283
10 Minnesota 195.958
11 Stanford 195.825
12 Arizona 195.638
13 Denver 195.569
14 Oregon St 195.438
15 Maryland 195.425
16 Kentucky 195.238
17 Auburn 195.150
18 Ohio St 195.125
19 Illinois 194.992
20 California 194.975

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The University of Georgia Gymnastics Team, nicknamed the “Gym Dogs,” has a rich tradition of success. At the last official count, 66 gymnasts had earned 331 All-America honors; and 18 Georgia gymnasts had won 40 NCAA Individual Championships. Georgia leads all US women’s gymnastics programs in the number of NCAA Individual Championships it has earned; only one other team has more than 25. Georgia also has 10 NCAA Team Championships; and she owns NCAA Championship records for team scores on three of the four apparatuses, as well as the best-ever NCAA Team Championship score of 198.575.

That is a great tradition that athletes, coaches, and fans wish to see continue. Inevitably, a team will have its ups and downs, just as any individual athlete will. That is the nature of athletics! If winning were inevitable, then there would be no point in holding competitions. What we wish for the Gym Dogs is that they continue to give their best, just as those who came before them did.

Thanks for visiting, have a wonderful day, and come back soon!

A Strong Georgia Gym Dogs Tradition
Gym Dogs 2009
Pictured above are the 2009 Gym Dogs meeting with Dr. Michael F. Adams, President of the University of Georgia, following their victory at the 2009 NCAA Championships. Georgia has a strong tradition of being in the hunt for a National Championship year after year. Gym Dog fans would love to see their team continue that tradition in 2013!

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