By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Gym Dogs Face Top-Ranked Gators on the Road
Placeholder Image
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - As if facing the Nos. 3 and 5 teams in the country on the road to open the season were not enough, the No. 2 Georgia gymnastics team remains on the road for their first Southeastern Conference meet against the top-ranked Florida Gators on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville.
The Gym Dogs, still slowed due to several injuries, were upset by No. 3 Utah in Salt Lake City last Friday, but then rebounded to score a 196.875 - the second highest score in the country to this point - and beat the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal just two days later.
"It was definitely a tough way to open the season, and I was very proud of how our team handled the adversity," Georgia head coach Suzanne Yoculan said. "Losing like we did Friday, then having to come back just two days later and putting up the score we did said a lot about the drive and mental toughness of our team."
The only team to top Georgia's mark against Stanford is the Gym Dogs' opponent this week. The Gators opened their season last weekend against Illinois-Chicago, posting a 197.125 in the win to lead all scores in the country to this point. It was also the highest season-opening score in their program history. Their individual event scores were enough to place the Gators at No. 1 in the country on vault, bars and floor and No. 2 on beam in the most recent list.
"Florida is definitely a stronger team than we are right now in terms of health and getting in the repetitions they have because of their health," Yoculan said. "It's going to be a challenge, but one we're looking forward to.
"We're looking to get some of our lineups closer to what they were at NCAAs last year, especially on beam," she added. "We're really going to focus on getting a lineup to be able to anchor our road meets. We're expecting to have Grace Taylor back from her sprained ankle in the beam lineup followed by the rest of our rotation from nationals with Nikki, Tiffany, Katie, Courtney Kupets and Courtney McCool. We made some mental mistakes on beam last weekend and want to prove we're a much better beam team than we showed last weekend."
Georgia also is ranked in the top five on all four events in this week's rankings, coming in at second on bars, third on floor and fifth on both vault and beam.
Individually, seven different Gym Dogs are ranked on different events, with three holding down top-10 spots. Courtney Kupets is fourth on vault and third on bars, Katie Heenan is eighth on vault and ninth on beam, while Courtney McCool is ninth on beam and fourth on floor.
Florida has three all-arounders in the top 10, including Melanie Sinclair at No. 1. Amanda Castillo follows at No. 4 and Nicola Willis at No. 7. Additionally, Castillo and Sinclair share the top ranking on bars while Castillo and Willis hold the top spot on floor. Sinclair was named the SEC Gymnast of the Week for her performance last week.
The Georgia-Florida Series
Georgia leads the overall series with Florida, 78-28-1, but competition has been close in recent contests. In 2007, the teams tied in the dual meet in Athens, the Gators won the SEC Championships, but then the Gym Dogs defeated Florida in both the NCAA Prelims and Super Six Finals.
The dual meet came down to the final competitor, where Tiffany Tolnay had to score a 9.925 on floor to tie and did exactly that.
The last time Florida beat Georgia in a dual meet was in 2005, 195.725-195.600. Georgia won both the SEC and NCAA Championships that year. Prior to that, Florida's last dual victory over Georgia came on Feb. 16, 1990 in Gainesville.
Georgia Vs. No. 1
In the two teams' meeting last season, Florida was ranked No. 1 and Georgia No. 2 -- exactly like this year's meeting. In records dating back to 1992, Georgia is 7-0-1 in the regular season when facing the top-ranked team in the country: Here is a look at how the Gym Dogs have fared against top-ranked teams:
Feb. 2, 1996 - #2 Georgia d. #1 Alabama
    197.425-196.125 in Athens
Jan. 12, 1997 - #5 Georgia d. #1 UCLA
    196.95-195.725, in Los Angeles
Jan. 9, 1998 - #2 Georgia d. #1 UCLA
    195.675-194.025 in Athens
Feb. 13, 1999 - #2 Georgia d. #1 Alabama
    197.3-196.35 in Tuscaloosa
Jan. 11, 2002 - #2 Georgia d. #1 UCLA
    196.525-195.65 part of Super 6 Challenge
Jan. 13, 2002 - #2 Georgia d. #1 UCLA
    197.9-196.875 in Athens
Feb. 20, 2004 - #2 Georgia d. #1 Alabama
    197.825-197.55 in Tuscaloosa
Jan. 27, 2007 - #2 Georgia t. #1 Florida
    197.250 in Athens
Georgia only has lost three SEC dual-openers in 24 years under Suzanne Yoculan, against Alabama her first two years in 1984 and 1985, and against the Tide as well in 2002. They lost to Alabama in the 1991 SEC-opener as well, though it was technically a tri-meet, which also included LSU.

Sign up for our e-newsletters