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Gym Dogs Open Home Slate With Pink Out Against LSU
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ATHENS, Ga. -- After three straight meets on the road against top-five opponents, Georgia finally returns to Athens for its first home meet of the year Saturday against the No. 5 LSU Tigers in Stegeman Coliseum at 4 p.m.
"We are so excited to finally be at home in front of our home crowd," Georgia head coach Suzanne Yoculan said. "We started the year with the toughest competition in the country, and we have taken a lot from those situations that will do nothing but help us as the season progresses. Now we have another strong opponent at home, and can't wait to finally perform our routines for our fans."
For the Gym Dogs (2-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) this also is the "Pink Out" meet, in which they are requesting that all fans wear pink in support of the fight against breast cancer.
"This is a cause very special to our hearts, especially after former Gym Dog Talya Vexler was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003," Yoculan added. "We hope our fans will show up in pink and truly make this whole experience the best in can be."
The Gym Dogs are fresh off a win over No. 1-ranked Florida in Gainesville last weekend and own the No. 2 billing heading into this meet. They also are ranked second on bars, floor, and vault and seventh on the beam. Eight different Gym Dogs hold individual rankings as well, including Courtney Kupets with three top-10 rankings in the all-around (9), vault (5) and bars (3).
Fifth-ranked LSU comes to Athens with a perfect 5-0 (1-0 SEC) record that includes a first-place finish at the Cancun Classic against Denver, Minnesota and Texas Woman's and dual victories over Iowa and Arkansas. The Tigers' average through three meets is a 195.725 with a high of 195.900 coming last weekend against Arkansas.
In addition to a No. 5 national ranking, the Tigers also appear in the top 15 on each individual event. Their highest is fourth on floor with a 49.158 average followed by sixth on vault with a 49.092 average. They come in at sixth on bars and 11th on beam as well.
The Tigers are led by all-arounder Ashleigh Clare-Kearney. The junior is tied for first in this week's all-around rankings with an average of 39.525. She is the reigning SEC Gymnast of the Week after winning a third consecutive all-around title with a 39.550 against Arkansas last Friday. She is ranked fourth on floor, sixth on beam, second on vault and 21st on beam.
The Georgia-LSU Series
Georgia leads the all-time series with LSU 50-13-2 and has won the past two dual meets with the Tigers. LSU won the 2005 contest in Baton Rouge, 196.375-195.525, the second in a stretch of four straight losses for the Gym Dogs before recovering and going on to win the NCAA title at the end of the year. Georgia rebounded for a win in Athens in 2006, 197.150-196.100, and then defeated LSU again in Baton Rouge in 2007, 197.425-196.450. That score was Georgia's fifth highest total last year and third highest in the regular season.
Pink Out The Coliseum vs. LSU
Ever since former Gym Dog Talya Vexler (competed from 1999-2002) was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, the program has greatly supported the cause to cure the disease, one way by holding a Think Pink meet each year. This year's meet is against LSU on Jan. 26 and is being called a "Pink Out." Similar to the football team's "Blackout" against Auburn and in the Sugar Bowl where fans were asked to don black attire, the Gym Dogs are asking that fans wear pink to the meet. Official pink T-shirts for the meet can be purchased for $15 by clicking the appropriate link on Georgia's athletic web site at All proceeds go to Athens Regional Medical Center. Vexler since has been cured of breast cancer and currently is an assistant coach for the University of Iowa gymnastics team.
The Gym Dogs opened their season on the road for three straight meets against top-five opponents. This weekend's contest against LSU, yet another top-five team, will be the latest home-opener for the Gym Dogs since 1996 when they openend their home slate against LSU on Jan. 27. This was the first time since 2004 the Gym Dogs did not have their first dual meet of the year in Stegeman Coliseum. They opened at Auburn that year with a 196.695-194.575 victory. 2004 also was the last time the Gym Dogs have dropped their home-opener, falling to UCLA, 197.850-197.475. The only other home-opener Georgia has dropped under Yoculan was in her first year in 1984 to Alabama.

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