2008 Season Review
ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia gymnastics team once again proved to be the best in the country as the Gym Dogs won their fourth straight national title with a 197.450 Friday at the Super Six held at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia is now tied with Utah with nine NCAA titles and is the first team to win four straight titles since the Utes ran off a string of five consecutive championships from 1982-86.
Georgia's 197.450 was its fifth highest score in the Super Six.
"I can't say enough about this team," Georgia head coach Suzanne Yoculan said. "They just get it. They know what it takes to win at the highest level and under extreme pressure, and proved that again tonight.
"This senior class will leave Georgia with four titles in four years," she continued. "Not many athletes in any sport get to accomplish that, but these girls have deserved everything they've gotten. They are the kind of gymnasts that make being a coach worth it."
Utah finished second with a 197.125 followed by Stanford (196.750), Florida (196.700), LSU (196.350) and Alabama (196.125) to round out the field.
The Gym Dogs opened the competition on floor, the same rotation they used to win the SEC Championship. Georgia's 49.475 was its highest score of the four postseason meets. Katie Heenan led the team with a 9.95 while Cassidy McComb and Tiffany Tolnay both posted 9.900s.
Georgia scored a 49.225 on vault in the second rotation behind McComb's 9.900, her highest vault of the postseason. The freshman also matched the 9.900 she scored on floor in last night's prelims
After a bye in the third rotation, Georgia led with a 98.700 at the midway point, ahead of Stanford's 98.400 and Utah's 98.375.
Georgia had a few miscues on bars from All-Americans Heenan and Grace Taylor, but McComb and Courtney McCool both stepped up, tying career-best 9.900 and 9.925 marks, respectively as the Gym Dogs scored a 49.375.
"Leading off on the floor exercise was the difference for us tonight," Yoculan said. It was a great rotation and really set the pace for the night. We had people step up in critical situations. It was close all night but after bars we knew that we were close to victory."
Georgia cemented the title on beam in the fifth rotation with a 49.375. Heenan and McCool wrapped up the rotation for the Gym Dogs with scores of 9.950 and 9.900, respectively.
Entering the sixth rotation, Georgia led Utah by a margin of 49.675 and Stanford by 49.825. In the final rotation the Utes posted a 49.350 on bars and the Cardinal scored a 49.125 on vault, not enough to dethrone the Gym Dogs.
Georgia has now won 24 of its last 33 NCAA meets dating back to 1998. In the last four years, the Gym Dogs have finished first at every session - Prelims and Super Finals.
"I love this place," said Heenan. "When we first came here, we didn't know what we were getting into. It has been a great ride and I think tonight was a culmination of all four years. I think we left there tonight without a doubt in anyone's mind that we should have won. This is what we have all dreamed of and we accomplished it. It's been amazing."
Yoculan also passed the 800 win mark in Friday's Super Six. She is now 804-166-7 in 25 years at Georgia.
"It was a storybook ending...a fairy tale and a dream come true," senior Audrey Bowers said. "To win four in a row is amazing, but this year we couldn't have asked for anything more. Our team fought to the end. No one gave up. This group is all about the team. There are no `I's' on this team. It was amazing tonight."
Georgia will have seven gymnasts participating in the NCAA individual finals Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Heenan and Tolnay will compete on all four events. Marcia Newby will go on vault, Nikki Childs on bars, Taylor on bars and beam, and McComb and McCool will compete on floor.
1. Georgia - 197.450 (VT - 49.225; UB - 49.375; BB - 49.375; FX - 49.475)
2. Utah - 197.125 (VT - 49.400; UB - 49.350; BB - 49.100; FX - 49.275)
3. Stanford - 196.750 (VT - 49.125; UB - 49.225; BB - 49.175; FX - 49.225)
4. Florida - 196.700 (VT - 49.400; UB - 49.050; BB - 48.850; FX - 49.400)
5. LSU - 196.350 (VT - 49.225; UB - 49.200; BB - 48.800; FX - 49.125)
6. Alabama - 196.125 (VT - 49.100; UB - 49.075; BB - 48.425; FX - 49.525)
Vault: Paige Burns - 9.750; Lauren Sessler - 9.750; Marcia Newby - 9.850; Cassidy McComb - 9.900; Katie Heenan - 9.875; Tiffany Tolnay - 9.850
Bars: Nikki Childs - 9.850; Cassidy McComb - 9.900; Courtney McCool - 9.925; Tiffany Tolnay - 9.875; Grace Taylor - 9.825; Katie Heenan - 9.325
Beam: Hilary Mauro - 9.800; Nikki Childs - 9.850; Tiffany Tolnay - 9.750; Grace Taylor - 9.875; Katie Heenan - 9.950; Courtney McCool - 9.900
Floor: Abby Stack - 9.850; Grace Taylor - 9.875; Cassidy McComb - 9.900; Tiffany Tolnay - 9.900; Katie Heenan - 9.950; Courtney McCool - 9.775
Georgia Head Coach Suzanne Yoculan
"I don't know where to start. Leading off on the floor exercise was the difference for us tonight. It was a great rotation and really set the pace for the night. We had people step up in critical situations tonight. It was about making the least number of mistakes. I always say that `winning the title is relative to how your competition competes' and tonight we were the best. It was close all night but after bars we knew that we were close to victory."
Georgia Senior Katie Heenan
"I love this place. When we first came here, we didn't know what we were getting into. It has been a great ride, and I think tonight was a culmination of all four years. We did it from the beginning all the way to the end. I think we left there tonight without a doubt in anyone's mind that we should have won. This is what we have all dreamed of and we accomplished it. It's been amazing."
Georgia Senior Audrey Bowers
"It was a storybook ending...a fairy tale and a dream come true. To win four in a row is amazing, but this year we couldn't have asked for anything more. Our team fought to the end. No one gave up. This group is all about the team. There are no `I's' on this team. It was amazing tonight."
Georgia Senior Nikki Childs
"It was amazing. There really isn't a better way to end it. Winning four in a row...it never got old. It was truly amazing. Every single championship and every single team is so special."
(on watching the final rotation). "We were focused on our team the whole time. We knew we had done our job. I don't know if any of us knew what the gap was, but we thought we had a pretty good lead."
Georgia's 2008 NCAA title was its fourth in a row and ninth in program history, now tied for the most with Utah. Georgia is also the only team to win four straight since Utah won five from 1982-86.
This is the fourth time NCAAs have been held in Athens and Georgia's second time winning at home. They won in 1989 and 2008, finished second in 2001 and fifth in 1995.
This is the 10th time in NCAA women's gymnastics a team has won the national title at home.
Georgia now has won 23 of its last 32 NCAA meets. In the four championships years from 2005-08, they finished first at all eight sessions -- prelims and finals.
Georgia concludes the year with a 31-2 record, winning all three postseason titles - SECs, Regionals and NCAAs.
This is the eighth time the SEC Champion has gone on to win NCAAs and the seventh time it has been Georgia.
Head coach Suzanne Yoculan entered tonight's contest with a 799-166-7 career record and posted her 800th victory in the Super Six. Her record now stands at 804-166-7 with nine NCAA titles, 16 SEC titles and 20 NCAA Regional titles. Her teams have placed in the nation's top 3 in 20 of the last 22 years.
Georgia opened tonight's competition on floor, the same rotation it used to win the SEC Championship. The 49.475 in the Super Six was the highest of the four postseason meets.
Freshman Cassidy McComb scored a 9.900 on all three of her events in the Super Six. It was her first 9.900 on vault this postseason. The freshman also had a 9.900 on floor in last night's prelims to make her a First-Team All-American on the event.
Katie Heenan's fall on bars in the Super Six was her only fall this year. She had hit all 48 of her previous routines and finishes her career hitting a total of 220 of her 231 competitive routines, better than 95 percent. The final event of her career was a 9.950 on beam.