2009 NCAA Championship Recap


LINCOLN, Neb. - The Georgia gymnastics team found the perfect way to send Coach Suzanne Yoculan into retirement.

With another NCAA title.

The Gym Dogs claimed the program's 10th national title to become the first team to reach double figures. Georgia also won its fifth straight title to close the career of its venerable coach in style.

"This is such a special team," said Yoculan, who coached Georgia for 26 years. "Their oneness, their cohesiveness, their unity made it all so special. This is an incredible group. I have learned so much for them, and it's an honor for me to end my career as the coach of this team.

"It really is a magical team that has so much fortitude and just love for the sport and passion, and they never quit. I feel blessed, and I actually lived it every day being around them, and that's the thing I'm going to miss the most."

Georgia scored a 197.825, its second-best score of the year, to outdistance second-place Alabama's 197.575 and third-place Utah's 197.425.

"We would not have done this without our fifth senior," said Abby Stack, referring to Yoculan. "She provided the leadership for us to win."

Senior Courtney Kupets, who won her third all-around title on Thursday, paced the Gym Dogs on Friday with a career-best four-event score of 39.9. Kupets had 10.0s on bars and vault as well as 9.95s on beam and floor.

Through two rotations on bars and beam, the Gym Dogs had a score of 98.625. Utilizing their bye, the Gym Dogs made some necessary "halftime adjustments" and came out strong on both floor and vault. Georgia went 49.575 on floor as each gymnast went 9.9 or higher and then posted a season-high 49.625 on vault.

"This team had so much fight," Kupets said. "We went through so many ups and downs this year, and we fought our way here. We fought our way to the national championship."

Georgia opened on bars, scoring a 49.425 led by Kupets' 10.0. Tiffany Tolnay posted a 9.9, followed by Grace Taylor and Gina Nuccio each with a 9.85 and Kathryn Ding with a 9.825.

The Gym Dogs posted a 49.2 on beam as Kupets earned a 9.95 and Courtney McCool scored a 9.9. Georgia also counted a 9.875 from Tolnay, a 9.775 from Taylor and a 9.7 from Hilary Mauro.

Georgia came out of its first bye on fire, scoring a 49.575 on floor. After Stack, Mauro, McComb and Taylor got 9.9s to open for the Gym Dogs, Kupets went 9.95 and Tolnay went 9.925.

Ending on vault, the Gym Dogs recorded the season-high 49.625. Kupets nailed the 10.0, while Ding and Tolnay each had a 9.95, Newby scored a 9.875 and McComb added a 9.85.

"Just incredible fight, from the mistake on the first event and the kind of pressure we felt," Yoculan said. "We battled back on the uneven bars. The balance beam -- shaky, shaky, shaky and more shaky. A lot of people might have lost confidence in us after that, but this team never doubted themselves.

"There was something special in the air when we went to floor and vault. When Abby started us with a 9.9 on floor, I knew that was it. It felt like it was going to be our meet at that point."

"We all wanted to send Suzanne back with something to remember," Taylor said. "It was an amazing championship. It couldn't get better than this. It was beautiful, and we're so honored that we got to be part of this last year for her."

Team Standings

1. Georgia (197.825)
2. Alabama (197.575)
3. Utah (197.425)
4. Florida (196.725)
5. Arkansas (196.475)
6. LSU (196.375)

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