March 12, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- The seventh-ranked Georgia gymnastics team was on pace for the highest score in the country through two rotations, but struggled on beam in Saturday afternoon's 196.800-196.050 loss to No. 9 Michigan inside Stegeman Coliseum on Senior Day.
The Gym Dogs had a 98.900 at the midway point - including the highest team vault score in the SEC this season - but had to count two falls on beam in allowing the Wolverines to take the lead in the second half of the meet. Georgia drops to 9-5 at the close of the regular season while Michigan improves to 11-5.
"Vault was spectacular," said head coach Jay Clark. "We got out to such a great start on our first two events. Beam has been there for us all year long. I can't really explain why our best event failed us a little bit tonight. When you do that repeatedly, eventually it's going to bite you. It bit us hard tonight, and it cost us."
The Gym Dogs got a 49.575 on vault in the first rotation to get out to the early lead. That score was Georgia's highest on any single event this season and was the Gym Dogs' best vault total since logging the same score on March 1, 2008 vs. Arkansas. It tied Nebraska for the highest vault in the country this season and also tied the highest event score for the Gym Dogs in the Jay Clark era (floor vs. UCLA, 2010).
The record-setting output came via three scores of 9.9 or better and four marks that either set or tied career highs for the gymnasts. Seniors Cassidy McComb (9.975) and Hilary Mauro (9.950) led the way in the final regular-season home meet of their careers, as McComb set her career-best and Mauro tied hers. Sophomore Noel Couch set a new career best with a 9.925 and freshman Cat Hires also posted her best total to date on vault with a 9.850. The score equaled Georgia's season-high on vault by two full tenths and gave the squad a 49.575-49.175 lead after one while McComb captured her team-best 15th event title.
The Gym Dogs continued to shine on bars, posting their second-highest bar score of the season with a 49.325. Juniors Gina Nuccio and Kat Ding each logged 9.9s as Ding won the event with a 9.925 and Nuccio put up a 9.900. Sophomore Christa Tanella set a career-best with a 9.850. After a strong vault for the Wolverines, Georgia's lead was 98.900-98.575. Georgia's previous best through the halfway point was 98.575 vs. Alabama, good for a 0.325 improvement.
But Michigan took the lead on the third rotation after the Gym Dogs had to count a pair of falls on beam and the Wolverines posted a 49.225 on floor to jump in front 147.800-146.775. The Gym Dogs were strong on floor in the fourth rotation, totaling 49.275 with 9.9s from McComb and Couch - who tied a career-high - as the pair split the event title with UM's Kylee Botterman. But Michigan scored a 49.000 on beam to hold onto the lead and take away the 196.800-196.050 road win over Georgia.
McComb took second in the all-around with a score of 39.425 behind Michigan's Botterman with a 39.475. Botterman entered the meet ranked second nationally in the all-around while McComb is tied for third.
The Wolverines' score tied their best of the season, which incidentally have both been on the road. The Gym Dogs lead the all-time series with UM by a count of 36-5, though Michigan has now won two in a row.
McComb and Mauro were honored prior to the meet for the contributions to the program. The senior duo was a part of Georgia's 2008 and 2009 NCAA championship teams and have each competed in all but one meet in their careers. Both are All-American performers.
"We've just got to figure out why we can't do [what we did on vault] for four events," Mauro said. "We've got to work more on beam and work more on confidence. Consistency builds confidence, so the more we work at it, we'll be confident. We need to hit four events for us to have a chance at SECs."
Tonight's meet will be aired on tape delay on March 15 at 7 p.m. on CSS. Georgia is next in action at the 2011 SEC Championships in Birmingham, Ala., next Sat., March 19 at 5 p.m. ET.
1. Michigan - 196.800 (Vault - 49.400, Bars - 49.175, Beam - 49.000, Floor - 49.225)
2. Georgia - 196.050 (Vault - 49.575, Bars - 49.325, Beam - 47.875, Floor - 49.275)