April 5, 2014
ATHENS, Ga.----Georgia advanced to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships Saturday evening as the No. 6 Gym Dogs recorded a 196.375 to place second in the Athens Regional behind No.7 Michigan, which recorded a 196.750.
Georgia, which faced the unusual rotation of starting on bars and finishing on vault, saw four different gymnasts' record team high scores on the four rotations. Lindsey Cheek notched a 9.95 on vault to top the event standings and tied with Brittany Rogers with 9.95's on bars to lead Georgia and split the event title. Freshman Morgan Reynolds scored a 9.85 on beam to share the event title with five other gymnasts, while Brandie Jay's 9.9 stood as the home side's best mark on floor. Michigan's Joanna Simpson claimed the event title on floor exercise.
"We survived and advanced and that's what we are going to take out of it and then we will continue on Monday," Georgia head coach Danna Durante said. "Obviously bars continue to be very strong for us, so I was excited that we did a good job there. We are going to the prelims; we just made it a little tougher on ourselves than we needed to. The team knows that they are absolutely capable of doing way better than this in the prelims. Based on what I saw and the mistakes that we made and we were still only .4 down, I think if we do our job we will make super six, although we absolutely have to do our job on all four events."
The Gym Dogs got the meet off to the perfect start as they recorded a score of 49.6., the fourth time this season that Georgia has scored a 49.6 or above. The event saw all five scoring gymnasts for Georgia record a 9.9 or higher as the Gym Dogs continued to support their No. 1 national ranking on bars. Cheek and Rogers top scored for Georgia as they both scored 9.95. Jay, Cat Hires and Kiera Brown all recorded 9.9's. Rogers' score tied her career high mark and was the fourth time the Olympian has recorded a 9.95 this year.
Georgia's momentum from the impressive bars routine stalled somewhat as they moved to beam for the second event of the regional. Despite a solid 9.85 from freshman Morgan Reynolds, which was also a new career high, the Gym Dogs had to count a fall after both Cheek and Kaylan Earls came off the beam. With the 48.475 score on beam the home side found themselves sitting second after two rotation's as Georgia's 98.075 trailed Michigan's 98.775.
Moving to floor the Gym Dogs were anchored by Jay's 9.9 which closed out a score of 48.875 ahead of Georgia's final rotation. Senior Earls also recorded a solid score of 9.875 as the Gym Dogs penultimate athlete to set the stage for Jay's team high score on the event.
The Gym Dogs finished the meet on an event which has been a team strength all season, and so it proved on this night as the 49.425 Georgia recorded was more than enough to punch its ticket to the Prelims. Headlining Georgia's vault was the performances of Cheek and Jay. In her final routine in Stegeman Coliseum Cheek finished on a high as she landed a 9.95 that drew an eruption from the Coliseum crowd. Jay registered a 9.9 as they led the Gym Dogs to a 49.425 event score and rounded out the 196.375 for the day.
Georgia returns to action April 18 at the NCAA Prelims in Birmingham, Ala.