Clark’s gymdogs return to form with high scoring home win
by Ryan Scates
After going through some growing pains in 2010, this year’s Georgia Gymnastics is looking to return to championship form. Led by second year Head Coach Jay Clark, the Gym Dogs have risen to a #5 national ranking and have posted the second-highest score in the country this season to date, a 196.725 that came in Athens against West Virginia.
Coming off of a snow-day-extended winter break, The Gym Dogs just wrapped up a three game home stand that was crammed into a seven day period. The Gym Dogs opened the 2011 home season against rival No. 3 Utah, who was coming off a dual-meet victory over defending national champion UCLA. In that contest, Georgia saw it’s 34-straight regular season home winning streak vanish as the Utes pulled out a razor-thin victory by one-tenth of a point.
However, two days later the Gym Dogs hosted West Virginia at historic Stegeman Coliseum and improved their score by nearly a full point. The Dawgs routed West Virginia 196.725-192.125 in a meet that saw saw seven scores of 9.9 or above, three of which belonged to senior Cassidy McComb who won the all-around with a 39.525. The Las Vegas native spent time after the meet to talk about the mental side of working as a team in a sport that relies so much on individual effort. “We had little mistakes here and there, but the positive thing was that we didn’t react to them. The next person had the next person’s back, and it was a team effort collectively.” McComb explained, “Today was about finishing what we started…When we all have our heads on together it really is magical what happens.”
The Gym Dogs wrapped up their early season homestand against Auburn the following Saturday.
Watkinsville native and UGA early enrollee freshman Lindsey Cheek shined in her first ever all-around competition, tying the nation’s highest score to date at 39.550. In addition to winning the all-around, “sweet-cheeks”, as her teammates call her, scored at 9.9 or above on vault and bars and won three of the four event titles. “She’s surprising even me to some degree,” said Jay Clark regarding the Watkinsville wonder. “We knew we were getting a competitor, and I knew when we got her she was going to be a star at some point…She’s getting cleaner. She’s a competitor, and I’m just glad she’s on our team.
Tonight she really stepped up.” Cheek’s performance can be seen in its entirety when the Auburn meet is aired on ESPNU on Jan. 27 at 2:30 p.m. Georgia posted the third highest score in the nation to date against Auburn, and only Florida has posted a higher score than the Gym Dogs in 2011.
Next the gymnastics team meets Kentucky on January 28th before traveling to Arkansas and then returning to Athens for a showdown with traditional rival and top-ranked Florida on February 12.