ATHENS, Ga. - The No. 3 University of Georgia gymnastics team will begin its quest for a sixth NCAA Championship in Denver, Colo., at the NCAA North Central Regional on April 6, according to an announcement made by the NCAA on Monday.
The Gym Dogs will be joined in the regional competition by No. 10 Stanford, No. 14 Denver, No. 23 Missouri, Utah State and Air Force. The top two teams from the regional will advance to the NCAA Championship in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Apr. 18-20.
In a random draw the Gym Dogs will start on balance beam, an event in which they are currently ranked No. 3 in the country. The Gym Dogs1 highest score (49.500) on beam this year came against UCLA (Jan. 13).
"We are really surprised that we are going to Denver," said Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan. "We are the only team in the top nine that is having to travel two time zones to compete. We are dissapointed that regionals is not closer, so that more fans and family members can attend the meet.
"We competed at Denver last year and it was a great experience, they run a great meet. We look at regionals as a process we have to go through to reach nationals. The site will not determine how well we will perform."
The Gym Dogs enter regionals on a high note after winning their second SEC title in as many years and their sixth in seven years.
Overall, Georgia has won its region 14 times, including 13 of the last 14 years. The only time in that span that UGA did not win its region was when it finished second to Florida in Lexington, Ky., in 1997.
The Gym Dogs set the NCAA benchmark for the most points ever scored in a collegiate meet with a 198.575 at the 1998 Southeast Regional in Athens.
The other 10 berths for the 12-team NCAA Championships field will be determined from five other NCAA Regional competitions -- West (Corvallis, Ore.), South Central (Tempe, Ariz.), Central (Baton Rouge, La.), Southeast (Morgantown, W. Va.), Northeast (State College, Pa.) -- also taking place on April 6.
The six regional fields and sites are as follows:
South Central Region (Tempe, Ariz., host Arizona State) - No. 1 UCLA, No. 12 Arizona, No. 17 BYU, No. 18 Arizona State, Illinois-Chicago, Cal State Fullerton
West Region (Corvallis, OR, host Oregon State) - No. 4 Utah, No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 13 Oregon State, No. 24 Southern Utah, Washington, Boise State
North Central Region (Denver, Colo., host Denver) - No. 3 GEORGIA, No. 10 Stanford, No. 14 Denver, No. 23 Missouri, Utah State, Air Force
Central Region (Baton Rouge, La., host LSU) - No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Iowa State, No. 15 Florida, No. 25 Central Michigan, Illinois State, New Hampshire
Southeast Region (Morgantown, W. Va., host West Virginia) - No. 2 Alabama, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 19 West Virginia, No. 20 Kentucky, No. 21 Michigan State, No. 22 North Carolina
Northeast Region (University Park, Pa., host Penn State) - No. 5 Michigan, No. 8 Nebraska, No. 16 Iowa, Penn State, Pittsburgh, George Washington.