Gym Dawgs aim for 7th NCAA Crown

ATHENS – Last season, Georgia's gymnastics team entered the NCAA Championships seeded 12th and won its sixth national title. That's a result of coaching.

If the Gym Dogs don't win title No. 7 this year, that'll be a result of coaching, too, 23rd-year coach Suzanne Yoculan said.

"If this team does not win the national championship then I've failed in terms of preparing them for it," Yoculan said, "because they certainly have the talent and ability to do it."

Georgia lost just one gymnast from last year's team and added a freshman class that includs Olympic medalist Courtney Kupets and three-time Junior Olympic national champion Tiffany Tolnay. The Gym Dogs (26-0) are ranked No. 1 in the country overall and No. 1 in all four of the sport's events.

"If our team is focused, relaxed under pressure and in sync, we are force," Yoculan said. "Nobody can touch us."

The national championship meet begins tonight on the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. The last time the Gym Dogs competed there was in 1993, and they scored a 198 to win the national title.

Georgia will compete in tonight's second six-team session. The top three teams from each session advance to Friday night's Super Six, where the team with the highest score will be crowned national champion.

"I feel like we've been waiting for this day a long time," Yoculan said. "We're anxious to get on the floor and hit our peak performance because we haven't done that yet. We feel like it's our weekend we really do. I'm as comfortable with this team's chances of winning a national title as any other team we've had."

Georgia is .6 points ahead of second-place Utah in the most recent gymnastics standings, not a margin in the world of college gymnastics.

"It's important to make sure (the gymnasts) don't get overconfident or too cocky or too arrogant," Yoculan said. "We've had teams in the past that would have responded to that (ranking), but these girls are not like that. They are very professional in their approach. It's been pretty much a textbook season in terms of us teaching and them responding."


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