April 16, 2009

Opening Statements

Suzanne Yoculan (Georgia Head Coach)
"What a great competition this was, especially for second place. We were enjoying seeing that scramble over there. We had our own interesting competition on balance beam. The first half kept falling. For a few seconds it brought back shades of SECs, but the second half stayed on and then from there it was 49 whatever, 5 something, which is an incredible beam set. It made the whole day for us to be able to hit beam like that, under pressure. We know there is going to be a lot more tomorrow and we had a little taste of it today on balance beam, which I think is very good for our team to be tested like that. We have a lot of places on the other three events where we did not really hit our full potential, never really got any momentum going. We had a couple good routines and then a problem or two and then tried to get it back. I'd just really like to commend these two athletes, Courtney (Kupets) and Tiffany (Tolnay). For seniors to have the meet that they had today, the two of them, they were just absolutely on fire and really led our team on every single event. I just want to commend them for the great focus that they had today. When seniors do that, it makes you really proud to see your seniors have the kind of competition like they had today."

Rhonda Faehn (Florida Head Coach)
"I'm almost speechless by the fact that we are sitting up here right now. With the season we have had and the obstacles that we have endured, it's just a testament to the heart that the athletes and everyone involved with our whole program has put forth is season. We started out a little bit rough. It was tough on floor and in fault, we put ourselves in a hole a little bit, but was unbelievable for us was how they came together to fight and rally strong on bars and finish out super strong on beam. That was great to see. It was tough waiting that last rotation to see what would happen, but it was great for the athletes to be able to say, hey we have another shot tomorrow to better our performance today. Maranda (Smith) of course, what a superstar for us. She started doing all-around just four meets ago and hadn't competed beam in over four years. She's done an unbelievable job and what a team leader. We're just really proud."

D-D Breaux (LSU Head Coach)
"It wasn't easy. We have a rule or law that I tell the kids all the time, it's the law of holes, when you find yourself in one, quit digging. That's basically what we had to do because we were in such a deep dark hole after balance beam that it was just an uphill battle the entire time. I have to commend the effort of the kids because when you're fighting like that there's the added pressure if we make one more mistake we just can't recover. They keep fighting back, and down to our first person on floor did her routine without her music. We had some bumps along the way and some obstacles and they continued to rally, continued to fight and there was a whole lot of fight in the tiger today."

Questions

Courtney Kupets (Georgia All-Arounder)
On her performance on the beam
"It felt really good. It was great. We have such a strong beam team. It could have been any of us up there tonight. It's just an honor."

Rhonda Faehn (Florida Coach)
On when she realized she actually advanced to the Super Six
"When I was actually running across the runway and looked up on the scoreboard and then it was official because you just never know. That was when I went running to the team and basically started crying. What everybody had been through this year, it's unbelievable. I don't have words for it. I talked to Mrs. Val from UCLA many times throughout the season about how you overcome so many obstacles. She said you will see the true character come out of the athletes and the true fight, and you will see that this will be your most rewarding season yet because there is so much passion into it. That's what I felt when I went running over to them. I was really happy for them."

Maranda Smith (Florida)
On if she knew they had advanced
"I was coming out of the locker room after my team because I was icing and I saw everyone yelling and I was like 'Why is my team cheering?' I sprinted to them and was like did we make it, and they said, yeah. I was overwhelmed with emotion and had tears in my eyes. I gave Rhonda (Faehn) a big hug. It's unbelievable what we went through this season, and to come out getting second today and going to the Super Six tomorrow. That's just an achievement within itself more than winning first place. That was just like a win for us."

Courtney Kupets (Georgia All-Arounder)
On if she saw (I couldn't hear who she said) fall off the beam
"Actually, I was in the back and I just found out she fell. We did a good job after that."

Tiffany Tolnay (Georgia)
"Same, I was with Courtney in the back just warming up and stuff. I kind of maybe thought she had a little balance checks here and there. I just didn't hear everyone cheering really loud, but no I didn't know."

Suzanne Yoculan (Georgia Head Coach)
On what she was thinking after that fall
"I was thinking thank god we had that happen to us at SECs and everyone here has experienced it. When somebody falls first up, it's tough. At SECs we couldn't recover from it and it was like the same thing. Cassidy was second up and was like, OK, I'm not coming off again, too. She knew. She was on deck. Sometimes you have to go through those experiences to get stronger and tougher and we had gone through it earlier this season. We have a beam team that is very capable of hitting the routine under pressure and you saw that today. Hopefully we won't have to do beam tomorrow under so much pressure, but I think you always do."

Courtney Kupets (Georgia)
On if losing the all-around championship for the first time was in her head
"Not necessarily, I knew I had been going at a good pace at this meet. If any thoughts like that come into my head, I have to shoot them out and say no, this is for the team. I need to do this routine for the team. They do come in and then you have to send them out."

Suzanne Yoculan (Georgia Head Coach)
On three teams from the SEC advancing
"For one thing, Rhonda is younger, D-D (Breaux) and I have been around and have seen a lot. We share so much of the same emotion and fight, even in recruiting. We have so much in common you can't help but share in the glory with each other at the same time. I know that is how they felt about each other and that's how we feel. It makes you so proud when athletes come together like that and have that kind of bond on the floor. Tomorrow is a new game again. Today was about qualifying. It wasn't really about who was in first, second, or third at all. It was just about getting there. You have to get there before you can win it. We were all going at the same task today and that was to get there. Like I said, we had our moment of tension and we just have such a common ground in what we share. When you have that you just share the glory."

Susan Jackson (LSU)
On if there were any feelings of it being over after the first rotation
"We definitely prepared ourselves for the big hole. We are very resilient and we are fighters and we fought back. During the bye, we went back into the locker room with long faces, droopy faces, and then we were like, it's not over. We have three more events and we just really need to fight back and we did."

Suzanne Yoculan (Georgia Head Coach)
On how Courtney has come back since the SEC Championships
"It hasn't been the easiest last three weeks with her, I must say. We had a little meeting before regionals, she didn't want to compete at regionals in all four events. It's just tough. Tiffany has had her points, too. Pressure just can build. It can take its toll on you at different points in the season. Courtney always has some of her best meets when she has some of her worst weeks of practice. That's been her cycle this year. Some of her best meets were after poor Fridays. These last couple weeks have been rough, but she had the support of her team and everybody was behind her. Her sister showed up today. It meant so much to her. As you know, Courtney competed with Ashley almost her whole life living in Athens. Ashley has always been there for her. She lives in (Las) Vegas now and hasn't been around as much and has made it a little harder. Ashley's surprise today put that big smile back on her face that she had a couple weeks ago. I saw her compete at SECs like she did today. I think there is no one in the stands that can't watch her compete. She just looks like and angel with wings when she comes down on her landings. It's just a joy to watch someone perform gymnastics like that as soft and as graceful as she does. That's how I saw her today. She is a perfectionist in everything. She puts a lot of pressure on herself with everything she does."

Suzanna Yoculan (Georgia Head Coach)
On Tiffany Tolnay
"LSU vault, my gosh, you just have to commend them for their vaulting. I was watching them today and it was incredible, one after another. They were a championship vaulting team today. For us, Tiffany had our best vault and the one and a half (some move) is a difficult vault to do. It's not really rewarding. She definitely did her best on the season, scored a 9.925. She'll have an opportunity to go into vault finals, which for her is good because she does have a second vault. A lot of girls get into vault finals when they don't really have a second vault. It's something that was important to her to be able to put that together. It is an event she has always been good at and I know she is excited and glad she was able to deliver a good one for the team today."

Rhonda Faehn (Florida Head Coach)
On finding the right lineup for beam
"In the beginning of the season, beam was definitely inconsistent for us because we had to change our lineup every week. We had a new injury each week. When you don't have the consistent order and the athletes are used to going after certain athletes and they get in their rhythm, it makes it more difficult. I think for about the first three for four meets, we had to count a fall. That was tough, but we finally settled on what the lineup was going to be and have had no issues since. It has been one of our strongest events. It was our strongest event at regional and I think it was here as well tonight. The team now they know, like Maranda (Smith) said, it started a little bit before Utah, that we trust each other and we know that when our teammate is going to go up they are going to hit. That is a big difference from where in the beginning of the year we were wondering who's going in, what are they going to do, so there was a lot of confusing in the beginning of the season, but not anymore. That's a long time ago. It's a long season.

LSU Coach D-D Breaux
On making it to Super Six two years in a row
"It is definitely a benchmark. It indicates we are doing a lot of things well. I have to commend our coaching staff and athletes because they have persevered and really hung in there. They have done the work all season long and have come to this point a second time. I have been in that position Stanford was in tonight. That position I was in tonight, I have been there many times. To be the team that is on top is pretty gratifying. It's humbling but also a very gratifying feeling.

On her speech in the locker room after her teams beam performance
"By the time I got to the locker room, they were already having internal pep rallies. They were beginning to turn the corner and make the realization that everybody has to do all four events. I keep telling them, let's make it a meet, and they did. I told them every team here is at the bottom of this mountain and we're clawing our way to the top and you have to be able to sacrifice and get to the top, and that's what they did. "