No. 9 Georgia vaults by No. 20 Denver
Gym Dogs post highest season-opening score since 2007
ATHENS, Ga. -- Noel Couch won her first all-around with a score of 39.275 to lead the No. 9 Georgia (1-0) as the Bulldogs defeated No. 20 Denver (0-1) 196.525-193.700 in the season opener for both schools on Friday night.
The Gym Dogs posted their highest overall score in a season opener since defeating Stanford in 2007 with a score of 197.375. Georgia is now 3-0 in season openers under head coach Jay Clark.
"I think winning our first meet is tremendous," Clark said. "It's what we talked about that we wanted to do and for the most part we did exactly what we said we wanted to do in terms of getting a good start coming out of the gate with a level of consistency and confidence that we haven't had in a couple of years. I think for the most part we did that. I told them that I was really pleased with how we did on three events."
"Vault and bars were I thought [were] 'lights out,'" Clark continued. "Then we got to beam and on the beam we looked great. We hit all eight of our routines that we put up there, including both exhibitions. I didn't think our dismount landings were very good and I thought that can be worked on and improved. Then floor, I think some of it is a little bit of anxiety. We have sort of protected them on floor this year in light of some of the issues that we had last year. We didn't want to go too hard on them all fall. I think it's just numbers."
Freshmen Chelsea Davis and Sarah Persinger as well as sophomore Kaylan Earls competed in their first collegiate competition.
"You've got to include Kaylan [Earls] when you talk about the freshman." said Clark. "Kaylan Earls did a fantastic job hitting all three of the events we put her out there on. She just looked like bundle of confidence out there. She didn't execute everything exactly the way she's been training. But overall, she was very strong. I thought Sarah [Persinger] and Chelsea [Davis] did a very good job. Chelsea has very little training under her belt with us to this point and was able to hit three events, one being an exhibition.
Georgia opened the night on the vault, where Kat Ding led the way with a 9.925 and Cat Hires set a new career high of 9.875. The Gym Dogs posted a 49.925 on vault while the Pioneers scored 47.550 on bars to put Georgia up through one rotation.
On the bars, defending national champion Ding tied her career best of 9.975 and Gina Nuccio posted a 9.900, to pace Georgia to a 49.250. Denver scored 49.025 on the vault, and Georgia increased its lead to 98.475-96.575.
In the third rotation, Shayla Worley posted a 9.875 and Christa Tanella set a career high of 9.850 on the beam. Georgia logged a 49.125 on beam and Denver scored 48.725 on floor, as the Gym Dogs entered the final rotation with a lead of 147.600-145.300.
On the floor, Couch and Earls led Georgia with scores of 9.875 and 9.850, respectively. The Gym Dogs posted a 48.925 and Denver concluded its night on the beam with a score of 48.400, bringing the final score to 196.525-193.700.