Gym Dogs digging deep to overcome poor performances on beam

Georgia’s trouble staying on top of the beam has the Gym Dogs scratching their heads trying to find a solution.


Roger Clarkson

The Gym Dogs have fallen five times in the last two meets, which likely cost the team dual wins against Kentucky and Florida.

“We know we have one of the strongest teams in the country,” Georgia coach Danna Durante said. “We know they’re great competitors and the do a great job in the gym. Obviously we’ve had multiple falls and that’s where the real issue is. Everybody’s had their turn making mistakes so it really isn’t one person. The do train very well and they do very well in intra-squads. So I think it’s more an issue with confidence and mindset.”

No. 8 Georgia (5-5-1, 3-1-1 Southeastern Conference) travels to unranked Missouri (1-7, 0-5) tonight for the first time since failing to advance out of the Missouri Regional in 2010. First flip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo.

“We’re trying to become more mentally tough,” balance beam anchor Kaylan Earls said. “We’re trying to learn how to handle certain situations. We had some mistakes this past weekend (three falls against Florida). A positive thing would be putting it behind us and trusting our training because we do it every day in practice and we don’t have any problems then. We’ve got to learn how to transfer over what we do in practice and what we do the other three events in the meet and start doing it in beam too.”



Georgia has spread the shaky performances throughout the lineup. Of the six beam regulars the last three weeks, Sarah Persinger is the only Gym Dog who has not fallen. The slips have been costly, too. Georgia had to count a fall against Kentucky, and the meet finished in a tie.

Last week, Georgia outscored No. 1-ranked Florida on every event except beam, where the Gym Dogs had to count two falls and lost the meet.

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but obviously it’s a mental thing,” Georgia senior Shayla Worley said. “We train well. We can do it. It’s there. Last week the stakes got a little hight and we let that shake us a little bit. We’re trying to identify exactly what was going on in our mental state and we’re working on it. That takes a lot of fine-tuning and practice and attention to your mental state.”

Although Georgia has been shaky on beam, it has also been spectacular at times. Earls hit a 9.95 three weeks ago against Alabama while Lindsey Cheek and Brittany Rogers both hit 9.9 against Florida last week.

“It’s a point of pride for me and I love beam,” Durante said. “There must be some things that I understand when people struggle. I’m glad that it’s happening now in the regular season instead of later in SECs or NCAAs. Now we can attack it and find out what we need to do and what we need to change. If you don’t know there’s an issue, how are you going to find a solution? It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of thinking.”

Georgia remains confident that it can work through the jitters that have accompanied the team on the beam before the postseason meets start next month.

“It’s more a mental thing because our bodies have been doing this for God-knows how long,” Earls said. “Muscle memory is there. Your body knows what to do. But you have to believe in it and see it first in your mind and I think that’s where we have to start.”

 

TODAY’S MEET

Georgia at Missouri

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday

WHERE: Hearnes Center, Columbia, Mo.

WEBCAST: georgiadogs.com.

TV: None.

RECORDS: Georgia is 5-5-1, 3-1-1 in the SEC; Missouri is 1-7, 0-5.

RANKINGS: Georgia is No. 8, Missouri is unranked.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: Georgia: Sophomore Chelsea Davis has been ranked No. 1 in the nation on bars for three straight weeks. Her current average is 9.915 RQS. … Noel Couch is ranked No. 3 in vault with a 9.925 average but has no RQS rating yet. Brittany Rogers was named SEC Freshman of the week for the second time this week and is ranked No. 4 on bars with a 9.880 RQS average. Missouri: Miranda Eubank scored a career-high 9.9 on bars last week against Kentucky. … Rachel Updike placed first on vault with a 9.875 against Kentucky last week. .. Taylor Medrea hit a career-high 9.85 on bars last week.

SERIES RECORD: Georgia leads 6-1.

LAST MEETING: Missouri finished ahead of Georgia in the 2010 NCAA Columbia Regional.

SEASON at a GLANCE: Georgia comes off of a tie at Kentucky two weeks ago and a home loss to Florida last week. Missouri has not won a dual all season and comes off a loss at Kentucky last week.

NOTEWORTHY: This will be the first time Georgia has been to Missouri since the 2010 NCAA regional, when the Gym Dogs failed to advance to nationals for the first time in 26 years. Missouri won the meet and Georgia tied for second with Oregon State but lost on the tiebreaker. The current Georgia seniors were freshmen in 2010 but only two, Noel Couch and Christa Tanella, competed in the regional. … Georgia outscored No. 1 Florida in three of four events last week but had to count two falls on beam and lost the dual. Despite the catastrophe on beam, Georgia moved up from No. 9 to No. 8 in this week’s rankings. … Chelsea Davis has hit at least 9.9 on bars in six straight meets. … Georgia coach Danna Durante and Missouri coach Rob Drass are both former assistants under Nebraska’s Dan Kendig. … The last time Georgia and Missouri faced in a dual was in 1985. Georgia won with 185.9 points and Missouri scored 174.5 points. This season the teams are averaging 196.369 and 193.821 points respectively.

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