Gym Dogs enjoying swinging success on bars

Most of the good uneven parallel bar performers need to enjoy flying through the air like Superman.

Gym Dogs enjoying swinging success on bars
Roger Clarkson

They spend much of their time swinging and twisting, and if all goes well, ending straight up and down with their feet on the floor.

“I look at my hands and I wonder to myself how do I hold onto that bar?” Georgia freshman Brittany Rogers said. “I just think it’s the coolest thing that we just twirl and flip and catch, you know what I mean? It’s really precise, too. That’s really cool to be able to do.”

Georgia has the No. 2 bars team in the nation (49.385 RQS) spearheaded by two of the top performers in the country. Chelsea Davis has been ranked No. 1 for a month with a 9.935 RQS. Rogers is tied for No. 3 nationally at 9.9.

“I wasn’t really expecting that,” Davis said. “I just try to go out and do my normal bar routine every week. I love being at the end of the lineup when everybody builds to the end. That’s nice. I guess I’ve just gotten more confident as the year has gone by.”

No. 7 Georgia (6-5-1, 4-1-1 Southeastern Conference) travels to No. 5 LSU (8-3, 4-2) for its final conference dual of the season. First flip is at 8 p.m. today at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.

“We’ve got some great bar swingers, there’s no question,” Georgia coach Danna Durante said. “I think they take a lot of pride in being one of the best in the country. We’ve got Chelsea at No. 1 and Brittany at No. 3. But then we’ve got the rest of them knocking it out too. They’re not far behind. Jay (Hogue) and Phil (Ogletree) have been working together with them to really nail down the details and work on consistency since the fall.”

Bars requires a lot of swinging and grabbing and flipping. But the fundamentals of stopping the momentum, holding position and then restarting are every bit as important.

“Handstands are the most difficult thing,” Rogers said. “It seems a little bit weird because you learn handstands when you’re five or six. But being precise on those is probably the hardest. Everybody has a range of difficulty in their routines but the real trick is those handstands.”

Georgia has a proud tradition of standout bars performers and have produced a national champion in the event three of the last four years — Kat Ding in 2011 and 2012 and Courtney Kupets in 2009.

“You’ve got to be able to perform under pressure,” Davis said. “The two places you can tell where nerves are a factor and pressure can show up are beam and bars. You just have to be cool and collected. I love competing it. I know my bar routine and I feel confident in it so it’s kind of fun to go out there and show the rest of the world what we train every single day. That’s fun.”

Georgia has won 11 bars national titles with three multiple champions. Lucy Wener won three times (1986, 87, 89) while Kupets (2006, 2009) and Ding (2011, 2012) took the title twice. Longtime Georgia assistant and former head coach Jay Clark, now an LSU associate head coach, coached bars and his influence has much to do with the Gym Dogs’ tradition.

“Part of that is tradition and part of that is the kinds of athletes that have been recruited to come here,” Durante said. “There’s no question that we’ve got a really good set of bar swingers and Jay recruited good bar workers.

Georgia at LSU

WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La.

WEBCAST: georgiadogs.com.

TV: Tape delay on ESPNU at 5:30 p.m. on March 7.

RECORDS: Georgia is 6-5-1, 4-1-1 in the SEC; LSU is 8-3, 4-2.

RANKINGS: Georgia is No. 7, LSU is No. 5.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: Georgia: Sophomore Chelsea Davis has been ranked No. 1 in the nation on bars for four straight weeks. Her current average is 9.935 RQS. … Brittany Rogers is tied for No. 3 in the nation on bars at 9.9. RQS. … Freshman Brandie Jay is ranked No. 4 on vault at 9.91.

LSU: Lloimincia Hall is tied for No. 1 nationally on floor exercise with a 9.925 RQS. … Rheagan Courville has won all-around in four straight meets. … Sarie Morrison has hit a perfect 10 on vault this season.

SERIES RECORD: Georgia leads 66-16-2, including 11-5-1 in Baton Rouge.

LAST MEETING: LSU scored 197.1 to finish second at the Metroplex Challenge in January. Georgia scored 196.775 and finished fourth.

SEASON at a GLANCE: Georgia comes off of its highest road score of the season with 196.825 to win at Missouri. LSU scored 196.975 but lost at Auburn last week.

NOTEWORTHY: Georgia assistant coach Phillip Ogletree was an assistant at LSU for 12 seasons before joining the Gym Dogs. LSU associate head coach Jay Clark was the head coach at Georgia from 2010-12. … Georgia is ranked No. 2 in the nation on bars with a 49.385, No. 4 on vault at 49.335 and No. 10 on beam at 49.010 and floor at 49.105. … This is Georgia’s final SEC dual before the championships on March 23. … Shayla Worley tied her career high on beam with 9.95 last week and is ranked No. 8 with a 9.875 average. … LSU has a win against Florida this season, scoring 196.875. … LSU is 3-0 in home meets so far this season.

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