Jay Clark is relieved.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm glad the end of all the firsts are done ‚Äî first time you compete against them, the first time you come in here, first time you have to go against them,‚Äù said Clark, who was the Gym Dogs head coach from 2009-12 before joining LSU‚Äôs staff nearly two years ago. ‚ÄúSo know we should go past that. Those kids on the Georgia team know I love them. Hopefully, everybody here knows that we do.‚Äù
Suzanne Yoculan‚Äôs successor spent more than two decades in Athens, and Friday was his first meet in Stegeman Coliseum since leaving in spring 2012.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd be lying if I said I didn‚Äôt have a little bit of nerves but it worked out well,‚Äù Clark said. ‚ÄúWe performed pretty well.‚Äù
No. 9 Georgia defeated No. 2 LSU 197.175-196.875 on Friday.
Senior Lindsey Cheek, who was coached by Clark for nearly 15 years, got to chat with Clark before the meet.
‚ÄúTold me I was doing good this season,‚Äù Cheek said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve known him since I was 5, so it‚Äôs not too emotional for me because I‚Äôm here and I‚Äôm here to do a job at Georgia. I was just excited to see him. Every time I see him I‚Äôm excited to see him.‚Äù
Cat Hires and Cheek both said they took a picture with him and got to catchup a bit before and after the meet.
‚ÄúI just gave him a hug and took a picture with him,‚Äù Hires said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs awesome and we miss him. We love our new coaches, of course. It‚Äôs good to see him. He‚Äôs a old friend. It‚Äôs awesome to see him.‚Äù
Clark said he had people greeting him all day and leading up to the start of the meet.
‚ÄúI walk down the street downtown, see people I knew,‚Äù Clark said. ‚ÄúWhen you‚Äôre here as long as I have been, I came to school here in 1986, you develop a lot of relationships. It‚Äôs good to see a lot of the old people. Everybody was very warm. Overall, it was a good experience.‚Äù
Rachel G. Bowers: email@example.com, twitter.com/RachelGBowers