Kaylan Earls had some impassioned words for her fellow Gym Dogs after their meet at Alabama last Friday.
The senior had just posted a 9.95 on beam — tying her career high — to end the meet, which was No. 6 Georgia’s fourth loss of the season.
Earls asked coach Danna Durante if she could speak in the post-meet huddle, and speak she did.
“She pretty much told us that this is not how we compete,” sophomore Mary Beth Box said. “(She said), ‘We’re better than this.’ I think our team really needed that. She definitely used a really strong tone of voice and just kind of laid it on the line. We need to do better and we can do better and this is not OK.”
Georgia counted a fall on beam for the second straight road meet and couldn’t cross 197 at an opponent’s venue after again coming tantalizingly close, like it did two weeks ago against Florida.
“I think she really stepped up into the leadership role and we needed to hear that because that’s the second time it’s happened,” said Box, who has averaged a 9.86 on beam the last two meets in the leadoff position. “It doesn’t need to happen again.”
Earls said the seniors and more experienced gymnasts have made themselves available to the younger gymnasts who have shown signs of struggle though the season’s first seven meets, sending encouraging text messages or working with them in practice.
“You can be confident and trust your training and trust each other that we have each other’s backs,” she said. “We try to let them know that they’re capable of doing whatever they do in practice as well in competition.”
Durante, who said she wasn’t sure if there would be any lineup changes Friday against Missouri, had the Gym Dogs do team beam in practice Sunday and Monday, running through the complete beam lineup. She said some had 100 percent days (no falls), though she said others need a few more training days to meet that.
“I’m hoping have a lot more of those, which means they don’t touch the floor,” Durante said. “When they get on the beam, they’re on the beam and they don’t touch the floor.”
Team beam workout led to Tuesday’s partner workouts. Durante paired Earls and fellow senior Lindsey Cheek with younger gymnasts, hoping to create and foster accountability.
“Their workout depends on the senior’s workout and the senior’s workout depends on them so they have to go to bat for their teammate and help them out,” said Durante, whose team hosts the Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Added Cheek: “Every day we’ve been doing team beam … because some days people can be on and then the next day they’re off. It kind of switches off, so you need to be able to have everybody hitting the same day all at once. That’s what we’re trying to perfect in here starting Sunday and we’re going to continue doing that into the next meet on Friday.”
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