Steady does it for the Gym Dogs on balance beam

The balance beam is the most difficult discipline in gymnastics.

It has also been one of Georgia’s most consistent events in the early part of the season.

“Beam has always been one of our stronger events,” Georgia senior Shayla Worley said. “I think we might not have been our normal steadiness so far but we’re not too bad, we haven’t been shaky. Beam is an event that wins or loses meets. It’s that event where there’s a lot of uncertainty and if you’re going to mess up and your nerves are going to get to you, that’s generally where it happens and that can make or break you.”

No. 8-ranked Georgia (1-1, 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference) hosts No. 24-ranked Auburn (0-4, 0-1) in a dual at 7:30 p.m. today at Stegeman Coliseum. It will be the first of two duals on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Georgia hosts Stanford on Monday.

“It’s the most difficult event of all but we all go up there with confidence,” Georgia junior Lindsey Cheek said. “Nobody goes up there thinking they’re going to fall. Every time we go up there we’ve got confidence in finishing the skills and finishing the routine. You’re going to fall off every now and then but when you’ve been doing skills your whole life, it’s a lot easier than putting out there that you’ve never done.

“We have confidence from years of training and not just a couple of months of preparation for meets. We have years under our belts from doing this event so we’ve got confidence in that.”

Georgia is seventh in the country on beam with a 49.0 average in two meets. Last week at Arkansas, the Gym Dogs scored 49.025 to close out the meet. Georgia has been competing the last two weeks without senior Noel Couch. She had competed on beam in every meet for two consecutive seasons before injuring her thumb the week before the season opener. She is questionable for today’s meet against Auburn.

“I saw early on that we were lacking a little confidence in that event when we’d have competition settings in the gym,” Georgia coach Danna Durante said. “We’ve worked very hard to build confidence in that event and putting them under pressure situations and putting them in competitive situations often throughout the fall. I think it’s a good, strong event and I think on paper that might be our strongest event if you look at depth and what we have.”

Worley has been Georgia’s top scorer on beam so far this season with a 9.9 average which is tied for fifth in the nation. Last season, she took fifth in the NCAA preliminaries and to earn second-team All-American honors.

“It feels great to hear that you’re one of the best on beam but rankings don’t really mean anything,” Worley said. “Ultimately when I’m out there, I just worry about how my routine is going to help our team. It’s really important to keep a stable mindset on beam and not try to be more than you are or hold back and be less. You’ve got to be steady and consistent and that starts in the gym.”



When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Where: Stegeman Coliseum
TV: CSS tape delay at 9 p.m. on Jan. 22.
Records: Georgia is 1-1, 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference; Auburn is 0-4, 0-1.
Rankings: Georgia is No. 8, Auburn is No. 24.
Athletes to watch:
Georgia: Shayla Worley is tied for fifth in the nation on balance beam with a 9.9 average. … Cat Hires is tied for sixth on vault with a 9.913 average. … Chelsea Davis is Georgia’s top scorer on uneven parallel bars at 9.863 which is tied for No. 14 in the nation.
Auburn: Petrina Yokay is tied for No. 1 in the country on bars with a 9.9 average. … Caitlin Atkinson has averaged 39.1 in all-around in two meets. … Toi Garcia has a season-high of 9.813 on vault.
Series record: Georgia leads 72-3, including 25-2 in duals.
Last meeting: Georgia won at Auburn 195.975-195.6 in a dual last season. Georgia also placed first in the Auburn NCAA Regional last season with a score of 197.1.
Season at a glance: Georgia won its SEC opener 196.2-195.575 at Arkansas last weekend. Auburn lost its conference opener 195.525-194.250 to Kentucky last weekend.
Noteworthy: This will be the first of two duals during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Georgia hosts Stanford at 2 p.m. on Monday. … Georgia is ranked No. 2 in the nation on vault with an average of 49.313 points. Cat Hires is averaging 9.913 on vault so far this season. … Noel Couch is recovering from a thumb injury and is questionable for this weekend. … Georgia has outscored both of its opponents on vault, bars and beam and had a competitor finish first or tied for first in those events. … Auburn is in a youth movement with freshmen or sophomores accounting for 17 of the Tigers’ 24 scores so far this season. … Auburn finished fourth in a quadrangular against Arizona, Kentucky and host California in the season opener. Georgia coach Danna Durante was the head coach at Cal last season.

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