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Georgia Wins 2008 SEC Gymnastics Championship. 16th SEC Championship for gym team.


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First off I know it's just gymnastics, but I am still proud of our defending national champions. :)


DULUTH, Ga. -- In possibly the most bizarre ending to a Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championship, the top-ranked Georgia Gym Dogs edged out Florida and Alabama in front of a record SEC Championship crowd of 9,022 at the Gwinnett Arena on Saturday to claim their 16th conference title.

The Gym Dogs ended on beam and had to sit out the final rotation and watch Alabama on vault and Florida on beam. Alabama nailed vault after vault, finishing with a meet-best 49.450 on the event. With just one competitor left on beam, Florida needed a 9.875 to take over the lead. Gator sophomore Amanda Castillo fell in the anchor position, giving Florida a 49.175 on beam.

Initial scores indicated a Georgia victory, but unofficial scoresheets passed out showed an Alabama win. Teams, coaches and fans all had to wait while the discrepancies were ironed out four nearly 30 minutes. Once the errors were corrected, Georgia did come out on top with a 197.350 just .025 higher than Florida and Alabama with 197.325s.

"I've never been through anything like tonight with the scoring issues we had," Georgia head coach Suzanne Yoculan said. "I had already told the girls we won and we were celebrating in the locker room, and then someone came in and told us that we hadn't won. Fortunately the result did come out in our favor, but it was as close as it could possibly be.

"What a tremendous effort by our team," she added. "I didn't like the draw when I first saw it but it ended up being a great situation for us. We really set the pace early on floor and made ourselves the team to beat. We really stuck with it until the end, and our victory is well deserved."

Several Georgia gymnasts placed on individual events earning All-SEC honors. Katie Heenan finished second in the all-around with a 39.575 a number that made her the all-time leading scorer in Georgia gymnastics history. Tiffany Tolnay finished fourth with a 39.525. LSU's Ashleigh Clare-Kearney won the all-around with a 39.600.

Heenan also shared the vault title with a 9.950, while Tolnay and Taylor tied for first on bars with a pair of 9.950s and Taylor also claimed a share of the SEC beam title with a 9.900.

Additional accolades for Georgia announced following the meet were Cassidy McComb as SEC Freshman of the Year and Suzanne Yoculan as co-SEC Coach of the Year.

Georgia opened with a solid performance on floor led off by Abby Stack's 9.775. Taylor added a 9.850 in the next spot. McComb stumbled out of bounds, but her score was dropped as Tolnay (9.875), Heenan (9.925) and Courtney McCool's (9.900) scores were higher.

As a team the Gym Dogs notched a 49.32 on floor and had the highest score of any team competing in the opening rotation. While Georgia sat out the second rotation, Florida posted a 49.375 on floor to take the lead of teams through one event. Alabama's 49.125 on bars placed the Tide in third.

Georgia's next event was vault, where the team earned a 49.225. Heenan's near-perfect vault scored a team-high 9.950 followed by Tolnay's 9.900. The Gym Dogs led all teams with two event scores after this point, but Alabama only trailed, 98.55-98.475, after a 49.350 on beam.

Florida again took the lead after a 49.375 on vault with a 98.750 two-event score while both Alabama and Georgia sat out with a bye.

The Gym Dogs next went to bars, unfortunately opening with a fall from Nikki Childs. However, as they have done on several occasions and almost reminiscent of floor exercise at last year's NCAA Super Six, the rest of the lineup stepped up and nailed five routines for a team score of 49.500. Tolnay and Taylor both posted 9.950s and McCool a 9.900.

Georgia closed out the meet on beam with a 49.300 behind a 9.900 from Taylor. That gave the Gym Dogs a final score of 197.350 as they had to sit out the last rotation with a bye.

That's when the scoring drama unfolded, though the end result was a victory for Georgia.


1. Georgia 197.350

T2. Alabama 197.325

T2. Florida 197.325

4. LSU 196.500

5. Auburn 196.100

6. Arkansas 194.650

7. Kentucky 194.025



Lindsey Puckett, Auburn

Ashleigh Clare-Kearney, LSU


Cassidy McComb, Georgia


Rebekah Zaiser, Florida


Mark and Rene' Cook, Arkansas

Jeff Thompson, Auburn

Suzanne Yoculan, Georgia


Head Coach Suzanne Yoculan, Georgia

"It was scary. Four people said we won, and I told the team we won. I built up the drama and I told them we had to stay focused, keep up the momentum and learn a lot of lessons tonight. Then I pulled out the t-shirts and the team went crazy. Five minutes laters we were told that we hadn't won, and the team's mood completely dropped. The girls thought we were being tricked. It was high drama and I have never been in a situation like that."

"Alabama was great tonight. They nailed it on vault and they deserved to win. I think the fact that we were off for the last rotation really put the pressure on Florida. All three teams were great tonight and I really believe the national champion will come from the SEC."

"It was great to see the fans. I really disliked the draw, but it ended up playing to our advantage. We were especially great on bars tonight; that was national champion form. We need four events like tonight's bars at the NCAAs to win the championships. We need to be sharper and better to win the national championship."

Georgia Senior Katie Heenan

"Tonight's meet was just like the season. It was up-and-down. All-in-all it was a great meet but not the best. Just like our season we made some mistakes, but we came back and I'm excited to have this SEC title back in our hands."

"Sitting in the locker room we didn't know we had won. We assumed we had lost. We went crazy when coach told us we won. Then we found out it was unofficial. It went from screaming to silence. We were on pens and needles, but the end result was great."


# Today's attendance of 9,022 is an SEC Championship record, breaking the previous mark of 8,570 set in 2004, also at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.

# Georgia won its 16th SEC Championship and fourth in the last five years.

# Georgia's 0.025 margin of victory is the closest winning margin in SEC Championship history. The previous mark was 0.500 (2003: Alabama - 197.575, Georgia - 197.525; 1995: Alabama - 196.175, LSU - 196.125).

# Georgia's 197.350 was its highest team score away from home this season.

# Georgia's 49.500 on bars is the highest team score on bars in an SEC Championship since the Gym Dogs posted a 49.500 in 2001. Georgia's 49.600 on bars in 1998 in the SEC Championship meet record.

# Georgia's winning tally of 197.350 is the highest team score in an SEC Championship since 2003 (Georgia - 198.175, Alabama - 197.950).

# Georgia's Tiffany Tolnay and Grace Taylor and Florida's Melanie Sinclair all posted a 9.950 on bars to tie 16 others for the highest bars score in SEC Championship history.

# Georgia's Katie Heenan is now the Gym Dogs' all-time leading scorer with 2165.400 total points.

# Three different Florida gymnasts shared three event titles Saturday - all with marks of 9.95. Ashley Reed is the first Gator since 1989 to win the vault. Melanie Sinclair is the first to win the uneven bars since 1995 and Amanda Castillo won her second consecutive SEC floor title.

# Florida losses this year come by a combined score of 0.15. The Gators lost to Georgia by 0.025 on Jan. 18 in Gainesville, lost at Alabama on Feb. 29 by 0.100 and lost to Georgia tonight by 0.025.

# Auburn's team score of 196.100 was its highest score in SEC Championship history.


March 29 " Gwinnett Center " Duluth, Ga.


(New SEC Championship Record) 9,022

2007 Attendance at Alltel Arena: 5,134

2006 Attendance at BJCC Arena: 7,607

2005 Attendance at The Arena at Gwinnett Center: 7,518

2004 Attendance at The Arena at Gwinnett Center: 8,570

Two Year Average at The Arena at Gwinnett Center: 8,044

All-Time Attendance Figures at Bartow Arena:

2003: 6,322

2002: 7,023

2001: 7,456

Average: 6,934

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Gym Dogs win 16th SEC title.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/30/08

Welcome to the SEC gymnastics championship, where the scores are always changing even after the competition is done.

And so were the winners.

First it was maybe Georgia. That was after their score went from a 197.2 to a 197.350 due an error by the judges.

"Four people in the scoring line told me we had won," said Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan. "So I came into the locker room and built up the whole drama to the team, the whole staying focused and dropping momentum when we went to beam and lessons that can be learned. Then I pulled out the box of SEC T-shirts and said, 'But I believed in you and I ordered these a week ago.'"

The gymnasts started screaming. They believed they had won. They had the T-shirts to prove it.

"Five minutes later [media-relations personnel] came in and told me 'You didn't win,' " Yoculan said.

"That is not good for the heart," said senior Katie Heenan. 'It just went silent."

More than 30 minutes later, after the judges, checked and rechecked the scores because of the aforementioned scoring discrepancy, Georgia was named the winner of its 16th SEC title.

"I have never been through anything like that," Heenan said. "We were on pins and needles. We were all saying it was like they were sticking us with needles."

The tingling feeling turned slightly better after it was revealed Georgia won 197.350 over Alabama and Florida, each of which had a 197.325 in front of a record crowd of 9,022 at the Gwinnett Center Saturday.

"I have never been through a situation like that where people at the scoring table didn't even know what it was," Yoculan said. "It was crazy."

The ending, for bizarre as it was, really should have been predicted following what unfolded on the floor of the Gwinnett Arena during the competition.

Georgia, a team that is without its top talent Courtney Kupets, was up and down throughout the competition.

"Just like out season we made some mistakes but we came back, and I am excited to have this SEC title back in our hands," Heenan said.

After two events, the Gym Dogs were down, just in the spot Yoculan had told them they would be the night before.

Florida started fast and was ahead after two events. But Georgia had bars coming up. After Nikki Childs slipped on the first routine, her teammates quickly picked her up. Courtney McCool had a 9.9. Tiffany Tolnay had a 9.95 and Grace Taylor had a 9.95.

"That was national-championship form," Yoculan said.

There was national championships-like anxiety on the beam. Georgia wobbled in its last event. But not as badly as the judges said they had. Immediately after the team scores had been posted, assistant coach Jay Clark noticed Tolnay's score was incorrect.

The judges had wiped out her 9.95 on bars and used her beam score, 9.8 twice. Once that was corrected Georgia went from a 197.2 to a 197.350. Still the Gym Dogs had to wait for Florida and Alabama to finish on beam and bars respectively to found out if they had won.

Florida appeared to have it locked up until its last gymnast on beam Amanda Castillo fell for on the second time this season. Her 9.4 left the Gators .025 behind. Alabama, the team Yoculan that had won, finished with a 49.450 on vault. A 9.8 by Kassi Price was the difference there between the Tide winning and losing.

"Alabama was great tonight," Yoculan said. "They nailed it on vault and they deserved to win it."

In the end, finally, it was Georgia that won it.

In addition to the championship, Cassidy McCombs was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and Yoculan was named coach of the year.

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Coach first to spot scoring discrepancy.

DULUTH - Georgia associate head coach Jay Clark noticed something was wrong immediately.

Tiffany Tolnay's beam score, a 9.8, was entered not only in that event, but as her bars score, too. But Tolnay scored an event-high 9.950 on bars and tied for first place in the event with two other gymnasts. The wrong score could have affected the outcome of the meet.

The scoring discrepancy left all seven teams dumbfounded as to who won the SEC Championship. But Clark knew the No. 1 Bulldogs were the winner.

"He kept up with the bar scores," Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan said. "He made sure it was right.

"Let me tell you, he did the job (Saturday)," she said. "Bars was the event that was cooking. It was the event that was national championship form."

No. 5 Alabama and No. 3 Florida were also in a tight race with Georgia for the SEC title, but the Bulldogs edged out the competition by just .025. Florida and Alabama tied for second place.

"I've never been in a situation where people at the scoring table didn't even know what it was," Yoculan said. "It was crazy. It was great to see the fans stuck around to the last minute.

"Any team who won (Saturday) would have deserved to win," she said. "It was an up-and-down meet."

The ideal draw

Just a day after expressing her displeasure with Georgia's draw at the SEC Championship, Yoculan changed her mind.

"It ended up being a perfect draw for us even though I disliked the draw and told the girls I disliked the draw," she said.

Georgia began the competition on floor and ended on beam. The Bulldogs had a bye at the end of the meet and sat in the stands to watch Florida compete on beam.

So you wanna dance?

Georgia's floor choreographer Russell Warfield was in attendance at the SEC Championship.

The Broadway veteran from New York, who choreographs the Bulldogs' routines in the fall, usually attends a few meets a year.

Georgia scored a 49.325 on floor. Senior Katie Heenan led with a 9.925.

"She's amazing to me," Warfield said. "I can't say enough. I'm in denial that this is her last year."

This and that

Freshman Cassidy McComb was awarded the SEC freshman of the year after the meet. ... Several of the Bulldogs streaked their hair red before Saturday's competition. ... Georgia fans were asked to "Black Out" the arena. After the Bulldogs finished warming up on beam, fans began to cheer for Georgia, while the gymnasts responded by chanting with them.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 033008

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Demetrius Dew (3/30/2008)
Does every SEC team have a Gymnastics squad? I notice only 7 SEC teams were involved in the meet.

7 sec teams have gymnastic squads.

Team SEC Pct. Overall Pct. High Score

Georgia 6-0 1.000 10-2 .833 197.900

Alabama 5-1 .833 10-4 .714 197.300

Florida 4-2 .667 8-2 .800 197.925

LSU 3-3 .500 14-3 .824 197.775

Arkansas 2-4 .333 8-6 .571 196.625

Kentucky 1-5 .167 9-7 .563 195.975

Auburn 0-6 .000 7-8 .467 196.600

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Michigan Dominates Big Ten Meet for 16th League Title

March 29, 2008

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Arena)

Event: Big Ten Championships

U-M Team Finish: 1st Place of 7 Teams (196.750)

Records: U-M (23-1, 13-0 Big Ten)

Attendance: 3,852

Next U-M Event: Saturday, April 12 -- at NCAA Regional Championships (Site TBA)

" Complete Results | Notes & Quotes | Photo Gallery

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Led by event titles from sophomore Sarah Curtis (Reno, Nev./Reno) and freshman Kylee Botterman (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central), the No. 4 University of Michigan women's gymnastics team won its 16th conference title in convincing fashion, outdistancing its nearest competitor by a full point at the Big Ten Championships Saturday afternoon (March 29) at Crisler Arena. The host Wolverines scored 196.750 on their home floor to defend their 2007 title, while runner-up Illinois finished at 195.750 in the seven-team meet.

Curtis won the uneven bars title outright with a career-best 9.950 and placed runner-up in the all-around competition with a 39.450, and Botterman shared the floor exercise title with a 9.900 and tied for runner-up honors on vault with a 9.900. Fifth-year senior and Big Ten Gymnast of the Year Lindsey Bruck (Marietta, N.Y./Marcellus) took runner-up on the balance beam with a 9.875 and finished third in the all-around (39.325), while senior Katie Lieberman (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) shared second on vault (9.900) and junior Tatjana Thuener-Rego (Miami, Fla./American School) took runner-up on bars (9.900).

Michigan led from beginning to end, holding a comfortable lead over second-place Penn State for most of the meet until a surging Illinois squad overtook the Nittany Lions for second place. The title is the 16th for the Wolverines since 1982 and the 15th in the last 17 seasons, giving head coach and Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year Bev Plocki 15 Big Ten rings in her 19-year career with the Wolverines.

Penn State followed Michigan and Illinois in third place (195.625), while Michigan State (195.050), Iowa (194.775), Minnesota (194.425) and Ohio State (194.075) rounded out the field.

Michigan drew a less than favorable draw to open the Championships, starting the meet on a bye awaiting the opportunity to tackle the beam in rotation number two. While the Wolverines waited in the wings, Penn State jumped to an early lead with a 49.000 on bars, with Ohio State and Iowa deadlocked in second with scores of 48.675. Minnesota trailed the pack with 48.225, while Michigan State and Illinois waited for their chance to compete.

The Wolverines put up a 49.050 on the balance beam, surviving a scare in the five spot but using a stellar 9.875 from Bruck and a 9.850 from Curtis. Junior Huneth Lor (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) put up a personal Big Tens best score of 9.800, while senior Megan Moore (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester Adams) shined in her first and only Big Ten Championships meet, scoring 9.775. Sophomore Kelsey Knutson (Ames, Iowa/Ames) added a 9.750 to the team total, also setting a personal Big Tens best. Illinois put up a 49.775 on floor in its first event of the Championships, while MSU scored 48.625 in its first event of the Championships on vault.

Michigan kicked back on a second bye, watching its closest competition, Penn State, go 48.900 on beam, surviving a wobble of its own. Michigan State kept in the hunt with a solid 49.000 on bars.

The Wolverines opened the fourth rotation on the floor exercise, scoring 49.050 to remain 0.200 points ahead of next-best Penn State with half the meet behind them. Michigan put up freshman Kari Pearce's (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron) 9.700 and senior Nellie Kippley's (St. Cloud, Minn./Tech) 9.650 after a step out of bounds. Curtis went 9.825 in the third routine and Bruck totaled 9.800, setting up defending Big Ten floor champion Lieberman in the five spot. Lieberman posted a 9.825 to tie for the highest score on the event through four teams, leaving Botterman with the final performance. Botterman brought the crowd to its feet with a thrilling 9.900 routine, tying her career best in the process.

U-M sat out for its final bye of the night in the fifth rotation as Penn State took to the floor and scored 48.825 to remain close to the Wolverines, but Illinois snuck up into third place with a 48.825 on bars to give the Illini a 146.700 score through three rotations -- just a quarter point away from the Lions.

Michigan traveled to vault for the sixth rotation, putting up a huge score of 49.225, 0.125 points better than the next-best team total, to take a half-point lead over Penn State. Pearce led off with a 9.750, followed by an escalating 9.800 for Bruck and a 9.825 for Curtis. Lieberman, the 2005 and 2006 vault champion, had one final crack at a Big Ten individual title and did not disappoint, scoring a 9.900. Thuener-Rego followed with a 9.800. That set up sensational freshman Botterman for another of her specialties, and she came through with a 9.900 to equal Lieberman and give U-M a resounding score.

In the last rotation with a Big Ten title in their grasp, Michigan took to the bars with the next-best challenger, Penn State, on the vault. Bruck led off with an excellent 9.850 routine to give her a solid 39.325 all-around total, while sophomore Maureen Moody (East Lansing, Mich./East Lansing), coming off five weeks out of the Wolverine lineup, matched with her own 9.850. Curtis raised the roof with a 9.950 to equal her career best and give her 39.450 in the all-around, while Thuener-Rego went for broke with a career-best 9.925. Botterman closed the rotation with a 9.850, sealing the win for the Wolverines.

Michigan will await the end of the regular season to learn its final ranking and where it will be sent for the NCAA Regionals, which will take place Saturday (April 12) with times to be determined. The six programs hosting an NCAA Regional in 2008 are Minnesota, Penn State, Oklahoma, Florida, Louisiana State and Oregon State. The top 36 teams in the nation will earn spots in an NCAA Regional, with the top 18 teams being seeded in serpentine order. The remaining 18 teams will be added to each regional based on geography.

Team Standings

Team Scores Vault Bars Beam Floor Total

1. MICHIGAN 49.225 49.425 49.050 49.050 196.750

2. Illinois 49.100 48.825 49.050 48.775 195.750

3. Penn State 48.900 49.000 48.900 48.825 195.625

4. Michigan State 48.625 49.000 48.575 48.850 195.050

5. Iowa 48.125 49.000 48.975 48.675 194.775

6. Minnesota 48.700 48.825 48.225 48.675 194.425

7. Ohio State 48.675 48.400 47.925 49.075 194.075

Event-By-Event U-M Individual Scores


Kari Pearce 9.750

Lindsey Bruck 9.800

Sarah Curtis 9.825

Katie Lieberman 9.900 (t2)

Tatjana Thuener-Rego 9.800

Kylee Botterman 9.900 (t2)


Lindsey Bruck 9.850

Maureen Moody 9.850

Sarah Curtis 9.950 (1)

Tatjana Thuener-Rego 9.925 (2)

Becky Bernard 9.850

Kylee Botterman 9.850


Huneth Lor 9.800

Megan Moore 9.775

Sarah Curtis 9.850 (t5)

Kelsey Knutson 9.750

Becky Bernard 9.550

Lindsey Bruck 9.875 (t2)


Kari Pearce 9.700

Nellie Kippley 9.650

Sarah Curtis 9.825

Lindsey Bruck 9.800

Katie Lieberman 9.825

Kylee Botterman 9.900 (t1)


Sarah Curtis 39.450 (2)

Lindsey Bruck 39.325 (3)

( ) denotes place in the Top 5

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