Gymnastics Notes: Georgia keeps 'big four' winning streak alive
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Another NCAA gymnastics championships passed Friday with a familiar team on top of the podium.
Since the NCAA sanctioned gymnastics in 1982, only Georgia, Alabama, Utah and UCLA have won national titles. They're often simply referred to as "the big four."
Every year coaches talk about the increased parity in their sport, so when is it going to translate into a new champion? It didn't happen Friday, but it will, and soon, many coaches believe.
As unbeatable as Georgia was throughout the season, the Gym Dogs still had to come from behind to do so, overtaking Alabama in the final two rotations to score a 197.75. Utah was second with a 196.8 and Alabama was third with a 196.725, followed by Florida (196.275), Nebraska (196.175) and Iowa State (194.725).
With back-to-back national titles and an undefeated record, the word "dynasty," might be passed around to describe Georgia, but Gym Dogs coach Suzanne Yoculan doesn't see it that way. As good as Georgia was, it took a great meet from it, not average, to win.
"It wasn't a domination, and you can't have a dynasty without domination," she said. "There are too many teams gunning for us and too many improving programs."
Yoculan said she felt a different level of tension during warm-ups among the coaches and teams. The chit chat and laughter was replaced by seriousness.
"I've never been in a warm-up that intense before," she said. "None of the teams but the big four have won, but you can feel it coming," she said. "It felt like a sneak attack and I was sitting there wondering what other teams were hiding."
One of the those teams could be Iowa State. ISU made it into the Super Six for the first time and opened with three falls on the vault. Those mistakes took it out of the running for the team title, but just the experience of being a part of the Super Six is invaluable, coaches said.
"They are definitely a team on the rise," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "They are very well-coached and are a lot like Nebraska in some ways, they don't get recruits with the credentials like Ashley Postell, but they get good recruits and do an incredible job of making them better."
Couldn't bear to watch
Marsden has a habit of disappearing into the tunnels when his team competes on the beam. But even being that close was too much for him to handle during the NCAAs, and he waited outside the arena.
Utah manager Cameron Linford kept him informed of the Utes' fate via walkie-talkies.
"At Michigan, I broke my tradition and watched and we didn't do so well," he said of the regional competition when Utah had two falls. "I guess I'll see the routines when I put our videos together."
Mark the calendar
Utah hosts the 2007 NCAA Championships, April 26-28. The last time the NCAAs were in Salt Lake was in 1999 and it will mark the ninth time Utah has hosted nationals.
Utah already has taken more than 2,000 ticket orders for the championships and as of May 1, fans can go online and select their seats when they purchase tickets.
A diagram of the floor and what event is where will be set up, but Marsden said it will be the same setup for Utah's regular season meets.
Yoculan was named the coach of the year during the banquet on Saturday and her associate coach Jay Clark was named the assistant of the year. North Carolina's Courtney Bumpers was named the student-athlete of the year.
Is this soccer?
There were few judging complaints made during the team competitions, unusual considering the new code caused so many inconsistencies during the regular season. The only obvious complaint came from an Oklahoma assistant who was given a yellow card during Thursday's preliminary competition. A red card would have led to deductions for the team score.