Football fans tend to think in terms of Auburn as the most hated rival, in gymnastics it is safe to say that honor belongs to the Georgia Bulldogs who have the most decorated history of any women’s team in NCAA gymnastics history. Buckle up, indeed.
Alabama Who to Watch
The Tide comes into Athens ranked sixth nationally this week behind Oklahoma, LSU, Florida, Utah, and UCLA. Denver checks in at 7 followed by number 8 Georgia. Hopefully star Kiana Winston will be back after being held out for last week’s meet with Boise State. Winston is ranked eighth nationally in the all-around, 6th on floor. Alabama’s line-up includes Nickie Guerrero, ranked fourth nationally on beam, Aja Sims who is 10th on floor, and freshman Maddie Desch who is coming on strong of late. Sophomore Ari Guerra seems to have earned a spot in Bama’s tough-to-break-into floor rotation. To maintain position in the rankings or move up Alabama needs to get a score higher than last week when the team failed to break the critical point total of 197.
Bulldogs Get Back Some Bite
The GymDogs are paced by Sydney Snead on vault, Ashlyn Broussard on beam, and GiGi Marino on floor. Although none of these athletes are ranked in the top ten individually, the Bulldogs have upped their game and their level of difficulty in recent weeks. Snead is recovered from a back injury and Marino has scored a 9.95 on floor the last three meets. To keep pace with other teams, the Bulldogs need to top 197 points which they have not done yet this year.
Georgia has won an NCAA best 10 National Championships. Alabama has won 6. All those titles came under legendary coaches Suzanne Yoculan and Sarah Patterson. Both began coaching in 1983 and went head to head for 25 years. The heated rivalry between the two spawned an ESPN SEC Storied documentary Sarah & Suzanne, and then a funny but profane NSFW mock-up review. Now Sarah & Suzanne are retired, replaced by Dana & Danna. Georgia’s Danna Durante is in her fifth year, Alabama’s Dana Duckworth is in her third. Both ladies would love to claim their gymnasts are best in this fierce interstate battle.
Super Sunday in SEC
Neither Alabama nor Georgia has a chance to win the first ever SEC regular season title; that new-this-season championship will be decided in Baton Rouge when #3 Florida takes on #2 LSU at the conclusion of Alabama-Georgia. Florida-LSU will be one of the most competitive clashes of the 2017 season in NCAA women’s gymnastics.
Alabama will have a chance to win the SEC championships meet on March 18th in Jacksonville, Florida, if everything clicks, AND if LSU, in particular stumbles. Despite a recent loss to #1 ranked Oklahoma, LSU has a dynamic team with high risk high reward routines.
Tune in Super Sunday, March 5:
Tide-Dawgs 1 p.m. CT SEC Network and espn3.com
Florida-LSU 2:30 p.m. CT SEC Network