Tiffany Tolnay, Gym Dog in the shadows

Courtney Kupets is the darling of the Georgia Gym Dogs -- and deservedly so.At the 2006 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Corvallis, Ore., Courtney Kupets won almost everything in sight.

She was literally everywhere, competing on every event for three consecutive days, hitting solidly and more often than not winning with whatever high score she put up.

The most impressive of those performances seemed to come during event finals on the third and final day of competition. On the balance beam, Kupets gave a performance that, had it been done during the all-around finals at the Athens Olympics, might have put her in the top three.

Back handspring to two layout stepouts. Perfect. Punch front. Floated. Switch leap, gainer layout. Not a wobble within a mile of the arena. Two back handsprings to a stuck double back. She’s going to get a 10, I thought.

Kupets didn’t quite get the 10, but she did win the title. Which she also did in the all-around and on bars, tying Utah’s Kristina Baskett.

Georgia's Tiffany Tolnay.Another Georgia freshman was in that group on balance beam in event finals — Texan Tiffany Tolnay, who, coached by Kim Zmeskal an Zmeskal’s husband Chris Burdette, had won the Level 10 National all-around title three years in a row.

Tolnay’s beam routine in Oregon in 2006 looked as impressive as Kupets’; in fact, she used many of the same skills: the flight series, the punch front, the dismount. No wobbles from her, either.

Like Kupets, Tolnay has extremely clean lines and both seem to have the same measured, athletic way of moving that seems both fluid and staccato at the same time.

It seemed the only reason Tolnay, who was fourth in the beam final in 2006 didn’t get a comparable score to Kupets was because she went up first. Since then, she’s continued to put up high numbers for the Gym Dogs, finishing fourth  in the all-around at the 2007 NCAA Championships, just as she did in 2006.

But she’s remained somewhat in the shadows, perhaps becuase if you’re an excellent gymnast and you’re a Gym Dog, you’re in very good company. Kupets is one of the best ever to compete in the NCAA. In addition, South Carolinian Grace Taylor’s charm and clean gymnastics got a huge response during her freshman year. Katie Heenan and Kelsey Ericksen were the rocks, the upperclassmen leaders. Courtney McCool gave the Gym Dogs another Olympian, and more to intimidate with.

By comparison, Tolnay, decidedly second to Kupets but whose performances have often equaled or bettered her more famous teammates, has always seemed in the distance. I wonder why.

Tiffany Tolnay, 2008 Georgia Sneak Peek, Balance Beam:

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One Response to “Tiffany Tolnay, Gym Dog in the shadows”

  1. Gymnastics Coaching Says:

    […] Tiffany Tolnay, Gym Dog in the shadows […]

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