Posts Tagged ‘Grace Taylor’

NCAA previews on

November 23, 2008

…including Courtney Kupets’ new floor exercise.

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Gymnastike editor Anne Phillips spent some time with the Gym Dogs a few weeks ago and captured a lot of practice and intrasquad footage. Floor routines include a showy new piece from sophomore Cassidy McComb, Grace Taylor’s new number to a spanish guitar and a “Bad to the Bone” Tiffany Tolnay.

NCAA Gymnastics Championships: Game on

April 24, 2008

Ashley PostellOne of the biggest questions about the 2008 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, which begins today in Athens, Ga., is whether Ashley Postell will finally get the NCAA all-around crown many think she richly deserves.

Postell has been Utah’s beacon — and one of the big names in collegiate gymnastics — for the past four years. But she’s always been eclipsed (twice by friend and former teammate Courtney Kupets) for the NCAA all-around title.


Tiffany Tolnay, Gym Dog in the shadows

January 31, 2008

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:

Georgia beats Florida — by a very narrow margin

January 19, 2008

Florida junior Corey HartungNo. 1 Florida came this close to upsetting no. 2 Georgia at home Friday night.

More than 10,000 turned out to see the Gators duel the Gym Dogs in the hottest matchup in college gymnastics right now. But once again, Georgia came out on top, 196.850 t0 195.825. It doesn’t really get any smaller than that.

Both teams had a number of unaccustomed mistakes. Florida counted a fall for the first time in 28 meets, that mistake coming on the uneven bars. Georgia’s Grace Taylor and Courtney McCool both fell from the balance beam during the final rotation.

Florida star Corey Hartung won the all-around with a 39.7, the fifth-highest score in school history. Courtney Kupets was second with a 39.65, and Georgia junior Tiffany Tolnay was third with a 39.525.

Further reading: Georgia’s press release, Florida’s press release

Depth, Georgia and the Red Rocks

January 18, 2008

Let the NCAA mudslinging begin.

From the Daily Utah Chronicle:

Following the Utah gymnastics team’s narrow win over No. 1 Georgia last week, Gym Dog head coach Suzanne Yoculan questioned whether the Red Rocks have the depth to be one of the best teams in the nation.

“I thought that their depth was a little weaker than ours,” Yoculan said. “Obviously Ashley (Postell) and some of the strongest girls looked really strong. The thing is, there’s a lot of teams in the country that have a one-two punch. It’s going to come down to that fourth or fifth score at the end of the season.”

Utah junior Kristina Baskett is likely to sit out tonight's competition against NebraskaThat’s interesting coming from Yoculan, whose Gym Dogs currently aren’t at full strength either. And while the Utes take on rival Nebraska tonight without star Kristina Baskett, who has is suffering from displaced ribs, Georgia has traveled to Florida and will take on the newly No. 1-ranked Gators. Florida posted the highest score of the season so far with its 197.125 last week against Illinois-Chicago.

Yoculan has said she expects Grace Taylor, recovered from her sprained ankle, to be back in the lineup, but others are still injured. Georgia might have taken a little hit to its depth as well.

Florida sophomore Melanie SinclairAnd if Utah had no mercy at home, Florida likely won’t either. The Gators, despite being no. 1 right now, are the least appreciated gymnastics team in the nation. Their top three — sophomores Melanie Sinclair and Amanda Castillo (who was third in the all-around at the 2007 NCAA championships behind better-known names Courtney Kupets and Postell) and junior Corey Hartung are an unstoppable force when they hit.

Rebounding Georgia bests no. 5 Stanford

January 15, 2008

Georgia junior Courtney Kupets, via day, another top-five ranked team, and the Georgia Gym Dogs look back on track.

That’s the general consensus after Georgia defeated no. 5 Stanford in Palo Alto Jan. 13, 196.875-196.150. But it was the Cardinal that had the high team score on vault (49.275) and beam (49.15), while Georgia was tops on bars (49.225) and floor (49.3).

Georgia junior Courtney Kupets, who had some rare mistakes during Georgia’s season-opener at Utah Friday night, appeared more her usual self, winning the all-around with a 39.550. Georgia’s Tiffany Tolnay and Stanford’s Nicole Ourada tied for second with 39.3.

2004 Olympic hopeful-turned-Stanford Cardinal Allyse Ishino.Stanford sophomore Carly Janiga was best on beam with a 9.9. Grace Taylor won bars with a 9.9, Kupets took vault with a 9.925 and she, 2004 Olympic teammate Courtney McCool and Georgia newcomer Cassidy McComb shared top honors on floor, each with a 9.9.

Redshirt freshman Allyse Ishino, who was sidelined with blood clots in the lungs while training in 2006 made an impressive debut for the Cardinal, scoring a 9.875 on vault and a 9.9 on bars. Stanford senior Tabitha Yim, who has been the backbone of the team since 2005, only competed floor exercise (9.775.)

A sneek peek at Georgia

January 14, 2008

YouTube user Allegria78 has linked a whole bunch of videos from Georgia’s Sneek Peek exhibition Jan. 5. Goodies include Courtney Kupets’ beam routine with a new mount sequence and Grace Taylor apparently attempting to set a school record for number of Comanecis in a row on bars.

Georgia opens 2008 campaign with loss to Utah

January 13, 2008

The top-ranked Georgia Gym Dogs lost their season-opener to third-ranked Utah at the University of Utah Friday night.

Georgia's Grace TaylorBut not by much. The final score was 196.3-196.2, Utah was at home, and Georgia was mostly without sophomore Grace Taylor, who competed uneven bars only, and senior Megan Dowlen. It’s likely that those two, particularly Taylor, would have made the difference in the meet.

Utah senior Ashley Postell, who clinched Utah’s win during her floor exercise in the final rotation (9.9), won the all-around, balance beam and floor. Ute standout Kristina Baskett was second and Georgia junior Tiffany Tolnay third, leaving Olympic silver and bronze medalist Courtney Kupets fourth.


No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 3 Utah — tonight!

January 11, 2008

Utah's Ashley Postell

For all the talk in gymnastics about competing against yourself and just doing your best, it’s refreshing to see an article like Lya Wodraska’s in this morning’s Salt Lake Tribune shooting all of that to hell.

College gymnastics is about scores, not settling scores. It’s about getting to nationals, not getting the best of your opponent, about concentrating on the best you can do, not what your opponent is doing.

Then there are meets between the University of Utah and the University of Georgia, where conventional wisdom is ignored, emotions run high and success is judged by showing up one another, great score be damned.

“If you gave me an option of getting a 197 and losing or a 194 and winning, I’d take the win in a heartbeat,” Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan said. “I’m not about vanilla and fluff, I want the win.”

And so do the Utes, who are willing to agree with their biggest rival in philosophy, if only for a night.

“I get her point and I couldn’t agree more,” said Utah coach Greg Marsden, who sported an “I hate the SEC” T-shirt at practice Thursday.

Despite pre-season rankings, the Gym Dogs and the Utes are more or less 1-2 in the nation in a lot of people’s minds, making both teams’ season-opener one of the more interesting meets of the season.

Advantage on this one probably goes to Utah, who are a) at home and b) not as injury-plauged as Georgia, who will be competing without sophomore Grace Taylor, senior Megan Dowlen and junior Tiffany Tolnay. Taylor and Dowlen have sprained ankles and Tolnay is sick, according to a UGA press release.

The Georgia Gym Dogs are hungrily eyeing the Utah Utes.Never count Georgia out, however. The Gym Dogs certainly have the depth to get it done. Junior Courtney Kupets is training some of the hardest stuff in the NCAA, and she’ll be backed up by a more or less healthy Katie Heenan and sophomore Olympian Courtney McCool.

Utah, meanwhile, will compete big guns Ashley Postell and Kristina Baskett and likely also expects huge performances from Annie DeLuzio and Katie Kivisto.

Georgia gym news

October 18, 2007

Suzanne Yoculan, who nursed the Georgia Gymdog program from puppyhood to maturity during the past quarter century, will retire after the 2008-09 season, the University of Georgia announced today. Georgia alum Jay Clark, Yoculan’s assistant coach since 1990, will take over the program.

Yoculan is leaving behind a legacy most coaches can only dream of. In 24 years, Yoculan’s team has finished no lower than 9th at the NCAA Championships. In the past decade, Georgia’s never been off the podium at Nationals. If ever there has been a gymnastics dynasty, this is it.

Longtime Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan celebrates another win with the Gymdogs.

Nor does it appear things will change anytime soon. Part of Yoculan’s success has been her ability to attract top athletes to her program.

Among the classes Clark is credited with recruiting are the classes of 1998 and 1999, which consisted of All-Americans Kim Arnold, Julie Ballard, Jenni Beathard, Karin Lichey, Sam Muhleman and Canadian National Team member Stacey Galloway. Those two recruiting classes are regarded as the “two best recruiting classes ever in the history of Georgia gymnastics and possibly in all of collegiate gymnastics” by Yoculan.

Arnold, Beathard, Lichey and Muhleman were former U.S. National Team members. Also due in large part to his efforts, Georgia signed the No. 1 recruits in 1993 (Leslie Angeles), 1994 (Arnold) and 1995 (Amanda Borden). The Gym Dogs’ roster currently includes two former Olympic medalists in Kupets and sophomore Courtney McCool.

Gymnasts who have been among the lower echelon of the elite ranks have typically done well in college programs, and Georgia has been no exception. Cases in point: Arnold, who won the NCAA all-around in 1997 and 1998, and Lichey, who won the Honda Award for women’s gymnastics in 1999. Following the tradition, South Carolinian Grace Taylor wowed the Gymdogs as a freshman last year, placing second on balance beam at the NCAA Championships.

Grace Taylor at the 2004 Friendship Classic:

And at the 2007 NCAA Championships on balance beam:

Georgia freshman Hilary Mauro

This year, former national team member Hilary Mauro, who at 4’7″ has the distinction of being the smallest gymnast ever to join the Georgia team, will make her collegiate debut. She is one of only two freshman on Georgia’s team — the other is Cassidy McComb, who trained at Gymcats in Las Vegas under coach Cassie Rice.

Mauro, who was 16th at the 2006 U.S. Championships, has already been impressive at practice, training a double pike off beam, a running double front and a whip double pike on floor and a one and a half twisting Yurchenko vault, Yoculan said in an internet video release. She has been writing a weekly column, titled Hilary’s Highlights, since September.

Hilary Mauro, 2006 Ghent World Cup Event Finals, Balance Beam:

According to the Athens, Ga. Banner-Herald, the announcement of Yoculan’s impending retirement elicited an emotional reaction from the Gymdogs.

Tears were shed when Yoculan told her team on Monday about her retirement plans. Recruits that have committed to Georgia and will sign in November were informed last week.

“It was kind of a shock; we weren’t ready for it,” Taylor said. “It’s all good emotion. I think they definitely put a lot of thought and planning into making sure that when Suzanne retired that it was the best time possible. We were all happy for her. Everyone wants to decide when they retire, and it’s a long way off, too.”

(via Gymnastics Coaching)