Gym Dogs send longtime coach out with her 10th title

Morris News Service
Georgia gymnasts celebrate after teammate Tiffany Tolnay, foreground center, completed her vault in the team finals of the NCAA gymnastics championships.

LINCOLN, Neb. --- It was a fairy tale ending for a coach who took a chance more than a quarter of a century ago.

Suzanne Yoculan finished the final chapter of her storied career at Georgia with a record-setting 10th NCAA championship.

The veteran coach ran alongside the vaulting runway in her gold stiletto heels after senior Tiffany Tolnay nailed a vault. She jumped into the arms of her Gym Dogs, winners of five consecutive national titles, for the final time.

Associate head coach Jay Clark, who will take over the program next season, lifted Yoculan off the floor with a bear hug.

"We wouldn't have won this championship without our fifth senior," said senior Abby Stack of Yoculan. "She provided the leadership for us to win."

Top-ranked Georgia secured the victory with a 197.825 score after a season-high vaulting performance at Bob Devaney Sports Center on Friday night. Alabama was second with a 197.575, and Utah was third with a 197.425.

Georgia's vaulting was highlighted with a 10 from six-time NCAA champion Courtney Kupets, who won the all-around title Thursday night. It was the senior's second perfect score of the night.

"Talk about mental strength," Yoculan said of Kupets, who she called "probably the best collegiate gymnast ever."

Georgia trailed Alabama midway through the meet by .125, prompting a final speech from Yoculan.

"That's not good enough," she told her gymnasts.

"You guys are holding back. What is the matter with you? You're competing like you're afraid. Trust yourself to know what to do."

The seniors took charge after that.

Reach Jennifer Iannone at jennifer.iannone@onlineathens.com.

GOING 5-FOR-5

With its 10th NCAA gymnastics championship, Georgia became the first team to win five titles in a row.

Title year Score
2009197.825
2008197.450
2007197.850
2006197.750
2005197.825

The rest of the super six

2. Alabama197.575
3. Utah197.425
4. Florida196.725
5. Arkansas196.475
6. LSU196.375

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