Athens, GA - Freshman Lindsey Cheek competed in the all-around for the first time in her career and tied the highest score in the country to date, logging a 39.550 through four events to help the No. 5 Georgia gymnastics team to a 196.650-194.975 win over SEC rival Auburn Friday night in Stegeman Coliseum. It was the second straight score of 196 or above for Georgia, which now owns the Nos. 2 and 3 scores in the country in 2011.
Cheek tonight became the fourth gymnast in the country to score a 39.550 on the all-around this season. She posted career-highs on all four routines include 9.9s or above on vault and bars, and claimed three event titles in addition to all-around.
The Gym Dogs saw seven 9.9s on the night.
The meet was Georgia’s SEC opener as the Gym Dogs improve to 5-1 (1-0), finishing up a grueling stretch of three meets in the last seven days. The Tigers fall to 1-2 (1-1). The series record continues to tip in Georgia’s favor, now at a mark of 66-1 including an undefeated record at home vs. Auburn.
“Tonight was unbelievable. It felt great,” Cheek said. “It’s just what I needed and it was great to compete the all-around. The crowd was unbelievable, and I love being out there. They give me so much adrenaline and pump me up for every routine I do.”
“She’s surprising even me to some degree,” added head coach Jay Clark. “We knew we were getting a competitor, and I knew when we got her she was going to be a star at some point. I didn’t know we were going to have to throw her into the wolves right out the gates this way. She’s done an incredible job of not only hitting but improving her gymnastics with what little bit of training we’ve done, and it’s getting a little better all the time. She’s getting cleaner. She’s a competitor, and I’m just glad she’s on our team. Tonight she really stepped up.”
Georgia’s night opened on vault, where both Cheek and senior Hilary Mauro posted career-high scores of 9.950 to lead the way. Mariel Box set her lifetime best with a 9.800 and the Gym Dogs finished with a season-high 49.375 on vault while Auburn opened with a 48.950 on the uneven bars to put Georgia up through one.
On bars, the Gym Dogs got matching 9.925s from Kat Ding and Cheek, while freshman Cat Hires logged her career-best score of 9.825 to pace UGA to a 48.800 on its second event. Cheek’s performance was her first bars routine in collegiate competition. The Tigers got a 48.575 on vault as Georgia built its lead to a 98.175-97.525 at the halfway point.
Next was beam, where Georgia was led by Cheek’s 9.850 and fellow freshman Laura Moffatt made her Georgia debut and came through with a 9.800. Georgia scored a 49.050 on the event and AU logged a 48.900 on floor as the Gym Dogs took a 147.225-146.425 lead through three.
Finally the Gym Dogs headed to floor, where they saw three 9.9s including a career-high 9.950 from the reigning SEC Gymnast of the Week Cassidy McComb. Box also increased her career-best mark to 9.925 and sophomore Noel Couch added a 9.900 to help the Gym Dogs to a 49.425 on their final event of the evening – their best score on floor this season. Auburn concluded with a 48.550 on beam and Georgia’s night wrapped up with the 196.650-194.975 decision.
Georgia’s last two meet scores – tonight’s 196.650 and the 196.725 vs. West Virginia Monday – trail only Florida, which has scored a 196.850 and Stanford (196.625) stands fourth nationally with the only other 196 or above of 2011.
Georgia swept the event titles with Cheek and Mauro taking vault, Cheek and Ding taking bars, Cheek tying the Tigers’ Rachel Inniss for beam, and McComb taking floor. Cheek’s all-around win gave the rookie her fourth title of the evening.
“Tonight our Georgia kids like Mariel Box, Laura Moffatt and Lindsey Cheek sort of carried the day,” Clark said. “I don’t know when we’ve had three kids from our home state be the catalyst for us on a given night, and that’s good to see.”
Tonight’s meet will be aired on ESPNU on Jan. 27 at 2:30 p.m.
Next up the Gym Dogs will hit the road to take on Kentucky next Fri., Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.
1. Georgia – 196.650
2. Auburn – 194.975
Georgia Individual Results
Vault (49.375): Cat Hires – 9.750; Noel Couch – 9.850; Mariel Box – 9.800; Cassidy McComb – 9.825; Lindsey Cheek – 9.950; Hilary Mauro – 9.950
Bars (48.800): Christa Tanella – 9.800; Noel Couch – 9.250; Cat Hires - 9.825; Cassidy McComb – 9.325; Kat Ding – 9.925; Lindsey Cheek – 9.925
Beam (49.050): Noel Couch – 9.800; Lindsey Cheek – 9.850; Christa Tanella – 9.775; Hilary Mauro – 9.825; Cassidy McComb – 9.350; Laura Moffatt – 9.800
Floor (49.425): Lindsey Cheek – 9.825; Christa Tanella – 9.825; Noel Couch – 9.900; Mariel Box – 9.925; Cassidy McComb – 9.950