UGA report: Gym dogs head for NCAA regional

ATHENS – The way Cassidy McComb sees it, the gymnastics team is right where it needs to be heading into Saturday's NCAA Regional at Columbia, Mo.

Georgia's five-time defending national champions are ranked fifth with a regional qualifying score of 196.895 and need to win or finish second to advance to their 27th consecutive NCAA Championships on April 22-24 in Gainesville, Fla.

“We’ve got our minds straight,” said McComb, an all-arounder. “It was frustrating to start out the way we did, but we knew we had nowhere to go but up. It’s been nice to see the progression. We know what we’re capable of and we’re confident that we’re going to put it together now and come out on top.”

Georgia lost three of its first four meets, but then won five of seven, including posting a 197.90 in a victory over UCLA on March 6. The Bulldogs were third at the SEC championship on March 27.

Still, first-year coach Jay Clark is waiting for what he calls a "complete meet."

“Even the UCLA meet wasn’t complete,” he said. “We didn’t count any falls [against UCLA], but we didn’t put it all together. I like where we’re at and we need to qualify well, with a full head of steam. We need all the confidence we can have heading [into the NCAA championships].”

Clark said Shayla Worley might return from a sprained ankle to compete on bars and beam and Marcia Newby (shin) might be able to go on vault.

“We know what we’ve been working for and that’s the NCAAs,” McComb said. “We can’t erase what’s happened, but the regionals give us a fresh start. We know what we’re capable of and that’s winning.”

Women’s tennis

Yvette Hyndman and her 14th-ranked teammates are determined to finish strong after last Sunday's loss at Ole Miss. They host fourth-ranked Florida at 1 p.m. Sunday and No. 16 Tennessee on April 17 before hosting the SEC tournament, which starts April 22.

“It’s always really exciting to play Florida, especially at home, because they’re a huge rivalry for us,” Hyndman said. “And they’re ranked in the top 10, so it would be amazing to get a win over them.”

Hyndman has been battling a strained back, just the latest injury for the Bulldogs, who had only four players at practice earlier this week.

"We've had sprained ankles, calf issues, shoulder issues," coach Jeff Wallace said. "We've just had a slew of things. It's just been kind of one of those years where we haven't had a full lineup with six people healthy all year."

Softball

Alisa Goler became the third Georgia player with 100 career walks when she drew two bases on balls in Wednesday's 5-4 victory at Georgia Tech. She had 101 walks entering the weekend series at Ole Miss. Taylor Schlopy enters the weekend with 97 career walks. ... Megan Wiggins leads the Bulldogs with a seven-game hitting streak. She had a career-best 10-game streak in 2008.

Men’s golf

Russell Henley will know on April 14 if he is one of the three finalists for the Ben Hogan Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate golfer. The winner will be honored at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 11. Henley and his teammates are gearing up for the SEC Championships, which will be played at St. Simons Island on April 16-18.

Men’s tennis

Winder's Drake Bernstein entered this weekend with a 27-10 singles mark as the eighth-ranked Bulldogs looked to continue their dominance over SEC opponents. Georgia had won 53 of its past 55 SEC matches heading into matches at South Carolina and Florida. The Bulldogs have won an SEC-best 26 regular-season league championship

Track and field

Spec Towns Track, which recently underwent a $3-million renovation, is hosting the Spec Towns National Team Invitational this weekend. The improvements include a new track surface, additional pole vault pits and more viewing areas. South Carolina, Auburn, Purdue, Nebraska, Wake Forest, Connecticut and East Carolina are participating in the meet. Saturday’s events begin at 10 a.m.