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    SEC “Five Questions”: Georgia’s Jay Clark

    By: Sean Cartell
    Twitter: @SEC_Sean
    SEC Digital Network

    DULUTH, Ga. – No. 5 Georgia enters this weekend’s Southeastern Conference gymnastics championships at The Arena at Gwinnett Center looking for its 17th all-time league title, which is more than all the other teams combined. The Gym Dogs will be looking for their first SEC title since 2008, the last time the championship was held in Duluth.

    Head Coach Jay Clark is in his third season as Georgia’s head coach and sat down with the SEC Digital Network on Friday to discuss his team and the upcoming SEC Championships.

    SEC Digital Network: What is your overall outlook on your team for the upcoming SEC Championships?

    Jay Clark: “We feel good. We’re a pretty confident bunch. We’ve had a pretty consistent year; I don’t think we’ve had the major spikes in terms of our scores the way some of the other teams here have, but we feel like if we put a meet together, we can compete with anybody. It just comes down to who executes the best on that day. The margin between the top teams is just not that much and so it comes down to who executes and our kids understand that.”

    SEC Digital Network: With all seven SEC teams in the top-25 and five in the top-10, how difficult is this meet?

    Jay Clark: “It’s tough, but it’s also a blessing because theoretically if we all qualified for the NCAA Championships then we’ve all been tried by fire by competing against each other in the regular season and then getting in this atmosphere and doing it on podium. It prepares our teams very well. I don’t look at it as a tough thing. It’s going to be a lot of fun and it’s going to be exciting in here. Hopefully our kids will do what they’ve been doing and stay right in the middle of it.”

    SEC Digital Network: How does a meet like this help prepare your team for the NCAA Regionals and the NCAA Championships?

    Jay Clark: “It’s tremendous. I don’t think there’s any way to better prepare than what we’re doing in here, competing on podium and getting ready for the national championships is the only way to do it. We’ve got the draw and there’s so many things that we do to prepare for postseason. The SEC does a fantastic job and, in many ways, this is the marquee event of our sport, even more so in some ways than the national championships because of the fanfare and the passion that is behind it, and the rivalries that exist. It really, in my mind, is the marquee event in college gymnastics.”

    SEC Digital Network: Are there any particular performers on your team that you’re expecting to step up for you this weekend?

    Jay Clark: “We’ve been a team all year long that is full of kids who are 9.85-ers across the board. We haven’t had that bona fide superstar, although Kat Ding and Noel [Couch] have done a great job in the all-around for us this year. We haven’t had one of those kids that just jumps off the page at you, so I think we’re a steady team. We’re solid from top to bottom and I think it could come from anywhere. I don’t really know how to single out any one person; we know that we’ve got to pick each other up. If one person has a little bit less of a performance, the next person has got to pick it up. Our kids have been doing it all year long.”

    SEC Digital Network: What is your team going to have to be able to do to win this weekend?

    Jay Clark: “We’ve got to execute. We can’t worry about anything other than going out and executing to the best of our ability. There is no strategy beyond that. There is no defense or anything. If we go out there and execute to the best of our ability, we’ll be sitting on a bye on the last rotation and maybe we will have done enough to have put a little pressure on some of these teams.”