University of Oklahoma vice president for intercollegiate athletic programs and athletic director Joe Castiglione and head women's gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler announced Oklahoma's 2014 competition schedule Tuesday morning.
"This is the strongest schedule Oklahoma has ever put together in the regular season," Kindler said. "We are competing against the best of the best in the NCAA."
Kindler will have plenty of talented options to choose from in a 2014 squad that returns 21 of 24 routines from last season's NCAA runner-up lineup. OU's performance in 2013 marked its third top-three NCAA finish in four years and the program's 13th NCAA appearance overall.
OU's 2014 slate is an impressive one, featuring four teams that competed in the 2013 NCAA Super Six team finals alongside the Sooners and a total of eight teams that qualified for the 2013 NCAA Championships. In total, Oklahoma will face seven teams that finished in the top 10 nationally last season and 11 that finished in the top 25.
The Sooners open the season against 2013 Super Six competitor Georgia at the Lloyd Noble Center on Friday, Jan. 10. OU opened last season against the Bulldogs on the road, topping UGA by a mark of 196.450-195.425.
In what is sure to be an electrifying early season matchup, Oklahoma is set to face 2013 NCAA Champion Florida on Friday, Jan. 31 in Gainesville, Fla. The two teams have not met during the regular season since 2010, when OU opened their campaign with a 196.250-195.275 victory over the Gators. Florida returns a pair of national champions this season from the squad that also won the SEC Championship.
The Sooners host their annual Alumni Weekend in conjunction with their Sunday, Feb. 9 meet against 2013 Super Six qualifier LSU. OU will meet the Tigers again the following weekend when the two teams clash at the Metroplex Challenge on Feb. 15 in Fort Worth, Texas. Arizona and Kentucky are also slated to appear at the event.
Oklahoma will face its final Super Six competitor of the regular season in Alabama at the Perfect 10 Challenge on Friday, Feb. 21 in Oklahoma City, Okla., at the Cox Convention Center. The meet will also bring the Sooners head-to-head with 2013 NCAA qualifier Michigan and Big 12 foe West Virginia.
OU hosts a total of five true home meets this season, boasting additional matchups with conference rival Iowa State on Friday, Feb. 10, 2013 NCAA qualifier Illinois on Friday, Feb. 28 and Arizona State on Friday, March 7. The contest against ASU will serve as the Sooners' Senior Night, honoring the impressive careers of five OU seniors.
Headlining Oklahoma's additional road matchups this season is a Sunday, March 9 quad meet with Minnesota, TWU and Utah State. A 2013 NCAA qualifier, Minnesota was also the NCAA Gainesville Regional runner-up last season. OU ends the season at Arkansas on Friday, March 14, facing a Razorback team that qualified for the 2013 NCAA Championships and returns a six-time All-American to its ranks. Oklahoma will travel to face Arizona in Tucson on Saturday, Jan. 25, as well.
West Virginia is set to host the 2014 Big 12 Championships on Saturday, March 22. OU will vie for its third consecutive conference title this season and the program's 12th overall. The Sooners have captured five Big 12 titles since 2008 under Kindler's leadership.
"From our season-opening meet against the University of Georgia through the Big 12 Championship, our team will need to be on its game, week-in and week-out with no breaks," Kindler said.
NCAA Regional competition is slated for April 5, with hosting sites set for Minneapolis, Minn., Athens, Ga., Fayetteville, Ark., Baton Rouge, La., State College, Penn., and Seattle, Wash.
The 2014 NCAA Championships will be held on April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala., at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex.