NORMAN - Head coach K.J. Kindler and the Oklahoma gymnastics program announced this week that sophomore Brenna Dowell will defer for a year to pursue a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team for the World Championships.
"We know that this was a very difficult decision for Brenna, but at the end of the day it came down to chasing that dream," Kindler said. "We want Brenna to have no regrets and that means pursuing this opportunity to compete for the United States at the highest level in this Olympic year."
"We will be cheering loud for (Brenna) from Norman and will look forward to her return to Oklahoma."
"This decision was the toughest choice I have ever made," Dowell said. "My family and I prayed about it a lot, and I just felt like I had some unfinished business in the elite world. I am very thankful that I have this opportunity ahead of me. I am incredibly blessed to have the support of my OU coaches and teammates."
Dowell plans to defer after a dynamic freshman season for Oklahoma in 2015. The Odessa, Mo., native was the 2015 NCAA runner-up on floor exercise and the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. She was also a first-team All-American on floor and uneven bars and an event finalist on both events.
Dowell captured eight event titles during the season and was the Big 12 individual champion on floor. She posted a perfect 10.0 on the uneven bars in January 2015, becoming the first-ever Sooner freshman to earn a perfect score on any apparatus. In addition to her 10.0 on bars, Dowell added season-best marks of 9.975 on floor and 9.925 on vault.
"We will be cheering loud for her from Norman and will look forward to her return to Oklahoma in the fall of 2016," Kindler added.
"I am incredibly blessed to have the support of my OU coaches and teammates."
Prior to her arrival at Oklahoma, Dowell enjoyed a standout career as an international elite level gymnast and a member of the U.S. Senior National Team. While competing at Great American Gymnastics Express (GAGE) under Al Fong and Armine Barutyan, Dowell appeared in multiple national and international competitions, including the AT&T American Cup, P&G Championships, U.S. Olympic Trials, Secret U.S. Classic, VISA Championships, Covergirl Classic and J.O. Nationals.
She captured the silver medal in the all-around at the 2014 AT&T American Cup and finished fifth on bars at the 2014 P&G Championships. Dowell also took third in the all-around and on bars at the 2013 P&G Championships and contributed to team golds at the 2013 City of Jesolo Trophy and the 2012 Pan American Championships.
Dowell was a non-travelling alternate for the 2014 World Championships and a member of the 2013 World Championship team, though she did not see competition.
The 2015 World Gymnastics Championships will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1.