Sooners Victorious in Senior Night Quad Meet
|Vault||Brenna Dowell (OU), Anastasia Webb (OU)||9.925|
|Bars||Nicole Lehrmann (OU)||9.950|
|Beam||Maggie Nichols (OU)||9.975|
|Floor||AJ Jackson (OU)||9.950|
|AA||Maggie Nichols (OU)||39.725|
|OU Team Highs|
|Vault||Brenna Dowell, Anastasia Webb||9.925|
NORMAN — The No. 1 Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team wrapped up its home slate with a quad-meet win over No. 10 Arkansas, No. 12 ASU and No. 15 Denver Friday night at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners put up a mark of 198.100 to take first place at the meet. Denver came in second with a 196.525, followed by Arkansas (195.700) and Arizona State (195.700).
With its sixth score of 198 or higher, OU set a single-season record for marks of 198 in the regular season. In 2017, OU also posted six marks of 198-plus, but only had five in the regular season, adding the sixth at the NCAA Super Six.
OU’s seniors competed for the final time in Lloyd Noble Center, making an impact in their final home meet. AJ Jackson took home the event title on floor with a 9.950, while Stefani Catour tied her career high on bars with a 9.925 and added a 9.850 on beam. Alongside teammates Natalie Brown and Samantha Craus, the quartet combined for a perfect 33-0 record at home in their four years.
“I think it’s a very hard meet because your heart is pumping and your emotions are going,” head coach K.J Kindler said. “You try and tell yourself that it’s not senior night but it is senior night. You tell yourself that you’re calm and cool but inside you don’t feel that way because it’s emotional. People as dedicated as they are… they have to love the sport to do it like this and they have to love this team to do it at this level. To let that go that is really hard. I love them all. Like I said they are an incredible group together. Together they just have an amazing chemistry.”
Sophomore Maggie Nichols took home the all-around title with a 39.725. Junior Nicole Lehrmann added to her impressive all-around resume with a 39.525 to come in third. Denver’s Maddie Karr took second with a 39.550. OU took home every event title, with five different Sooners taking home at least a share of each event title.
OU started strong on vault with a 49.525 to take the lead after one rotation. Brenna Dowell and Anastasia Webb put up matching 9.925s to pace the Sooners. Maggie Nichols and Jackson recorded identical scores of 9.9 on their Yurchenko 1.5’s as the Sooners counted four scores of 9.9 or higher on the event. Alex Marks added a 9.875 in the leadoff spot on a beautiful Yurchenko full with an incredible stuck landing. Nicole Lehrmann, competing in the all-around, added a 9.825 in the No. 2 spot.
“I would like to commend Alex for the way that she started the meet off for us,” Kindler said. “That was definitely her best vault of the year no doubt. She stuck it cold and that is the way that we need to start our events. I was super pleased with that because she’s definitely fighting for that spot and she came through. I think we had really big vaults today. I’m going to say two sticks, Alex and Anastasia. Anastasia absolutely darted her vault.”
The Sooners put up a season-high on bars with a 49.625 to extend their lead. The mark also tied the fourth-best score in program history. Jackson got the ball rolling with a 9.9 in the leadoff spot for a new season high and tying her career high. Webb followed with a strong 9.925 on a beautifully stuck dismount. Catour tied her career high with a stunning routing in the No. 3 spot for a 9.925. Dowell added a 9.875 in the No. 4 spot.
“We weren’t planning on competing AJ on bars and we made the decision after warm-ups,” Kindler said. “That was her best bar routine of the year. I think she has an extra reason to focus right now. That 9.90 came at just the right time. She had her best dismount in a competition. When you can start a lineup with a 9.90 that is huge for the lineup. Stefani has tied her career high on bars and beam the last two meets, which was awesome. Bars was just incredible tonight. One of their best no doubt about it. You have to give AJ credit for starting it that way.”
The defending co-national champions on bars, Lehrmann and Nichols, anchored the Sooners. Lehrmann put up a team-high 9.950 in the No. 5 spot, while Nichols posted a 9.925 to close out the rotation.
OU continued to pull away from the pack with a 49.375 on beam. Nichols was outstanding as usual in the anchor spot, scoring a 9.975 on a near flawless routine. In the No. 2 spot, sophomore Bre Showers added a 9.900 on a gorgeous routine. On her final routine at Lloyd Noble, Catour led off with a steady performance for a 9.850. Lehrmann added a 9.875 in the No. 3 spot.
The Sooners closed out the meet by tying their season high on floor with a 49.575. In her final meet at the LNC, senior AJ Jackson took home the event title with a 9.950. A crowd favorite the last four years, Jackson had the crowd on their feet before even taking to the floor. Her tumbling was on point and the innovative choreography had the crowd cheering the entire routine. Dowell added a 9.9 in the No. 2 spot, showing off her powerful tumbling yet again. Lehrmann tallied a 9.875 in the No. 3 spot, giving her a 39.525 in the all-around competition. Nichols and Webb put up matching scores of 9.925. Nichols anchored with her outstanding tumbling to push OU over the 198 mark for the third-consecutive meet.
“It meant a lot, just knowing that everyone came here to support our team,” Jackson said. “Knowing that it is senior night and that it will be our last time performing here at home, it has meant a lot just to go out on a good note.”
“I think that is one of the things that I will miss the most is the fans,” Brown said. “They come out here and support us and have their whole heart in it. They stay and they support us and they really show their love for us. We appreciate them so much and I think we are all going to miss it a lot.”
The Sooners will have their first double weekend of the season, traveling to Alabama and TWU. OU will face off against Alabama Friday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, before hitting the road to Denton, Texas to take on TWU Sunday, March 18, at 2 p.m. The meet against Alabama will air on the SEC Network+.