Sooners Advance to Four on the Floor
|Vault||Nichols (OU), Edney (LSU), Ross (UCLA), Gobourne (Auburn),||9.95|
|Bars||Sarah Finnegan (LSU)||9.95|
|Beam||Natalie Wojcik (Michigan)||9.95|
|Floor||Dowell (OU), Ross (UCLA), Boren (UF), Brown (Denver)||9.95|
|AA||Maggie Nichols (OU)||39.7125|
|OU Team Highs|
|Beam||Lehrmann, Nichols, Woodard||9.900|
FORT WORTH, Texas – It’s back to the finals for Oklahoma.
With a first-place finish in NCAA Semifinal II, the top-seeded Sooners will make their seventh straight and ninth overall appearance in the team finals. OU posted a 197.850 to take the top spot in the second session of the NCAA Championships on Friday evening inside the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The Sooners will be joined in the Four on the Floor by No. 5 Denver (197.0375). No. 15 Oregon State finished in third place with a 196.9000, while No. 8 Georgia rounded out the second session with a 196.4625. The two additional advancing teams from Semifinal I were No. 2 UCLA (197.675) and No. 3 LSU (197.5125).
“Obviously we're thrilled for this opportunity to advance,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “I’m incredibly proud of our team and our student-athletes. They have just continued to show tremendous character, competitiveness and consistency and we're incredibly proud. I want to congratulate Denver because that was awesome. And it's great to have a new team in that final night. I'd like to say congratulations to you [Denver]. That's amazing and that's what our sport is about. That's what's great about our sport is that anything can happen. You can work your way up to the top. You can get there."
The Sooners posted the best score of both sessions on bars (49.5625) and the highest overall team score.
“We had a good night and we can be better,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “We had moments of real greatness and other moments that we probably slacked a little mentally. I think there is more on the table for us to go after tomorrow night. I am very excited and proud to be there. I always tell them ‘you can’t take this for granted’. No team gets to go every year and nothing is automatic; you have to earn it every single time. I’m proud of them and the way they fought through it, especially on beam. We gave away a lot but they didn’t lose their wits and that was great. Bars was phenomenal as well as floor. Vault and beam can be better. Looking forward to tomorrow night, looking forward to this first opportunity of only having four teams on the floor. The meet goes so fast and the pace is so fast and the momentum is really important in a meet like this.”
Junior Maggie Nichols defended her all-around crown, taking home the title with a 39.7125. Nichols added a vault title to her collection and has now earned an individual title on three of four events (bars - 2017, 2018; floor - 2018) and the all-around. She is the OU record holder for most individual career titles with six, breaking a tie with Sooner legend Kelly Garrison.
“It’s so incredible and so special,” Nichols said. “I work really hard in the gym to help my team out as best as I can and to have those titles is so special. Representing the best school in the nation, the University of Oklahoma, is so special to me.”
Senior Brenna Dowell earned a share of the floor title with a 9.95 for her second career individual championship.
“It was definitely exciting,” Dowell said. “I didn’t really expect to come out here and leave with a national title, but it is definitely an honor. For the most part, we go out there and compete the best we can for our team and always individual accomplishments are icing on the cake.”
Eight Sooners picked up an incredible 17 All-America honors. Gymnasts placing first through fourth are named to the first team, while those in fifth to eighth are on the second team.
Nichols picked up five All-America accolades for the second time in her career. The Little Canada, Minn., native earned first-team honors on all four events and the all-around to bring her career total to 13. Dowell earned three honors, picking up first-team recognition on floor and the all-around and second-team honors on vault.
Senior Nicole Lehrmann also picked up a trio of accolades with first-team recognition on vault, bars and beam. Sophomore Anastasia Webb earned a pair of honors (second team on bars and floor), while sophomore Karrie Thomas (first team bars), sophomore Carly Woodard (first team beam), junior Jade Degouveia (second team floor) and freshman Olivia Trautman (first team floor) each earned All-America accolades on one apparatus.
Oklahoma began the meet on vault posting a 49.400 to take a lead they would never relinquish. The Sooners started strong as Lehrmann posted a 9.925 in the leadoff position to earn fifth-place overall. Webb followed with a 9.85 and Nichols added a 9.95. Dowell anchored with a 9.9 to send the Sooners to bars with the lead.
On bars, the Sooners posted an incredible 49.5625 to extend their lead to 98.9625 at the halfway point. Webb started things off with a 9.9 and a stuck dismount, followed by a 9.8125 from senior Alex Marks. Thomas continued her streak of incredible meets, sticking her double layout dismount to earn a 9.9135, good enough for sixth-place overall. Dowell added a 9.8875, while Lehrmann earned a fourth-place finish with a 9.925. Nichols anchored with a 9.9375 to take home second place.
Oklahoma posted a 49.2875 on beam, with three gymnasts posting scores of 9.9. Lehrmann, Nichols and Woodard all scored a 9.9, tying for sixth place. Trautman led off with a 9.850, while Dowell added a 9.7375.
In the final rotation, the Sooners put up a huge 49.600 on floor to earn their spot in the final day of competition. OU counted five scores of 9.9 or better as Nichols made her return to the floor lineup for the first time since Jan. 15.
Webb led off with a 9.9, followed by a 9.8625 from sophomore Evy Schoepfer. Degouveia added a 9.9 of her own, while Dowell showcased her signature move for a 9.95 in the No. 4 spot. Trautman added her 14th score of 9.925 or better this season with a 9.925 in the No. 5 spot. Nichols anchored with a 9.925 of her own, securing the all-around title for the second consecutive season.
Oklahoma will vie for its fourth overall NCAA title when it competes in Saturday's team finals. The meet will begin at 6 p.m. CT and air live on ESPNU, with individual streams of each event available on WatchESPN.com.
“We want to win more than anything,” Nichols said. “That’s been our main focus this whole year. We have worked so hard on little details inside of the gym, toe points, handstands, stuck landings. Outside of the gym we have been working so hard going to the training room, eating heathy, drinking water. Another thing that is so special about this team is that this year we have grown as a family because we have had so many setbacks. I am so excited for tomorrow and to see how it all unfolds. I am going to leave everything on the floor, everyone is, and we hope to take the national championship.”