Feb. 3, 2001

The Sooners faced their first and most fierce Big 12 rival, Nebraska, February 3 in Lincoln. Looking strong through most of the meet, the Sooner succumbed on beam to fall to the Huskers, 196.025 to 194.3.

"It was our fifth meet in a row, so the girls were a little tired, not that that's an excuse," co-head coach Steve Nunno said of his second season loss. "We were also trying to upgrade skills, as well as just hitting our routines, so I knew that this meet might be a little shaky on a couple of events. We didn't even go up there with the expectation of winning the meet. For us, hitting those upgraded skills would make it a win."

By Nunno's standards, the Sooners' success was mixed, with several athletes, namely junior Mariana Goncalves successfully performing new skills (Hristikieva on vault) and capturing her first all-around win this season, while season-to-date leader Leticia Ishii stumbled on her best event, bars, forcing a more conservative approach to the rest of the meet.

"We haven't had an error on bars all year," Nunno said of the glitch. "Not one major mistake. To have Leticia, of all people, break was very unexpected. It wasn't a bad break - she dragged her feet - but it forced us to play it safe, which was a little disappointing for her and for me."

The Sooners came back on vault, with strong efforts from Goncalves, Ishii and freshman Kasie Tamayo, all of whom scored 9.85.

On floor, the Sooners continued to match each other. Ishii, Goncalves and Patricia Aoki all earned 9.875, scores that seemed a little low in Nunno's estimation. "We rocked every set on floor," he said. "I mean, we just rocked them and it's like they would NOT give us a 9.9, no matter what. And I really think Patricia and Mariana, at least, deserved that score, maybe more."

Despite the questionable scores, the Sooners held a narrow lead over Nebraska entering their final event, beam. When Redshirt freshman Leah Mueller dislocated her toe and couldn't complete her set, the rest of the Sooners knew they'd have to be perfect to win.

"We just kind of beat ourselves on beam," Nunno said. "When Leah had that problem I knew we had no room for error. Then Leticia fell off twice and I knew we'd have to count that score. From there everyone was just a little tight. Mariana was a little conservative -- she missed a leap. Allison (Mayberry) was not as strong as she has been. We had a few tenths here and there, but they stayed on and did a pretty good job."

"Nebraska is a program that's been in the top five or 10 in the country for the past decade and OU hasn't even been to nationals, and now we're matching them event for event. That's a good feeling. The only reason we didn't win the meet is because we beat ourselves."

"And, as far as I'm concerned, Oklahoma went 1-2-3 in the all-around," Nunno added with a laugh, referring to Sooner stars Goncalves and Tamayo, who secured the top two all-around spots, as well as Nebraska's Alecia Ingram (third all-around), formerly coached by Nunno in Oklahoma City.

OU will get its chance at a Nebraska re-match when they host the Big 12 Championships this March.