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Women's Gymnastics Takes On Huskers
February 05, 2005

NORMAN, Okla. The No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners women’s gymnastics team travels to Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Feb. 5, for its meet with the No. 9 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

 

The defending Big 12 Championship Sooners go into the weekend with an undefeated record (7-0) and the program’s best start since sweeping through the regular season 13-0 and claiming the Big Eight Championship crown in 1985.

 

The Huskers have not lost a regular season meet at home since March 1, 1993, a span of 52 meets in which their record is 71-0-1.

 

Weekly Release (PDF)

 

“We’ve always been up for the Nebraska challenge,” OU head coach Steve Nunno said. “Quite frankly, in the past, they have had deeper talent than we have had.”

 

In 2004, the Sooners lost to Nebraska in Norman 196.6-196.35 before defeating them in the Big 12 Championships.

 

This year’s competition will feature some of the best gymnasts in the nation as the lineups are littered with top-25 ranked individuals.

 

Oklahoma will be led by senior Erin LaBarr and this week’s Big 12 Gymnast of the Week Ashley Cooney.

 

“In my five years, this is our most talented and experience team,” Nunno continued. “We don’t have any excuses this time.”

 

In all-around competition, OU features eighth-ranked Brittney Koncak, No. 11 Cooney and No. 20 LaBarr. Nebraska will field No. 25 Simpson.

 

On vault, the Huskers take the advantage with No. 2 Emily Parsons and No. 14 Simpson. Oklahoma’s Cooney is ranked No. 6.

 

Uneven bars specialists include No. 8 LaBarr for the Sooners and No. 14 Desire’ Sriatynski and No. 22 Esposito for NU.

 

Simpson, at No. 6, is the lone ranked athlete on balance beam.

 

Oklahoma’s Kristen Cox, at No. 13, is tied in the rankings with teammate Cooney on floor. OU’s LaBarr is also ranked in this discipline at No. 18 and Nebraska’s Parsons is ranked eighth.

 

Last week, the Sooners defeated No. 19 Ohio State and Illinois State, matching this season’s best score of 195.9.

 

“We’re coming off a great competition on the road at Ohio State,” Nunno said. “We hit on 24 of 24 routines with no major breaks, but we were a little sloppy. I think we’ve got a lot more in us.”

 

OHIO STATE TRIANGULAR REVIEW

The Oklahoma Sooners won three of four events, defeating Ohio State and Illinois State Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Ohio State Triangular.

 

Oklahoma won the vault (48.975), uneven bars (48.975) and floor exercise (49.050) as they finished first overall with 195.900 points. Ohio State was second with a score of 194.775 and Illinois State completed the field with a 188.625. The Sooners also scored a season-high 48.900 on beam.

 

Ashley Cooney won her third consecutive all-around title (39.350) and picked up wins on the vault and floor exercise. Cooney matched a season high, earning a 9.9 with her vault.

 

Brittney Koncak competed in her first all-around of the season, scoring a 39.225. The sophomore led the Sooners on bars and beam, scoring a pair of season-high 9.875s and placing second in both events.

 

Kristen Cox, the final OU all-arounder, finished fourth with a 39.025.

 

The night opened with a  pair of freshman, Stephanie LoPiccolo and Caitlin Hinkis, starting the uneven bars. LoPiccolo, who recorded an 8.85 in exhibition against Kent State, scored a 9.675. Hinkis posted a season-high 9.75.

 

Brazilian Coral Borda and Norman-native Jenny Baker also represented the freshmen well. Borda scored career best marks on beam and floor exercise. Baker performed the first competitive floor routine of her collegiate career, scoring a 9.6.a

 

COONEY EARNS FIRST GYMNAST OF THE WEEK HONOR

Sophomore Ashley Cooney was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for Feb. 1 by the conference office. Cooney earned the honor for the first time in her career.

 

The sophomore from Plano, Texas, won her third consecutive all-around title with a 39.350 at the Ohio State Triangular. The scored matched her season-high set the previous week. In addition, Cooney won the vault (9.9) and floor (9.875) while helping Oklahoma to the team title. Her vault score also matched a season-high.

 

Cooney is the second Sooner to earn the honor this season. Senior Erin LaBarr was tabbed as gymnast of the week on Jan. 11.

 

Cooney is currently ranked No. 11 in all-around competition, sixth on vault and No. 13 on floor exercise.

 

HIGH START VALUE

At 7-0, the Sooners women's gymnastics team is off to its best start since going undefeated and winning the Big Eight Conference Championship in 1985.

 

Coached by Becky Switzer, the 1985 team swept through their schedule with a 13-0 record before finishing in 10th place at the NCAA Championships.

THE LATEST POLL
Oklahoma is ranked No. 10 in the latest GymInfo Poll. Individually, Brittney Koncak is the ranked the No. 8 all-arounder in the country and teammate Ashley Cooney follows closely in 11th. Cooney is also ranked sixth on vault and tied with teammate Kristen Cox for 13th on floor. Erin LaBarr is No. 20 in all-around competition, including a No. 8 ranking on uneven bars and No. 18 on floor.

Week Three: Jan. 24
Rank    Team
1.         UCLA
2.         Utah
3.         Michigan
4.         Alabama
5.         Florida
6.         Georgia
7.         LSU
8.         Brigham Young
9.         Denver
10.       Iowa State
11.       Oklahoma
12.       Arkansas
13.       Auburn
14.       Oregon State
15.       Michigan State
16.       Southern Utah
17.       Arizona State
18.       Kentucky
19.       Penn State
20.       Arizona
21.       Ohio State
22.       Washington
23.       Nebraska
24.       Minnesota
25.       Central Michigan

LABARR HONORED BY BIG 12
Erin LaBarr was named the first Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for the 2005 season, the conference office announced Tuesday. LaBarr earned the honor for the first time in her career.

The senior captain from Bartlesville, Okla., put together an impressive performance to kick off the 2005 season.  LaBarr recorded the school’s seventh perfect score with her routine on the bars en route to a first place finish in the all-around at the Second Annual Gymnastics Classic. She led the Sooners with a 39.600 (career high) in the all-around and also won the balance beam (9.9) and floor exercise (9.925) at the Cancun Classic, helping Oklahoma to the team title against then-No. 18 BYU, George Washington and Gustavus Adolphus.

LaBarr is ranked third in the nation in the all-around, No. 1 on the uneven bars, 12th on the floor exercise and sixth on the balance beam.

A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT PERFECTION
LaBarr’s 10.0 on Jan. 7 was the first perfect score for a Sooner since the 2003 season (Allison Landis-uneven bars). It is just the seventh 10.0 in Sooners’ history and the second on the uneven bars.

She also becomes just the third Big 12 gymnast to record a 10.0 on bars since the inception of the conference, joining Nebraska’s Bree Dority (2001) and Landis (2003).

SOPHOMORE SLUMP?
Sophomore Ashley Cooney was the 2004 Big 12 and West Regional champion vault in her first year at OU and  it appears like the Texas native is picking up right where she left off.

Cooney opened the 2005 season with a first place victory on the vault and followed that with another victory last week. Cooney also won the all-around (39.025) against T.W.U.

Against, Kent State, she again won the all-around 39.350). Cooney was victorious in three events and scored a season-high 9.85 on the uneven bars. The Plano, Texas, native also won vault (9.80) and floor exercise (9.9).

Most recently, Cooney captured her third consecutive all-around title (39.350), matching her season-high score in the process. She also picked up wins on vault, with a season-high matching 9.9 stick, and floor exercise.

WHAT COACH NUNNO HAS TO SAY ABOUT...
Seniors

“With only two seniors this year, and both of them serving as team captains, our young squad will rely on them heavily during the course of the season,” said Nunno. “Erin LaBarr will provide leadership by experience and by example because of her accomplishments here at OU and her work ethic. 

“Nicole Gause has dedicated her life to gymnastics but in her final year she has committed herself to help lead others fill the void she will leave when she hangs up her grips.”

Juniors
“Our three juniors were my first group of recruits,” said Nunno.  “They have done a fabulous job of setting the example in the gym and in the classroom.  They carry exceptionally high GPAs and have improved as gymnasts in their time at OU.  This class has competed in virtually every meet over the past two years and will continue to provide friendship and team spirit for our underclassmen.”

Sophomores
“The sophomores are the foundation of our team,” said Nunno.  “All four of them are strong all-around competitors and are dedicated individuals.  We expect a tremendous showing of upgraded gymnastics skills from them this season along with some experienced performances.  Our sophomores will be fun to watch this year and beyond.”

Freshmen
“Eight freshmen is the largest class ever here at OU,” said Nunno. “They all bring such a different element to our team and all have such diverse personalities that every day is an adventure.  It’s enjoyable to coach each of them and watch them all improve as time passes.  It will be interesting to see who rises to the top during the season.”

Schedule
“We are tremendously excited about hosting two of our home meets off campus in an attempt to bring more exposure to our up and coming program.  We also play host to the Big 12 Championships this year and we look forward to defending our title in our house!”

OKLAHOMA SIGNS JACKSON AND DEPROSPERO
The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team announced the signing of Ashley Jackson and Haley DeProspero (pronounced deh-PROSS-per-oh) to National Letters of Intent Nov. 12. Jackson, a native of Hudsonville, Michigan, is a 5-1 gymnast that placed fifth in the all-around at the 2004 Junior Nationals.  DeProspero, a native of McKinney, Texas, is a 5-0 elite gymnast who finished first in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise at the 2004 Pike’s Peak Cup.

“We are excited today to announce the signing of these two exceptional gymnasts,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno.  “Haley is one of the most talented athletes in the country and Ashley is one of the most powerful athletes to ever join our team.”

DeProspero competed in the 2003 and 2002 U.S. National Championships finishing 24th and 27th, respectively.  In addition to DeProspero’s three first place finishes at the 2004 Pike Peak Cup, she also finished in the top five on three events (3rd-AA, 2nd-beam, 3rd-floor) at the 2004 Sand Dollar Invite.  Haley is the daughter of Bob and Dayna DeProspero, both graduates of OU.

“Haley was one of the most highly recruited athletes this year and we are truly excited that she has chosen the University of Oklahoma,” said Nunno. “There is no doubt in my mind that Haley will become a record holder here for women’s gymnastics. She is coming in at the perfect time as we will probably have our most promising team ever in 2006.”

Jackson had a successful outing at the 2004 Junior Nationals in which she not only placed fifth in the all-around but  recorded three other top ten finishes.  Jackson took ninth on the uneven bars, third on the beam and fifth on the floor exercise at the meet.  In other action this year, Jackson was the Michigan State Champion and also placed third in the all-around at the 2004 Region 5 Regionals.  The Michigan native also has some international experience, competing with the Region 5 Team at meets in El Salvador and China this past year.  Ashley is the daughter of Francis and Minerva Jackson.

“Ashley has a wonderful personality that sparks excitement with everyone she meets,” said Nunno. “She is a great all-around performer and in the words of her coaches, she’s money in the bank’ when it comes to competing.”

OKLAHOMA RANKED NO. 11 IN PRESEASON POLL
The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team, coming off an 20-11 season, was voted No. 11 in the GymInfo Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. All four teams from the Big 12 made the list, as Nebraska was No. 10, Iowa State No. 14 and Missouri rounded things off at No. 22.

UCLA was voted No. 1 for the fifth consecutive year, receiving 15 first place votes followed by Georgia (three first place votes), Stanford (four first place votes), Alabama (one first place vote) and Utah (two first place votes).

“We are honored to be voted by our peers to be considered one of the top 12 teams in the nation,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “I believe that this is the highest preseason ranking we have ever received here at the University of Oklahoma. Although our team believes that we can better our eleventh place finish from last season, we’re proud to be ranked among the nation’s best.”

Last season, OU put together one of its most productive seasons by winning its first Big 12 Championship and first regional championship. OU went on to finish eleventh at the NCAA Championships.  Nunno’s 2005 team will feature nine letterwinners (two All-Americans) from last year’s team that made the program’s fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships.  In addition, eight newcomers join OU’s team hoping to make an immediate impact and help the Sooners defend their Big 12 title.

OU will compete against seven teams ranked in the preseason poll in 2005 (three in the top 10) and it will open up the season in Cancun, Mexico against Brigham Young, George Washington and Gustavus Adolphus College (Division III) on January 7. The first home meet for OU is on Jan. 21 against Kent State inside the Lloyd Noble Center.

The following is a complete list of the top 25 as selected in the preseason by the coaches:

Preseason Top 25
1.   UCLA
2.   Georgia
3.   Stanford
4.   Alabama
5.   Utah
6.   Florida
7.   Michigan
8.   LSU
9.   Arizona State
10. Nebraska
11. OKLAHOMA
12. Oregon State
13. Arizona
14. Iowa State
15. North Carolina
16. Auburn
17. Iowa
18. Brigham Young
19. Penn State
20. Denver
21. Washington
22. Missouri
23. West Virginia
24. Arkansas
25. California

INTRASQUAD RECAP
The 2004 Crimson and Cream Intrasquad was a success and gave the coaches and athletes a realistic impression of where they stand heading into the season opener in Cancun, Mexico. It was a close competition between the two teams, the Crimson edged out the Cream team by three tenths of a point.

----------------------------------------
Crimson team 156.625
Cream team 156.325
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As a team, the two squads combined for a solid 196.7 overall tally, where five of the best scores were counted in each event.

Similar to the years past, the bars is quickly shaping up to be one of the Sooner’s strongest events. Out of the 12 bar competitors, Ashley Cooney, Erin LaBarr, and Kristen Cox led the way all three scoring a 9.85 or higher.

The beam was highlighted by a couple of 9.9 tallies from senior Nicole Gause and sophomore Ashley Cooney.

The strength of the team might rest on the floor exercise. Senior Erin Labarr led all scorers (9.875) and was followed by freshman Coral Borda (9.875) and Cooney (9.85).

On vault, it was Cooney again leading the Sooners with a 9.95, while junior Kristen Cox was a close second with a 9.9. LaBarr executed a flawless 9.9 start value vault, scoring a 9.8.

OU's 2005 Schedule

Date Time Opponent Location
Jan. 7 8 p.m. Cancun Classic Cancun, Mexico
Jan. 15 7 p.m. at T.W.U. Denton, Texas
Jan. 21 7 p.m. vs. Kent State

Norman, Okla. (LNC)

Jan. 29 7 p.m. at Ohio State Columbus, Ohio
Feb. 5 7 p.m. at Nebraska Lincoln, Neb.
Feb. 13 4 p.m. vs. Georgia Oklahoma City (Cox)
Feb. 18 7 p.m. at Auburn Auburn, Ala.
Feb. 20 2 p.m. vs. Missouri, T.W.U. Norman, Okla. (LNC)
Feb. 25 7 p.m. at Iowa State Ames, Iowa
March 5 7 p.m. T.W.U., Centenary Norman, Okla. (LNC)
March 11 7 p.m. Louisiana State Tulsa, Okla.
March 18 7 p.m. at Southern Utah Cedar City, Utah
March 26 7 p.m. Big 12 Champ. Norman, Okla. (LNC)

*all times local and subject to change.

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