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Feb. 12, 2003

MEET PREVIEW

The No. 16 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team hosts its second consecutive top-20 match up when it faces No. 17 Iowa inside the Lloyd Noble Center on Friday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. The meet will also feature the defending national champion OU men's team against Iowa. The first 250 fans in attendance will receive signed OU men's gymnastics posters.

"I haven't seen Iowa compete," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "Last year they were like us and missed out on the NCAA Championships. We haven't had a meet with them in quite a few years. Really, the only thing I know about them is that they have been posting better scores in the last few meets, like we have. It should be exciting because we appear to be evenly matched. A meet, like this, matching top 20 teams,m will likely come down to the last two competitors, which is always entertaining for the fans."

OU comes into the weekend dual with a 4-6 overall record and a scoring average of 195.040. OU dropped one spot to No. 16 in the most recent poll. The Sooners need to consistently post scores above the 196 point threshold to climb into the top 12 and reach a favorable regional seeding. OU has yet to score above the 196 mark in 2003, while in 2002 it scored above that mark in nine of 12 meets.

The good news for the Sooners that they still haven't fielded a complete squad and are getting healthier by the day.

"Leah Mueller is still not ready," said Nunno. "We are hoping to get Kasie Tamayo back on balance beam and their is a remote possibility that she will also vault this week. Her addition on vault is key because that event has our lowest start value and she will significantly increase it. We will be competing with our best team of the season this weekend against Iowa."

OU hosts No. 21 Missouri in their second home Big 12 dual on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. The first 250 fans in attendance will receive free OU women's and men's trading cards. Admission to the meet is $5 for adults and $2 for children. For more ticket information, call the OU athletics ticket office at (800) 456-GoOU.

AOKI = OUTSTANDING

Take it from the Coach Nunno's own words, "Patricia Aoki is on fire." Aoki has undoubtedly had the most impressive four meet stretch of her Sooner career. During the last four meets, of which OU has won three, Aoki has collected eight career high scores, including seven in the last three meets. During that span she has competed in the all-around three times and set a new best in each meet.

Her all-around improvement has been both consistent and dramatic. Aoki's scores have jumped from her original mark of 39.050 to 39.225, 39.325 and finally 39.500. Against, Penn State she scored above 9.800 on every event she competed for the first time in her career. She topped out at 9.925 on floor and vault during the meet, which were also career highs.

Nunno expected this and has clearly enjoyed the results as well.

"She planned to have a huge season this year and we as coaches were looking forward to it," said Nunno. "She is becoming one of the best all-arounders in the country. The key now is to pace her along and make sure she is strong at the season's conclusion."

SOONER UPDATES

Karina Agafonova - Junior transfer may return to all-around this weekend.
Tara Anderson - Freshman missed her first meet of the season against Penn State.
Patricia Aoki - For the third consecutive meet, Aoki recorded career high in the al-around with score of 39.500.
Kristin Cox - Highly touted freshman still recuperating from ankle injury.
Meredith Fricke - Freshman hasn't scored below 9.825 on floor exercise.
Nicole Gause - Freshman now regularly competing on three events.
Christy Gerard - Notched high of 9.850 on beam against Penn State.
Kelly Haggerty - Highest ranked Sooner at No. 11 on beam.
Katie Hostler - Two straight misses on floor uncharacteristic for freshman who was Missouri state champion in the event.
Erin Labarr - Sophomore landed a 9.850 on bars and a second-place finish.
Allison Landis - One judge gave her a perfect 10, but she ended up with 9.950on bars against Penn State.
Leah Mueller - Still recovering from injury to patellla tendon.
Melissa Smith - Freshman looking for her first top three finish of the season.
Kasie Tamayo - Competed on bars against PSU and may add beam this weekend.

TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE

Oklahoma opened the season against a field that included the current No. 3-6 teams in this weeks poll. Since then, the schedule has eased, minus that road bump at No. 5 Nebraska, but the Soooners need to peak in the next four meets before hitting the toughest stretch as the regular season winds down. OU faces No. 17 Iowa, No. 21 Missouri, No. 20 Iowa State, T.W.U and Centenary in must-win situations. Then comes the tough west coast swing which will feature duals with No. 1 UCLA, No. 8 Stanford and No. 13 Arizona.

IN THE RANKINGS

Freshman Kelly Haggerty leads the Sooners with a No. 11 ranking on the balance beam. Kasie Tamayo is ranked No. 46 on the same event with an average of 9.800. OU has six athletes ranked in the top 102 on the event. As a team the Sooners are ranked No. 9 on the event, their highest standing on any event.

Senior Patricia Aoki is the only other Sooner in the top-20 on an event, ranking No. 18 on floor and just out side the top-20 in the all-around at No. 28 with an average of 39.212. Aoki also ranks No. 61 on bars, No. 87 on beam and No. 97 on vault.

Freshman Katie Hostler lead's OU competitors on vault at No. 74. OU ranks No. 27 on the event.

On bars Aoki is the only Sooner in the top-100, but OU ranks No. 22 on the event, largely due to their improved scores since the Super Six Challenge.

On floor exercise freshman Meredith Fricke is at No. 24, with an average of 9.880, while the team ranks at No. 23.