NORMAN, Okla., -- The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team finished third at the Big 12 Championship on Saturday, March 26 at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Nebraska won the conference title, scoring 196.650 points. Iowa State finished second for the second consecutive season at 196.0, Oklahoma scored 195.5 and Missouri finished fourth at 194.875.
Nebraska also grabbed the beam and floor titles, scoring 48.9 and 49.35, respectively. Iowa State took the team vault title with 49.35 points and Oklahoma won on bars with 49.2 points.
“We were hot on three events tonight, but probably dug ourselves too big of a hole after the balance beam,” OU head coach Steve Nunno said. “The team was probably off to one of our best meets this season at the halfway point. If we stay on the beam, then we are right in this thing till the end.”
OU led the competition through two rotations by 0.1 points, but falls on beam put the Sooners out of competition for the win.
“I think we were too confident entering the rotation on the beam,” Nunno said. “We hit all the big skills but took the little things for granted. We had some falls and strange occurrences and struggled to get back into it. However, we did not give up and did a solid job on our last event (floor exercise).”
Senior Erin LaBarr led the Sooners. The Sooners’ captain native scored 39.3 total points, finishing the all-around in fourth place.
Nebraska’s Richelle Simpson captured the all-around title with 39.525 points. Simpson also tied with teammate Emily Parsons for the beam title (9.85) and with Iowa State’s Janet Anson for the floor title (9.925). Missouri’s Alisha Robinson won vault (9.925) and Michele Zabawa of Nebraska won bars (9.90).
“Nebraska was tough to beat. They are a team that has been consistent all season long and it shows with its No. 3 national ranking. And Iowa State was not to be denied a chance at the title.”
Aside from the beam scores, Oklahoma had one of its more spectacular meets. The Sooners lowest counted score on vault, bars and floor was just a 9.75.
LaBarr was named Big 12 Gymnast of the Year by the conference’s coaches after Saturday’s championship event. It marked the second straight year that a Sooner gymnast collected the honor. Kasie Tamayo (2001-2004) won the award last season.
“Despite the third-place finish, we came out winners tonight because Erin was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the year,” Nunno added. “I can’t think of a more deserving person than Erin, she is an inspiration to us all. As a team, we will look to follow her leadership and determination into the NCAA Regional in two weeks.”
Prior to the conference meet, LaBarr had performed in 47 of a possible 48 routines, completing an all-around competition in 11 of the Sooners’ 12 meets and winning four of them. The Bartlesville, Okla., native was primarily responsible for 18 percent (most on team) of OU’s total points scored during the regular season (412.55 of 2,347.275). She also scored the program’s seventh perfect score at the season opener in Cancun, Mexico. Her 10.0 on bars was also just the second perfect score on the apparatus. The performance earned her the first Big 12 Gymnast of the Week honor on Jan. 11.
LaBarr is the only walk-on in program history to become an All-American.
Nebraska’s Emily Parsons was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Iowa State head coach K.J. Kindler earned coach of the year honors. Parsons was a two-time Big 12 Gymnast of the Week honoree the only freshman to earn that honor in 2005.
Kindler earned the coaching honor for the second consecutive year. In her fifth year at Iowa State, she guided her program to a 12-3 record, second best in the conference, and an undefeated season at home. The Cyclones finished the regular season ranked No. 9 in the nation.