TEXAS WOMAN'S PREVIEW
The No. 3 Sooners continue the 2005 season on the road with a matchup with Texas Woman’s University on Saturday, Jan. 15 in Denton, Texas.
After recording a solid 195.9 score in the first meet of the season in Cancun, Mexixo, OU head coach Steve Nunno and the Sooners will look to build upon last week’s first place finish.
Leading the way for OU in Cancun was senior Erin LaBarr and sophomore Ashley Cooney. LaBarr took home first place honors in the all-around and on every event except the vault. Cooney placed first on the vault and third in the all-around, floor exercise and balance beam.
“I believe this is the highest ranking in the history of the program,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno about the Sooners’ No. 3 ranking this week. “It is still very early in the season so rankings don’t mean anything other than they build our confidence. We certainly avenged our third place performance from last season in Cancun. We are looking forward to the meet this weekend against Texas Woman’s University.“
This weekend’s meet will mark the season opener for T.W.U. who has won two USAG National titles in the last four years.
The last time OU and T.W.U. met was in the final meet of the 2004 regular season where the Sooners topped the Pioneers, 196.375 - 193.325. The two also met earlier in the year at T.W.U where once again the Sooners found themselves victorious,197.300 - 192.200.
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 just the school’s seventh perfect 10.0 score with her routine on the bars (career high) 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 in helping Oklahoma to the team title against No. 18 BYU, George Washington and Gustavus Adolphus.
She is ranked third in the nation in the all-around, first on the uneven bars, 11th on the floor exercise and sixth on the balance beam.
SOONERS JUMP TO NO. 3
After a successful start to the 2005 season, OU jumped up eight spots in the rankings this week and comes in at No. 3. In addition, the team is ranked No. 4 on the floor exercise, No. 15 on the beam, No. 3 on the uneven bars and No. 8 on the vault.
The Sooners won the Second Annual Cancun Gymnastics Classic with a 195.9 after finishing third in last year’s competition. As a team, the Sooners rattled off scores of 48.85 on the vault, 49.25 on the uneven bars, 48.425 on the balance beam and a 49.375 on the floor exercise. Besides the balance beam, where they had to count a fall, the Sooners topped the competition in each team event.
The Sooners also dominated the individual competition in Cancun placing 10 times in the top three of each individual event.
A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT PERFECTION
LaBarr’s 10.0 on Jan. 7 is 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 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.
In addition, Cooney took third in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise.
WHAT NUNNO HAS TO SAY ABOUT:
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
SOONERS RANKED NO. 11 IN PRESEASON COACHES’ 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), starting with No. 18 Brigham Young 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:
9. Arizona State
12. Oregon State
14. Iowa State
15. North Carolina
18. Brigham Young
19. Penn State
23. West Virginia
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 today. 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.”
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
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
*all times local and subject to change.