March 11, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. - The fourth-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad clinched its third perfect regular season in four years Friday with its 196.875-194.800 win over Michigan State at the Lloyd Noble Center on OU's senior night.
Oklahoma (15-0, 3-0 Big 12) remains the only undefeated team in the NCAA with the win over the Spartans, while extending its nation-leading regular-season win streak to 29.
The Sooners improved to 6-0 all-time against Michigan State Friday and are now 37-2 at home and 69-6 in the regular season under current head coach, K.J. Kindler.
OU won all four event titles for the fifth-straight meet, while an OU gymnast won at least a share of all four event titles for the second-straight meet.
Senior Melanie Root, Madison Mooring and Sara Stone all scored a 9.875 on vault to share the event title. Natasha Kelley and Kayla Nowak both also scored a 9.875 to share the bars title. Kelley also took home the beam title with a 9.9, while Megan Ferguson won the floor title with a career-high-tying 9.925.
The Sooners honored seniors Root and Natalie Ratcliff following the meet, the duo has been a part of three Big 12 championship teams and have helped OU to three-straight NCAA appearances.
"Mel and Nattie ended with style," OU Head Coach K.J. Kindler said. "They hit all of their routines tonight. I'm so proud of them, they totally nailed it today and led their team well. I thought they competed with emotion and enthusiasm. It was an emotional night."
Ratcliff scored a season-high-tying 9.85 on beam while Root won a share of the vault title with her 9.875.
OU started on vault with a 49.300. All six Sooners in the lineup posted a 9.8 or higher to give OU its second-highest vault total of the season.
Stone, Mooring and Root led the team on vault with 9.875s in the final three positions of the lineup.
"That was one of our two best vault performances of the year and to start out hot like that was one of our goals for the meet," Kindler said. "Unfortunately I don't think we capitalized off of it. We made a lot of mistakes tonight and they were all small but they add up. When you're making small mistakes like that it nips away at your score. That's why we weren't able to come up with that huge performance you want to have right before the postseason."
The Sooners held their lead over Michigan State after the second rotation, despite tying their second-lowest team score on bars this season with a 48.925.
Kelley and Nowak led the team on bars, each scoring a 9.875 on the apparatus. Kelley and Nowak have both scored a 9.8 or higher in eight of OU's 11 meets this season.
Freshman Hayden Ward added a 9.8 for the Sooners on bars to finish in third place overall.
The Sooners recovered on beam, with a 49.275 event total in the third rotation.
Kelley scored OU's first 9.9 of the night from the anchor position on beam. The 9.9 was Kelley's second-straight 9.9 and her fourth score of at least 9.9 on the apparatus this season.
Ferguson and Mooring both added 9.875s to help boost OU to its ninth score of 49.000 or higher on beam.
OU clinched the win and its perfect regular season with a season-high 49.375 team total on floor. The Sooners posted five scores of at least 9.85, including a 9.9 from Stone and Ferguson's career-high 9.925.
Ferguson's 9.925 was her second-straight score of 9.9 or higher, while Stone tied her season-high with the 9.9.
The Sooners will compete for their fourth-straight conference title as OU starts postseason action next Saturday, March 19 at the 2011 Big 12 Championships in Columbia, Mo., at 2 p.m.
Oklahoma will make its final appearance of 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center on April 2 as the Sooners host one of six NCAA regionals at 4 p.m. For more information on the Norman regional click here.