NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Sooners (1-3) face Southern Utah (0-0) Friday, Jan. 20, for their home opener at the Howard McCasland Field House in Norman. OU did not compete last week but have been working hard in the gym in preparation for a talented Thunderbird team.
OU enters the meet as the No. 16 ranked team in the nation, while Southern Utah is not ranked. Friday night’s meet will be a dual meet with the No. 3 ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team competing against the Air Force Academy. Both meets will begin at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m.
The meet marks the season home opener for the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team. In commemoration of the event, fans can enjoy $.50 hot dogs and cokes. Following the meet, the women’s team will be available in the front lobby for an autograph session.
General Public $5
*A group is considered 10 or more people and tickets must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance through the OU Ticket Office, (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668.
SEATING: Seating will be restricted to the upper section of the McCasland Field House. All seating will be general admission. Doors open at 6 p.m.
LIVE SCORING: Following each rotation, scores will be posted on SoonerSports.com.
Southern Utah Preview
“We are really excited to be competing in the Howard McCasland Field House this season,” said head coach Steve Nunno. “The energy level will be high and the crowd will be loud with both the men’s and women’s teams competing. We look forward to entertaining our fans with new and challenging routines.”
The Sooners are coming off a disappointing fourth place-finish at the third annual Cancun Gymnastics Classic held on Jan. 6. Oklahoma finished with a 193.325 team score after struggling on beam and floor exercise. Defending national champion Georgia took team honors with a score of 195.70, Stanford came in at second place with a 194.850, Denver finished in third with a 193.850 and Arizona was fifth at 192.925.
A week off from competition has helped the Sooners to fine tune routines and focus on the rest of the season. Coach Nunno believes he has one of his most talented teams in his five-year tenure as coach.
“We have a little bit of everything on this team,” Nunno said. “We have a good balance of talent and leadership. This is the most depth we have ever had. I’m excited about where our season could end up.”
The 2006 Sooner squad includes five new faces looking to make significant contributions. Lori Winn, Kiara Redmond, Haley DeProspero and Ashley Jackson are all newcomers. Winn, DeProspero and Jackson all competed in their first meets as Sooners at the Cancun Classic.
Oklahoma has faced the Thunderbirds the past two seasons in Cedar City, Utah. Last year OU defeated Southern Utah 196.025-195.925 and in 2004, OU won 197.100-196.175.
Scouting Southern Utah
The Southern Utah Thunderbirds will be competing in their first meet of the season. The T-Birds are coming off one of their best seasons ever. SU posted a 9-8 dual record, recorded four wins over teams seeded among the top-18, finished the season ranked 22nd (its highest regular-season finish ever), and posted a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 195.155, the third best in the history of the school.
SU finished second in the Western Athletics Conference and earned a fifth place finish at the North Central NCAA Regional. The Thunderbirds return seven letterwinners and lost three from 2005. This is the 15th season for head coach Scott Bauman who holds a 102-136 career record.
Seniors Nicole Cummings, Sheena Shaw and Rachel Tanner, along with juniors Jess Langley, Leah Sakhitab and Ashley Sharpe are the bulk of the SU team. The group of six gymnasts will look to fill the voids left from the loss of three seniors to graduation from last year’s team.
Cancun Classic Recap
The No. 10 Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team finished fourth in the third annual Cancun Gymnastics Classic held at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico. The Sooners finished with a score of 193.325 in a meet that included five teams ranked in the top 25.
Defending national champion and No. 1 Georgia scored 195.70 to take first-place honors in the meet, No. 9 Stanford was second at 194.850, No. 21 Denver was third at 193.850 and No. 17 Arizona was fifth at 192.925.
“We started the meet on beam and had some difficulties,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “But as the night went on the girls started to relax more and began performing much better. We came back and had solid routines on vault.”
After a dismal start on beam the Sooners rebounded with a solid performance on vault. Juniors Tiffany Willin and Brittney Schumann led the way as OU earned a score of 48.750. Willin finished in fourth place with a 9.850 and Schumann was right behind her in fifth with a 9.825.
Freshmen Haley DeProspero and Ashley Jackson were impressive in their first meet as Sooners. DeProspero finished in a tie for fifth on beam with a 9.725 score and tallied a 9.775 mark on vault. Jackson had a solid routine on floor with a 9.750 score and a 9.725 on vault.
“We have a great team that just needs some polishing,” said Nunno. “We are obviously not happy with the outcome tonight and we need to correct some things. But this is a team that will only continue to improve.”
Lori Winn also competed in her first meet as a Sooner. Winn finished in seventh place in the all-around posting scores of 9.775 (bars), 9.675 (beam), 9.60 (floor) and 9.575 (vault).
Georgia’s Katie Heenan won the all-around with a 39.250 score. The Bulldogs also set a meet record with a 48.925 team score on vault. The previous record was 48.850 set in 2005 by Oklahoma.
About the Rankings
Unlike other collegiate athletic rankings, collegiate gymnastic rankings are not based on wins and losses or votes. Gymnastics teams are ranked by their meet scores alone. Teams are ranked by their highest score from Jan. 9-16. From Jan. 9-Feb. 16, teams will be ranked by their total season average. Starting Feb. 20, teams and gymnasts will be ranked by a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). An RQS is based on a team’s top six regular-season scores, with three scores coming from away meets. To obtain the RQS, the team’s or gymnast’s highest score is dropped and the remaining five scores are averaged.
The Big 12 Conference
Once again the Big 12 will be one of the toughest conferences in the country. All four teams are currently ranked in the top 25. Nebraska leads the way at No. 6 (195.675), followed by No. 11 Missouri (195.100), No. 10 Iowa State (194.100) and No. 16 Oklahoma (193.325). Nebraska, Iowa State and Missouri all opened up the their 2006 seasons at the Super Six Challenge in Baton Rouge, La., on Jan. 6. The Huskers posted a score of 194.10 to finish second to No. 1 Alabama (194.25). Iowa State finished third and Missouri finished in sixth place.
Freshmen Haley DeProspero and Ashley Jackson competed in their first meet as Sooners at the Cancun Classic. DeProspero earned a score of 38.450 in the all-around and finished in 11th place. She recorded scores of 9.775 (vault), 9.725 (bars), 9.725 (beam) and 9.225 (floor). Jackson recorded a solid 9.725 on vault and 9.750 on floor.
Oklahoma will be without junior Ashley Cooney after she suffered a knee injury during practice before the Cancun Classic meet. She is expected to start competing again in February.
Redmond Joins Team
Sophomore Kiara Redmond is a Cal State Fullerton College transfer from Whittier, Calif. She enrolled at OU last week and is now eligible to compete for the Sooners. Coach Nunno expects her to be competing for the team in a month.
Cancun Classic Notes
Junior Tiffany Willin performed a career-high 9.8 on the uneven bars defeating her previous high of 9.775 set last season. Her 9.8 was good enough for a fourth-place tie with Katie Heenan (Georgia) and Aubrey Taylor (Arizona). Willin also recorded a 9.85 on vault helping lead the Sooners to a 48.75 team score. Her career high on vault is 9.925 set in 2005 against Texas Woman’s University.
Brittney Schumann had the best finish for the Sooners at the Cancun Classic. The junior from McQueeney, Texas, recorded a 9.825 on bars and finished in third place. She also performed a solid routine on vault with a score of 9.825 and a tie for fifth place.
Lori Winn competed in her first meet as a Sooner. The junior from Oklahoma City finished in seventh place in the all-around with a score of 38.625. As a gymnast for UCLA in 2004, Winn competed in the all-around seven times with a season average of 39.075 and a career-high of 39.425.
Nunno Signs World Champion
The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team was proud to announce the signing of World Champion Hollie Vise to a National Letter of Intent.
Vise is arguably the best recruit head coach Steve Nuuno has signed in his five-year tenure at Oklahoma. She is the current World Champion on uneven bars and has been an International Elite gymnast since the age of 11.
“It’s a great day for Oklahoma women’s gymnastics,” said coach Nunno. “Hollie will bring world championship experience to our team next year. We have never had an athlete come in that has had a World Champion title.”
Along with earning World Champion honors, Vise was also the National Champion on balance beam and silver medalist in the all-around in 2003. In 2002, she was the National Champion in both the uneven bars and balance beam and a silver medalist in the all-around. In 2001, she earned a silver medal in the all-around and was National Champion on uneven bars.
“Hollie will bring OU gymnastics to a whole new level and a push for a national title in the future,” said coach Nunno. “She not only brings great accolades as a gymnast, but she will also excel in the classroom. We expect her to be a tremendous student-athlete.”
Vise is a member of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy and was on the first-place 2003 World Champion team. She is the daughter of Eddie and LeeAnn Vise and has three brothers: Brandon (22), Brad (17) and Weston (15). She started gymnastics when she was three and enjoys shopping, watching movies and riding her bike.
Hollie’s grandfather, Burton Gilliam, is an actor and has appeared in many movies and tv shows: Paper Moon, Blazing Saddles, Back to the Future, Charlie’s Angels, Alice Evening Show and is the Pace Picante man. For more information on Vise you can visit her personal Web Site at Hollievise.com.
Oklahoma native Shannon Miller was the last gymnast Nunno has coached with World Champion honors. He helped lead Miller to two world championship titles, nine world championship medals and seven Olympic medals, including a pair of golds at the 1996 Olympic Games.
Big 12 Gymnastics 10th Anniversary Team
The Big 12 is selecting 10th anniversary teams for its sports in 2005-06 in celebration of its 10th Anniversary season. The Gymnastics team will be selected by the league’s head coaches and announced on March 22. In order to be eligible for the ballot, gymnasts must have won an event title at a conference championship.
Big 12 Gymnastics Championship
The 2006 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship will be Sat., March 25, at 7 p.m. in Lincoln, Neb., at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Tickets are available through the Nebraska ticket office.
Big 12 Gymnastics Action
No. 4 Nebraska: at Utah
No. 8 Missouri: at Centenary
No. 13 Iowa State: bye
No. 18 Oklahoma: vs. Southern Utah
OU Voted No. 10 in Preseason Poll
The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team was voted No. 10 in the GymInfo Coaches’ preseason top-25 poll. It marks the highest preseason ranking in the program’s history and one spot better than last year’s No. 11 ranking.
“I am very proud of the student athletes of the past five years who have laid the foundation for this year’s team,” said head coach Steve Nunno. “I am also humbled by the votes of the other coaches around the country who believe the University of Oklahoma is now a top-ten program and among the great teams in NCAA women’s gymnastics. I have every confidence that this year’s squad will be our best ever.”
2006 Team Captains
Women’s gymnastics head coach Steve Nunno announced his team captains for the 2006 season. Kristen Cox and Tiffany Willin will take the leadership role and perform as captains for the team.
Steve Nunno on Cox and Willin:
“I think it will be a fun year with them as captains.” “They will provide great leadership and motivation for the team.”
“Kristen is my first recruit I have coached for all four years. She is a very popular person with team members. It is only right that she finishes out her collegiate career as a team captain. She brings commitment to the team and has a great personality to lead us this upcoming year.”
“Tiffany is one of two First Team All-Americans we have had in the past 15 years. It is only fitting that sh