April 4, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The ninth-ranked OU women’s gymnastics squad earned its sixth consecutive NCAA Championships appearance, tallying a 196.600 team score en route to runner-up honors at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
It was Oklahoma’s highest team tally at a regional since winning the 2004 NCAA West Regional in Corvallis, Ore., with a team result of 197.100.
No. 3 Alabama, the host squad of the event, posted a team score of 197.000 for the regional title, as the two squads advance to the 2009 NCAA Championships in Lincoln, Neb., on April 16-18. Missouri (196.000),
Central Michigan (194.950), New Hampshire (192.950) and Maryland (192.725) rounded out the six-team field.
“I’m very encouraged with our performance tonight as we came in and gave Alabama all they wanted,” said OU head coach K.J. Kindler. “We hit 24-of-24 routines and had our best floor and vault team performances of the season by far. Our showing on beam was not characteristic of how strong I believe we can be on that event, but in the end it’s a big improvement overall over our Big 12 Championships meet.”
Oklahoma won the team title on vault, spurred on by Melanie Root’s event-title sharing 9.9, while the Sooners shared floor honors with the Crimson Tide after a season-best-tying 49.325.
Opening the meet on bars, the Sooners posted a team tally of 49.125 for the early lead through one rotation. Hollie Vise tallied a team-high 9.9 from the anchor position, while Big 12 bars co-champion’s Megan Ferguson and Ashley Jackson had routines of 9.85 and 9.825, respectively. Haley DeProspero led off with a 9.75, before Root and Jessica Kinder followed in the second and third spots with a pair of 9.775s.
The Sooners held a 0.2 point advantage over third-seeded Missouri (48.925 – floor), while No. 1 seed Alabama started the meet on a bye.
Jackson opened for Oklahoma on beam with a 9.8 before Kristin Smith scored a 9.675. Natalie Ratcliff and Ferguson countered with respective routines of 9.8 and 9.85, while DeProspero anchored the lineup with a 9.85 after a 9.6 from Vise in the fifth position. After a team tally of 48.975 on beam, OU held a 98.100-97.650 advantage over Missouri, as the two squads were the only teams in the six-team field without a bye in one of the first two rotations.
Trailing Alabama 98.425-98.100 after a bye in the third rotation, Oklahoma tallied a season-high-tying 49.325 on floor in earning a share of the event title with the Crimson Tide. OU counted no score lower than 9.85, as Jackie Flanery, Jackson and Smith closed the rotation with back-to-back-to-back 9.875s. Sara Stone led off with a career-high 9.85, besting her previous personal high of 9.825 set in this same building on March 13, while Kinder matched Stone’s score.
Oklahoma clinched its sixth-straight NCAA Championships berth with an event-winning 49.175 on vault. Root posted her second-straight vault score of 9.9 inside Coleman Coliseum (career high), as Jackson was right on her heels with a 9.85. DeProspero and Stone both tallied 9.825s, while Ratcliff closed with a 9.775.
The Sooners had a bye in the final rotation and were forced to watch host-squad Alabama on beam to see if they would finish first or second at the Northeast Regional. After a Crimson Tide fall in the first position, Alabama closed with an event-winning 49.350 for the regional title.
“To pull out the scores we did on vault and floor in a regional championships is very encouraging and I am looking forward to even better things at NCAA’s,” added Kindler. “Our goal is to be in action on the last night of competition in the team finals and I believe we’re on track to make a run for it.”
Jackson (39.350) and Deprospero (39.225) finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the all-around competition.