OU Opens Big 12 Action at Nebraska

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 05, 2009


 No. 7 Oklahoma (2-2) at No. 12 Nebraska (3-1) 
 Date & Time  Sunday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. CST
 Location  Lincoln, Neb. | Bob Devaney Center
 Tickets  Nebraska Ticket Office | 1-800-8BIGRED

 Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day

 Live Scoring  Webcast (Must subscribe to HuskerNside) | Live Scores
 Directions  Campus Directory
 Official Website  Oklahoma | Nebraska
 Meet Info  Meet Notes (PDF) SoonersHuskers

Ranked seventh in the latest poll, the OU women’s gymnastics squad travels to No. 12 Nebraska for its Big 12 opener on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. (CT), inside the Bob Devaney Center. The Sooners are coming off of a 196.500-195.675 victory over No. 21 Minnesota on Jan. 30 in OU’s “Beauty and the Beast” spectacular. 

OU won three events against the Golden Gophers, as Oklahoma gymnasts also took home individual titles on vault (Melanie Root - 9.875), bars (Hollie Vise - 9.875) and floor (Jackie Flanery, Haley DeProspero and Ashley Jackson - 9.85 for all three).  Root’s career-high-tying vault against Minnesota resulted in the first event title for the Cartersville, Ga., native.

Oklahoma holds the top spot in the Big 12 on all four events and the Sooners are the only conference squad to have a gymnast in the top two of the individual apparatus rankings on all four events.  

The Sooners defeated NU in both meetings last year, by an average margin of 0.6 of a point, en route to their first Big 12 title since 2004.

After losing its season opener at Denver on Jan. 10, Nebraska has reeled off three consecutive wins including a pair of Big 12 road victories over conference foes Iowa State and Missouri on back-to-back weekends. 

The Huskers enter Sunday’s meet off of a 195.325 - 194.625 victory over Penn State in their home opener on Jan. 30.  Nebraska took home event titles on bars and beam against PSU and hit the 49-mark on floor.  

No. 12 NU ranks 16th nationally on vault (48.85), 21st on uneven bars (48.587), 12th on beam (48.812) and ninth on floor (48.937). Individually, junior Kylie Stone ranks third in the NCAA on floor (9.881), while senior Tricia Woo stands 10th in the country on beam with a season average of 9.862 for the reigning Big 12 co-champion on the apparatus. 

 Sooner to Watch 

Melanie Root | So. | VT | UB 
The reigning co-Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week tied career-highs on vault (9.875) and bars (9.825) against No. 21 Minnesota en route to her first collegiate event title (vault). 

Her bars score was higher than all but one of Minnesota’s competitors, as Root led Oklahoma to event wins on vault and bars. 


Oklahoma has won 33 of its last 36 regular-season matchups dating back to Jan. 19, 2007.  Prior to OU’s defeat against SEC squad’s Arkansas and Florida, the Sooners’ last regular season loss was to Stanford on March 9, 2007 in Palo Alto, Calif.

• MEET INFO              
A webcast and live scoring of Sunday’s meet will be available at Nebraska’s official website - www.Huskers.com.  Video is only for HuskersNside subscribers.  Live scoring will be provided free of charge on the site as well. Following the meet, a complete recap, photos, video highlights and official scores can be found on www.SoonerSports.com, the official website of OU women’s gymnastics.

New for the 2009 season at Oklahoma home meets is OU's version of Name that Tune. After each rotation, a fan is selected from the crowd to try and guess the name of a song being performed by one of the gymnasts.  If they guess correctly, they are rewarded with an OU prize pack.  Below are a few highlights from the first two meets:

Candace Cindell | Jessica Kinder | Kristin Smith 

The Sooners have reeled off an 11-1 record versus Big 12 opponents since the start of the 2007 schedule, including a
perfect 6-0 mark during regular season action.  OU’s last regular season defeat to a conference opponent
was Feb. 10, 2006, against Iowa State.

Friday, Feb. 6:
        Missouri vs. SEMO (6:30 PM)
Saturday, Feb. 7:
        Iowa State at Minnesota (6 PM)
Sunday, Feb. 8:
        OU at Nebraska (2 PM)

• ROOT GARNERS FIRST CONFERENCE HONOR                                                    
University of Oklahoma gymnast Melanie Root was named co-Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week by the conference office on Feb. 3.  It’s the first conference honor for the Cartersville, Ga., native who tied career highs on vault (9.875) and bars (9.825) against No. 21 Minnesota en route to her first collegiate event title (vault).

Root shared the Big 12 accolade with Iowa State’s Ceilia Maccani, who scored a career-best 9.85 on beam and a 9.75 on vault in the Cyclone’s loss to Michigan.

On the year, 50 percent of Root’s routines (four-of-eight) have gone for a score of 9.8 or better.

Of the 28 routines that have been competed by gymnasts making their first collegiate appearance on the respective apparatus in 2009, a remarkable 17 (.607) have gone for a 9.8 or better.  Their presence was felt in full force against Minnesota, as six of their seven routines were scored at a 9.8 or greater. 

• STILL ON TOP                                                                                                                                           
OU’s team tally of 197.175 at TWU on Jan. 17 still shares the top mark in the NCAA this season.  Only Georgia, winner of the last four NCAA Championships, has equaled the Sooners’ score.  Oklahoma is one of only four squads to eclipse the 197-point barrier on the year (Georgia - 197.175, UCLA -197.125, Utah-197.050).  All three of those squads reached the NCAA Super Six in 2008.

• THREE IN A ROW FOR VISE                                                           
Hollie Vise won her third-straight bars title with a 9.875 against Minnesota on Jan. 30.  Also picking up a win on beam against the Golden Gophers (shared with teammate Megan Ferguson), Vise has tallied five event wins during 2009 action.  The Dallas, Texas., native is well ahead of her pace last season, when she claimed seven titles throughout the year (four on bars, three on beam). 

• AMONG THE REGIONS BEST                                                                                                                      
The Sooners (196.094) are one of only two squads in the South Central Region to hold an average above 196.000 through the first month of the 2009 season (Arkansas is the other at 196.320).  The two squads hold a clear advantage over the other 10 region foes as Nebraska (195.187) is the only other team with an average above 195.000. 

• WINNING AS A TEAM                                                                                                                                  
The Sooners are the only squad in the current top-10 rankings that have not had a pair of all-arounders in at least two meets of the 2009 season.  Oklahoma has relied on large number of event specialists, counting scores from 10 different gymnasts against Minnesota.  OU’s season opener at Florida was the only time this season that it has had two all-arounders in the lineup (Ashley Jackson and Jessica Kinder).

• FRESHMEN PHENOMS                                                                                                                         
OU’s Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone have either led the Sooners outright or tied for the team event high on five occasions already this season.  Ferguson paced the Sooners on bars against Florida (9.85), tied for the beam crown against TWU (9.925) and shared top beam honors for the Sooners against Minnesota (9.875), while Stone’s 9.875 on vault against Arkansas was a team high a week after sharing vault honors with Ashley Jackson against TWU.    

• ROAD SWEET ROAD                                                                                                                            
Posting an NCAA-best 197.175 in Denton, Texas, on Jan. 17, it appears that the road could be kind to the Sooners again this season.  Three of Oklahoma’s top four scores last season, including a season-best-tying 196.750 at Arkansas, came on the road for the Sooners. Going further, five of OU’s top seven scores in 2008 were outside of Norman.

• CONFERENCE ALL STARS                                                                                                                            
Oklahoma is the only Big 12 squad to have a gymnast in the top two spots in the latest Troester rankings on all four events.  Ashley Jackson and Sara Stone rank second and third, respectively, in the conference on vault, while Hollie Vise and Megan Ferguson stand one-two on bars.  On beam, Natalie Ratcliff is ranked second, while Ashley Jackson holds the second spot in the conference on floor.

• CAREER HIGHS FOR A PAIR                                                                                                                            
Along with Melanie Root’s career-high 9.875 on vault, Jessica Kinder posted a personal-best 9.8 on bars against the Golden Gophers.  Kinder, a fifth-year senior in the Oklahoma program, just started competing on bars in 2009.  The Kansas City, Mo., native has posted scores of 9.7 or better all three times on the appartus.  

Roster | Schedule | Notes | 2009 Poster | 2009 Media Guide

• LAST TIME IN LINCOLN                                                                                                                    
Senior Brittney Koncak-Schumann claimed her second all-around title of the young season, and the No. 8 OU women’s gymnastics team upset sixth-ranked Nebraska, 195.075-195.050, on Feb. 2, 2007, in the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

The Sooners had not defeated their Big 12 conference rivals since the 2004 Big 12 Championships.

“It’s amazing,” Koncak-Schumann said after the meet.  “It’s the best feeling to know how hard we worked and to really come together as a team.  It was a true team effort and I’m so proud.”

OU trailed by 0.4 after two rotations, but cut the Nebraska lead to 0.1 on the floor exercise.  The Sooners grabbed the lead on their last event, balance beam, with a 48.575 total, while the Huskers turned in their lowest event score of the night with a 48.450 on floor.

• HOW THE TEAMS STACK UP                                                                 
The Sooners lead the Big 12 on all four events, while Nebraska ranks third on vault, fourth on bars, third on beam and second on floor. If it should come down to the final event - OU has posted a final-event tally of 49.225 on beam in road competitions, while Nebraska scored a 49.175 on floor in their only home meet. 

• PROTECTING THE HOUSE                                                                               
The Sooners are 14-1 in their last 15 regular season home meets.  Before Oklahoma’s loss to Arkansas, its last home defeat before the postseason came at the hands of an Iowa State team that was coached by
K.J. Kindler - OU’s current head coach.

• NATALIE’S NIGHT                                                                                                             
While many Sooners had trouble on beam against the Razorbacks, the same cannot be said of Natalie Ratcliff.  The sophomore posted a 9.825 on the apparatus in just her second collegiate beam routine - a week after posting  a 9.875 on the event in her beam debut at TWU.   Ratcliff also posted a career-high 9.825 on vault for the Sooners against Arkansas.

• RAISING THE BAR                                                                             
OU junior Hollie Vise unveiled a double-front dismount on bars for the first time in collegiate competition against Arkansas. The 2008 Big 12 bars champion posted an event-winning tally of 9.875 against the Razorbacks, her second straight event win on the apparatus.

• BUST OUT THE BROOMS                                                                            
OU swept all individual and event titles against TWU, marking the first time this season that it had won every crown of the dual meet.  The Sooners swept all four team event titles seven times a year ago. 

• BARS STARS                                                                                                                                          
The Sooner’ bars lineup at Florida included three gymnasts making their collegiate debut on the apparatus (Megan Ferguson, Jessica Kinder and Melanie Root).  The trio went three-for-three including a second-place finish by Ferguson, who scored a 9.85 in her first collegiate routine.  Kinder hit a 9.725, while Root finished with a 9.625.

• NATASHA KELLEY TO REDSHIRT                                                   
OU freshman Natasha Kelley will redshirt the 2009 season after an achilles injury sustained during the fall training period.  The Katy, Texas, native is Oklahoma’s most heralded recruit since NCAA Champion Kelly Garrison after spending 2004-2008 as a member of the US Elite National Team.  The ‘05 USA Elite Junior National champion (all-around, beam, floor) was also the silver medalist at the 2006 World Championships and ‘07 American Cup.
• MEET THE NEWCOMERS                                                                       
OU gymnastics fans also will have their first chance to see OU’s freshman class of Megan Ferguson, Natasha Kelley, Sara Stone and Hailey Wagner in collegiate action at the Lloyd Noble Center in 2009.  While Kelley is redshirting the year after an injury during the fall, Ferguson and Stone are inked into the tentative starting lineup against Minnesota.

Baylor transfer Julie Kramer also joined the Sooners over the summer and will provide depth to the vault lineup.

OU’s 2008-09 recruiting class of Ferguson, Kelley, Stone and Wagner was the sixth-best group in the country, according to a recent CollegeGymFans.com Top-10 Women’s Recruiting Classes poll.  The Sooners ranked behind No. 1 UCLA and ‘08 NCAA Championships Super Six squads Georgia (second), Alabama (third), Florida (fourth) and Stanford (fifth).  Oklahoma was the only squad from the Big 12 Conference and South Central Region named to the list.

• THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR                                                                    
The Sooners welcome back 18 routines from last season’s 2008 NCAA Championships. Below is an event-by-event breakdown of returners for the 2009 year that competed in Athens, Ga.

Vault (5): Flanery, Kinder, Jackson, DeProspero, Mantle
Bars (4): Mantle, Jackson, DeProspero, Vise
Beam (4): Kinder, Jackson, Vise, DeProspero
Floor (5): Smith, Kinder, DeProspero, Jackson, Flanery

• BOWLING INTO THE NEW YEAR                                                                 
Although the gymnastics schedule was set months before the bowl lineups were announced, the OU gymnastics squad opened up its season slate with Oklahoma’s football bowl opponent for the second straight year.   The Sooners squared off with the Gator gymnastics squad on Jan. 9, less than 24 hours after meeting Florida in the BCS National Championship game.  Oklahoma and West Virginia met in the second session of the Cancun Classic in their season opener a year ago, a day after OU’s football squad faced the Mountaineers in the Fiesta Bowl. 



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