The OU women’s gymnastics team is off to one of its best starts in the program’s history. In its third season, the Inside Glimpse takes readers behind the scenes of the women’s gymnastics team as it defends its 2004 Big 12 Championship title. Written by assistant coaches Nilson Savage and Jenny Rowland, Inside Glimpse provides a unique vision inside the workings of an NCAA Division I collegiate athletics program.
Inside Glimpse No. 1
Jan. 26, 2005
Our team started the season with a Bang in the 2005 Cancun Gymnastics Classic in Mexico. The Sooners finished on top with a team score of 195.900, defeating BYU, George Washington University and Gustavus Adolphus.
The team showed a lot of poise and a contagious energy from the start.
Despite having to count a fall on balance beam the Sooners showed a lot of improvement in their skill level. Erin Labarr and Ashley Cooney both stuck their double backs dismounts and set the pace for what will be a memorable season on this event.
The girls were so excited to show off their floor routines. Freshman Jessica Kinder opened up with a latin song and dance routine to get the crowd of almost 500 people fired up. After that spectacular start, her teammates cruised through their routines with stellar performances. The floor exercise generated a lot of momentum going to vault and our gymnasts proved they were ready for it. Big 12 and regional champion Cooney executed a great Yurchenko layout to win the event.
Going to bars the team knew we could not count any falls if we wanted to be crowned the Cancun Classic Champions. The team came through with a great exhibition to seal the victory. The highlight of the competition was the perfect score, 10.0, Labarr received on the uneven bars. Erin is an All-American in this event and her routine that night was flawless. Erin overcame a lot of adversity during the Christmas break and we could not have written a better script for her. She is not only an outstanding athlete but a great human being. CONGRATULATIONS ERIN!!
Next stop, Denton, Texas!
A short hour and a half bus trip to Gainsville, Texas, is our favorite stop along the way. The outlet shops were packed with OU gymnasts for about 30 minutes before getting a quick bite to eat. The girls left with several bags and had smiles from ear to ear! Having all 17 members of our team present at Texas Woman’s University was a nice treat and the team showed their appreciation with great spirit throughout the competition.
The Sooners started on their most consistent event, the uneven bars. The bar team proved they were determined to start this competition in good fashion with 5/6 hit bar routines. Though a bit conservative here and there, we pulled off a great team score of a 48.725.
Vault was a great step in the right direction for the Sooners with the performance of five 10.0 vaults. Freshman Jessica Kinder completed a nice Yurchenko layout full for the first time, scoring a solid 9.725. Along with a variety of vaults including a Tsuk layout 1/1 from All-American Tiffany Willin (9.8) and Yurchenko layout 1/1 from junior Kristen Cox (9.825), the standout of the evening was a beautiful Yurchenko from Cooney for a 9.9.
Floor exercise was the highest scoring event of the evening with a even 49.0. Four of the 6 competitors ended with D dismounts ranging from one front 1/1 front, two double backs and one two and a half twist. It was exciting to see the Soonerss performing on this event. They are starting to leave their inhibitions behind and have fun performing their routines in front of a crowd!
Balance beam was the last event and proved to be the Sooners nemesis. Junior Tara Anderson started with a fall that injured her knee. She was unable to finish her routine. After Tara’s fall, the beam squad was quite shook up with the incident that took her completely out of the meet. The end result had the team counting a total of four falls. Disappointed, but not discouraged, the Sooners emerged victorious over TWU with a final score of 193.6 to a 188.65 the sign of true champions.
Our home opener this past weekend against Kent State was a great showcase of what the Sooners are all about consistency, consistency, consistency. The team was ready to debut their new routines to the home crowd and get them involved right from the beginning. Our vault landings were not as sharp as we expected, but we had almost everyone on the line up competing a 10.0 start value vault. Cooney once again proved that she is one of the best vaulters in the country, winning the event with a 9.8.
On the uneven bars we had to shuffle the lineup because of the absence of Anderson. Freshman Caitlin Hinkis replaced her and scored an impressive 9.7 in her first collegiate competition. Kristen Cox delivered a awesome routine, dismounting a stuck double layout full out. Despite a fall from Elizabeth Tandy the team picked up the slack and executed really well hitting five routines to keep the momentum going to beam.
A lot of pressure was on the beam squad. We had a monkey on our back after counting five falls at our last meet. Jessica Kinder came up big by opening her first collegiate performance on the balance beam with a hit set. That gave the team the confidence they needed to relax and do what they do in practices. We had five hit sets and counted no falls for the first time this year on balance beam.
The stage was set for floor and everyone was pumped and ready to go out and perform. The whole team was involved and enthusiastic about their teammates on the floor. Cooney ended up winning the all-around, vault, bars and floor. LaBarr took the title on the balance beam.
We have a lot of work to do, but this team is coming to its own and this will be a great season for the Oklahoma Sooners!