Feb. 22, 2008
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- It came down to the final gymnast, but the sixth-ranked OU women's gymnastics team (14-0) escaped Columbia, Mo., with a 196.075-195.750 victory over No. 13 Missouri on Friday inside the Hearnes Center on the MU campus. The Sooners won event titles on vault, bars and floor -- moving their season total to 27 event honors.
OU was without the services of all-arounder Ashley Jackson who injured her knee during vault warm-up's. Jackson will undergo a full evaluation once the Sooners return to Norman.
With Friday's victory, the Sooners are off to their best start to a season in program history. OU's win over the Tigers marked its 14th-straight victory in 2008, besting the start of the 1985 Oklahoma squad that went 13-0 before placing 10th at the NCAA Championships.
"It was a very exuberant crowd in here tonight," said head coach K.J. Kindler. "Anytime you can win on the road against such a quality opponent is great. Missouri has done a great job this year and they looked excellent today. We're proud of our girls, it's tough to go on the road and win in a place like this."
With the win, the Sooners are the regular season Big 12 champs, sweeping all conference foes in 2008.
Opening the night on bars, Mary Mantle led off with a 9.750 for the Sooners, filling in for the injured Jackson. The score marked a season high for the Bellvue, Colo., sophomore who was competing on bars for just the second time in `08. Also in her second bars line-up of the year, after sitting out the first six events due to injury, Caitlin Hinkis followed with a 9.8. Hollie Vise scored a 9.85, finishing third, before a Stephanie LoPiccolo fall in the fourth spot. Anchoring the Oklahoma line-up was Kiara Redmond-Sturms who won her first event title of the night with a 9.9 as the Sooners led 49.025-48.800 after one rotation.
Moving to vault, the Sooners won their second event title of the night, posting a team score of 48.925. Sophomore Jackie Flanery scored a 9.775 in the first spot before DeProspero followed with a 9.7. Oklahoma received a 9.750 from Jessica Kinder, a 9.7 from DeProspero and a 9.575 from Natalie Ratcliff before Mary Mantle and Redmond-Sturms posted matching 9.85s in finishing second.
Kristin Smith led off for Oklahoma on floor with 9.775. Kinder followed with a 9.8 before a DeProspero fall in the third spot. Flanery got the Sooners back on track with a 9.85 before Redmond-Sturms posted a 9.9 in tying for the event title. The Los Angeles, Calif., native entered tonight's competition ranked No. 2 in the nation on the apparatus. Seeing her first action since the third week of the season, freshman Melanie Root scored a career-high 9.75 as the Sooners took a narrow 146.975-146.825 lead into the final rotation.
Seeing her first beam action this season, Kinder opened for the Sooners with a career-high tying 9.8. Redmond-Sturms followed Kinder with a score of 9.65, before Smith's solid 9.8. LoPiccolo, a senior All-American, rebounded from her fall on bars in posting a season-high tying 9.9. Vise posted a 9.65 before DeProspero showed why she is the NCAA's second-ranked individual on beam, tying LoPiccolo for event honors with her 9.9, and clinching the Oklahoma victory.
"We had to have a lot of people step up with Ashley going out in warm-up's," said Kindler. "All of them came in and did their jobs and stuck their routines, which is what they are trained to do. We're really proud of their efforts, as it looks like they might have to do it the rest of the season. It's a role they will have to learn how to play."
The win halted a three-match win streak for Mizzou, who entered the meet ranked No. 13, as OU has won 27 of its last 28 regular-season matchup's dating back to Jan. 19, 2007. The Sooners last regular season defeat was to Stanford on March 9, 2007 in Palo Alto, Calif.
"Beam was an area of focus for us this week and to come out and end the meet hitting seven-of-seven routines is huge," said Kindler.
Oklahoma returns home for a rematch with Texas Woman's University on Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. (CST) inside the Lloyd Noble Center. OU defeated the Pioneers by a score of 196.450-192.800 on January 19 in Denton, Texas. Billed as "Flip for a Cure" night, the meet is OU's breast cancer awareness event. OU gymnasts will wear pink leotards for the event and they encourage everyone in attendance to wear pink as well. The first 350 fans through the gates will receive their choice of a free pair of pink crocs or a free pink "Flip for a Cure" T-shirt while supplies last.
"We hope to get a great crowd to come out and support such a great cause," said Kindler. "It will be an exciting meet and we look to carry tonight's momentum into getting better week in and week out."
To order tickets, please call (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU or stop by the OU Athletics Ticket Office, located on the plaza level of the Asp Avenue Parking Facility, immediately west of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the event at the Lloyd Noble Center box office. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.
For group ticket information, please call (405) 325-7513. Group tickets must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance.