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OU Gymnastics Hosts Top-10 Clash on Friday
January 07, 2010

Jan. 7, 2010

 


 No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Florida  
 Date  Friday, Jan. 8 | 7 p.m. (CT)
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center (12,000)
 Tickets  Order Online | (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-GoOU
 Live Stats  Oklahoma vs. Florida
 Online  Webcast w/ commentary for All-Access subscribers | Join
 Meet Notes  Sooners | Gators

NORMAN, Okla. - The ninth-ranked University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics team opens its 2010 campaign at home on Friday against No. 4 Florida at the Lloyd Noble Center at 7 p.m. (CT).  The squads are opening the season with a dual meet against each other for the second straight year, as the Sooners look to avenge last year's 196.50-195.075 loss in Gainesville, Fla., against the Gators. 

Friday marks the fourth meeting between the schools in the past three seasons.  OU and UF were paired in the first qualifying session of the past two NCAA Championships, with Florida prevailing in both of those contests.

Florida leads the all-time series by a 12-2 margin.  OU's last victory against the Gators came in 2002, as the Sooners won 195.475-193.925 in the only meeting between the two squads in Norman.  Oklahoma also defeated the Gators at the 1989 NCAA Championships qualifying session.   

Friday marks the first time Oklahoma has opened its season at home since facing Centenary in the 1999 season opener at McCasland Field House.  OU is 3-2 in season openers under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler, with all three victories coming at the 2008 Cancun Classic (Iowa, West Virginia, UW-Whitewater).   OU dropped a 195.700-194.500 decision at Alabama in Kindler's Oklahoma debut in 2007.

Oklahoma Roster | 2010 Schedule and Results | Complete 2010 Preview with Event Breakdowns

ON THE WEB:
OU's home meets can be seen via a live web cast with commentary from Sooner All-American Kasie Tamayo and Ashley Alden on Oklahoma All-Access, SoonerSports.com's premium site.  Live stats for all meets can be found on SoonerSports.com.

TICKETS:
For tickets, call (405) 325-2424 or toll-free (800) 456-GoOU.  Tickets can also be purchased at the main ticket office in Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium or at the Lloyd Noble Center on the day of the meet.

PROMOTIONS:
Friday's meet promotion is Family Night. The first 250 fans get an OU Gymnastics T-shirt.  Families can sign up to win one of several great prizes given away after the meet.  All fans get a free 2010 schedule poster, which the team will sign after the meet.

WEEKEND ACTION AROUND THE BIG 12 
Friday, Jan. 8:
Ohio State @ Missouri - 6:30 p.m. (CT) 
Wisconsin-Stout @ Iowa State - 7 p.m. (CT)      
Nebraska @ Washington - 9 p.m. (CT)    


MEET NOTES:

HOME SWEET HOME
The Sooners are 22-2 in Norman under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.  OU's only two losses at home have come against SEC opponents in Alabama and Arkansas.  Top-seeded Alabama knocked off the Sooners en route to the NCAA South Central Regional title in 2008, while OU's loss to Arkansas in the 2009 home opener marked Oklahoma's only regular season home defeat in Kindler's tenure.      

Among the 55 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford and West Virginia.   

SEC FAMILIARITY

 
 SOONER TO WATCH

Natasha Kelley | R-Fr. | UB-BB 
 
One of OU's most heralded recruits in program history as a world championship team member and Olympic hopeful, Kelley was forced to redshirt last season after an Achilles tear during the fall training period.

The Katy, Texas, native returned to form this past summer, but suffered another injury with an ACL tear (100%) in November. Kelley has elected to bypass surgery and is slated to compete on bars and beam in Friday's season opener.

   

OU will face four teams from the Southeastern Conference during the regular season, including two straight to begin the season with the Sooners traveling to Auburn (Jan. 15) after their home opener against Florida.  Oklahoma faces Alabama in Norman on March 5, in the eighth meeting between the two programs over the last four seasons, before travelling to Arkansas on March 19. 

CLOSER LOOK AT THE MATCH UP
OU returns just 14 routines from the 2009 NCAA Championships, the fewest of any team ranked in the 2010 GymInfo preseason coaches poll. Florida will also break in some newcomers immediately, as the Gators must replace eight  routines from last year's championship. 

The Sooners welcome back sophomore All-American Megan Ferguson, while UF's returning gymnasts with All-America honors include Amanda Castillo (seven-time All-American), Maranda Smith (three All-America honors), Alicia Goodwin and Elizabeth Mahlich.

REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
Oklahoma is 41-6 in the regular season under K.J. Kindler.  The Sooners went 10-4 during the regular season in 2009, with three of those losses coming on the road (Florida, Nebraska and Alabama).   

TWO TOP COACHES
OU's season opener will feature two recent recipients of the National Association of Collegiate
Gymnastics Coaches (NACGC) Coach of the Year award.  K.J. Kindler received the accolade in 2005 while at Iowa State, while Florida's Rhonda Faehn was named the national coach of the year in 2007.

SEASON OPENERS
The Sooners are 34-28 all-time in season openers, with a 3-2 mark under fourth-year coach K.J. Kindler. 

IN ELITE COMPANY
The Sooners are one of just six squads to advance to the NCAA Championships every year since 2004, joining Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Utah on that elite list.  OU's six championship appearances in the last six years matches the other three Big 12 programs combined during that period.  Nebraska advanced to the NCAA Championships from 2004-07, while Iowa State made back-to-back appearances in 2005 and 2006 under K.J. Kindler.     

CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA IN 2010
The back-to-back Big 12 Champions open the 2010 season ranked ninth in the GymInfo preseason coaches poll, the highest ranking of any conference squad.  The Sooners return 11 members from last season's group that clinched OU's second straight conference title. 

Headlining OU's returnees is sophomore All-American Megan Ferguson.  The Olathe, Kan., native capped off her stellar freshman campaign by garnering All-America status on beam at the 2009 NCAA Championships.  She became the first freshman in Big 12 history to win multiple event titles at the conference championship (bars and beam).

Other returnees include All-Big 12 selections in Jackie Flanery (floor - 2008), Melanie Root (vault - 2009), Kristin Smith (floor - 2009) and Hollie Vise (bars - 2008, beam - 2008, 2009).  The quartet has combined for nine Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honors in the past two seasons.

Also returning in 2010 are event title winners Mary Mantle (Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week on Feb. 12, 2008, after her vault win at Denver) and Sara Stone (three vault titles in 2009).

This season also marks the final send-off for Julie Kramer, while other returnees include juniors Candace Cindell and Natalie Ratcliff.  Ratcliff was a mainstay in the vault and beam lineup a year ago.

OU gymnastics fans also will have their first chance to see Oklahoma's freshman class of Bethany Neubauer, Kayla Nowak, Brie Olson and Nitya Ramaswami. The class was recently ranked No. 9 in the country by CollegeGymFans.com.

SHARING THE WEALTH
Oklahoma had seven gymnasts with at least four individual event titles in 2009, led by Ashley Jackson's 10. The Sooners were the only squad ranked in the final top-15 GymInfo poll without a gymnast in the top-25 all-around rankings.  Look for 2010 to be similar, as OU's depth will be a key factor for the Sooners' success. 

NOT ACTING LIKE NEWCOMERS
Of the 93 routines competed by gymnasts making their first collegiate appearance on the respective apparatus in 2009, a remarkable 56 (.602) scored a 9.8 or better. Ferguson tallied 23 routines at 9.8 or higher, while fellow frosh Sara Stone led the respective group with an average of .750 at 9.8 or higher (15-of-20).

This year's newcomers must follow in their footsteps, as OU must replace last year's veteran senior class of Haley (DeProspero) Horton, Ashley Jackson, Jessica Kinder and Gina Lesko. 

STELLAR YEAR IN THE CLASSROOM
Nine OU gymnasts earned 2009 NACGC All-Academic Scholar awards as the Sooners posted their highest GPA since 2004. Oklahoma's nine honorees was third best among teams advancing to last year's NCAA Championship, behind only Alabama (13) and Stanford (10).

FOLLOWING THE SOONERS
The OU gymnastics program maintains its own Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts, which are updated frequently with all of the latest news about the squad.  Links to each of those pages can be found at www.SoonerSports.com, the official site of the Oklahoma Sooners. 

KINDLER TABS THREE TO 2011 CLASS
Head Coach K.J. Kindler announced the signing of three gymnasts to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 11, the first day of the early signing period.  All hailing from the Lone Star state, the trio of Lauren Alexander (Plano, Texas), Hope Bruce (Denton, Texas) and Taylor Spears (Plano, Texas) will cross the Red River to join the Sooners next fall.

Bruce is a Junior International Elite qualifier, while Alexander and Spears both excelled at JO Nationals prior to signing with the Sooners. 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
If the old adage rings true, the Sooners should be on top of their game in 2010 as the team recently moved  into of the top training gyms in the entire country.  OU recently completed a state-of-the-art 7,000 square foot addition and a complete overhaul of the existing Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center for the men's and women's gymnastics squads. 

Funded entirely by private donations without the use of any state or university appropriated funds, the project included a complete renovation of the current gym, locker rooms, sports medicine training rooms and the awards recognition room.  A new storage area, a reconfiguration of foam and resi pits and an outdoor patio also highlighted the renovation.

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