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Beauty and the Beast is Friday at 7
January 28, 2009

Jan. 28, 2009 

 No. 7 Oklahoma (1-2) vs. No. 21 Minnesota (1-2) 
 Date & Time

 Friday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. CST

 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center
 Tickets  OU Ticket Office - (405) 325-2424 or toll-free (800) 456-GoOU
 Promotions

 "Beauty and the Beast" with the Oklahoma wrestling squad

 Live Scoring  Webcast (All-Access) | Live Scores (Free)
 Directions  Campus Map
 Prizes  Airline tickets, an iPod and more!
 Meet Info  Meet Notes (PDF) SoonersMinnesota | Video Preview

PREVIEWING FRIDAY'S MEET
The Sooners have a quick turn around following their loss to the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks last Monday, hosting Minnesota on Friday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. inside the Lloyd Noble Center in OU's "Beauty and the Beast" spectacular.  Oklahoma and the Minnesota Golden Gophers will share the floor with the OU wrestling squad, who battles N.C. State.

Oklahoma (1-2) dropped a 195.625-196.900 decision in its home opener to Arkansas (4-1) at the LNC its last time out.  The Sooners were in it through two rotations, but beam proved the difference maker as the Sooners scored a 48.325 on the apparatus, while the Razorbacks posted a 49.275 en route to a program-best team tally.  

The Sooners won a share of three individual event titles against the Razorbacks from Sara Stone - vault (9.875), Hollie Vise - bars (9.875) and Jessica Kinder - floor (9.9).  Kinder's career-high on the apparatus resulted in the first collegiate event title for the Kansas City, Mo., native.

Oklahoma was without the services of all-arounder Ashley Jackson against Arkansas, as the senior sat out with a minor back strain.  Jackson is listed as day-to-day and could see action on Friday.  

OU defeated the Golden Gophers 196.125-195.625 in Minneapolis, Minn., on March. 22, 2008, in the two program's last meeting.  Although the two squad's have met on seven previous occasions, Friday will mark the first time since 1992 that Minnesota has competed in Norman.

OPPONENT INFO
Minnesota slipped one spot to No. 21 in the latest national rankings after falling to Michigan 194.425-194.850 on Jan. 24. In the event rankings, the Golden Gophers are currently listed at No. 36 on vault, No. 9 on bars, tied for No. 21 on beam and No. 35 on floor.

Minnesota recorded its best team scores of the season on bars, beam and team tally in last weekend's meet against Michigan.

Individually, all-around performers Alexis Russell and Carmelina Carabajal are currently ranked second and third, respectively, in the Big Ten Conference. Russell is tied for seventh in the conference in the floor exercise rankings, while Carabajal stands No. 5 on vault and No. 3 on balance beam.

Kristin Furukawa is ranked No. 6 and Yuri Nagai is ranked No. 8 among bars performers in the Big Ten, while Jamie Bullock stands fourth on balance beam.

Carabajal's beam score of 9.900 against Michigan was the top individual score on any event by a Minnesota gymnast this season.

 
 Sooner to Watch 

 Jessica Kinder | Sr. | AA
 
Kinder posted a personal-best all-around tally of 39.175 against Arkansas on Monday - including a career-high 9.9 on the floor exercise.

Her floor score resulted in the first collegiate event title for the Kansas City, Mo., native.  

   

• AMONG THE REGIONS BEST
The Sooners hold the top spot in the South Central Region's latest Troester rankings.  OU holds top-two team spots on all four events (leads the region on vault and beam).

• 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. 

• MEET INFO           
A live webcast will be available to Oklahoma all-access subscribers at www.SoonerSports.com.  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.

REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
Oklahoma has won 32 of its last 35 regular-season matchups dating back to Jan. 19, 2007. 

• MORE ON "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST"                               
This unique event, which features the Oklahoma women's gymnastics and wrestling teams competing side-by-side, gives fans of each sport the opportunity to see what the other is all about.
 
It is becoming a popular craze around the country, but perhaps no school will be able to offer the level of competition that the Sooners promise at this year's Beauty and the Beast event.

The OU women's gymnastics team owns a share of the top score in the NCAA this season, while the wrestling team is in the midst of one of the best seasons in program history.

• NOT ACTING LIKE NEWCOMERS                                                                                                                    
Out of the 21 routines that have been competed by gymnasts making their first collegiate appearance on the respective apparatus in 2009, a remarkable 11 (.524) have gone for a 9.8 or better.  Below is a breakdown of those scores:

Megan Ferguson (5) - 9.925 (beam @ TWU), 9.85 (bars vs. Ark, @ TWU, @UF), 9.85 (floor vs. Ark).
Sara Stone (3) - 9.875 (vault vs. Ark, @ TWU), 9.8 (vault @ UF).
Natalie Ratcliff (2) - 9.875 (beam @ TWU), 9.825 (beam vs. Ark).
Melanie Root (1) - 9.825 (bars @ TWU).

Roster | Schedule | 2009 Season Preview | Notes | 2009 Poster

• 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.

• OTHER NOTABLE NUMBERS
Not to be lost in the defeat to Arkansas were strong individual performances from Mary Mantle and Megan Ferguson.  The duo both set personal bests on the night (Mantle - 9.825 on bars, Ferguson - 9.85 on floor). 
 
• FRESHMEN PHENOMS
OU's Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone have either led the Sooners outright or tied for the team event high on four occasions already this season.  Ferguson paced the Sooners on bars against Florida (9.85) and tied for the beam crown against TWU (9.925), while Stone's 9.875 on vault against Arkansas was a team high a week after sharing vault honors with Ashley Jackson against TWU.   
  
• PROTECTING THE HOUSE
The Sooners are 12-1 in their last 13 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. K indler - OU's current head coach.      

• BRING 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.       

• 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 Megan Ferguson leads the Big 12 on bars.  On beam, Haley DeProspero and Natalie Ratcliff are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, while Ashley Jackson holds the top spot in the conference on floor. 

• CAREER BESTS APLENTY
Nine Oklahoma gymnasts either set or tied a total of 12 personal bests against TWU on Jan. 17.  Below is a run-down from OU's spectacular night:

Haley DeProspero (1): Beam - 9.925 | Megan Ferguson (3): Bars - 9.85, Beam - 9.925*, Floor - 9.775*
Jackie Flanery (1): Floor - 9.9 | Ashley Jackson (1): Floor - 9.95* | Natalie Ratcliff (1): Beam - 9.875*
Melanie Root (1): Bars - 9.825* | Kristin Smith (1): Floor - 9.9* | Sara Stone (2): Vault - 9.875*, Floor - 9.775*
Hollie Vise (1): Beam - 9.925*

* - Established new career best       

• 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 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. 

• SOONERS TABBED 10TH IN PRESEASON POLL                                                    
The reigning Big 12 Champion Oklahoma women's gymnastics team was ranked 10th in the preseason GymInfo Coaches' Poll, the highest ranking of any conference squad. Oklahoma's 525 points in the preseason poll was one less than ninth-ranked Oregon State. Georgia, winner of the last four national titles, opens the 2009 season as the nation's top team.  The Gym Dogs earned 26 of a possible 33 first-place votes, easily distancing themselves from No. 2 Utah (two first-place votes).  Florida, UCLA (four first-place votes) and Stanford round out the top five. The Sooners' regular season schedule features events against eight teams ranked in the preseason top-25 poll.

• OKLAHOMA INKS THREE TO 2009 CLASS                                                          
Head Coach K.J. Kindler and the Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad announced the signing of three gymnasts to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 12, the first day of the early signing period.
 
Oklahoma native Bethany Neubauer (Edmond, Okla.), Kayla Nowak (Algonquin, Ill.) and Brie Olson (St. Cloud, Minn.) will join the Sooners next fall.

• KIARA REDMOND NAMED TEAM MANAGER                                                                                                  
Former OU All-American Kiara Redmond has re-joined the Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad as team manager for the 2008-09 season.  The appointment was announced Aug. 8 by head coach K.J. Kindler.
 
Redmond, one of the most decorated gymnasts in program history, completed her eligibility last May after earning All-America honors on vault, beam, floor and in the all-around at the 2008 NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga.

• SHOWING OFF THEIR SMARTS                                                                                          
For the second consecutive season, five members of the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team earned National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches All-American Scholar Athlete Awards, the NACGC announced Aug. 6.
 
Haley DeProspero, Caitlin Hinkis, Jessica Kinder, Gina Lesko and Mary Mantle garnered Oklahoma's accolades with Hinkis and Kinder both earning perfect 4.0 GPA's for the academic year.  The pair was the only gymnasts in the Big 12 to notch 4.0's during both semesters.
 
OU recorded a team GPA of 3.25 for the year, up from last season's 3.20.

• VISE AND COMPANY NAMED TO USAG HALL OF FAME                                                                             
University of Oklahoma gymnast Hollie Vise was named to the 2008 class of inductees for the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame as part of the 2003 U.S. Women's World Championships Team, in a ceremony on June 22nd in Philadelphia, Pa., in conjunction with the U.S. Olympic Trials.
 
The 2003 World Champion on bars, Vise was a member of the `03 squad that claimed the USA's first world team title.

An International Elite gymnast since the age of 11, Vise was a two-time National Champion on bars and balance beam and won a silver medal in the all-around at the same competition on three occasions.
 
A member of the U.S. National Team for six years, the Dallas, Texas, native won two bronze medals at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Australia.

• A LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR                                                                                           
2008 proved to be a storybook season for OU women's gymnastics as the team cemented itself as one of the program's all-time best. Etching its name in the record books on multiple occasions, the Sooners clinched their first Big 12 title since 2004 in dramatic come-from-behind fashion and placed eighth at the NCAA Championships - tying the `07 squad for the best finish in program history at the season-ending event. 

OU made its fifth-straight NCAA Championships appearance, adding to its program-record streak.  Prior to the current five consecutive showings, the Sooners hadn't been in the field in back-to-back seasons in the 27-year history of the program.

The Sooners claimed a conference-leading nine spots on the 2008 Gymnastics All-Big 12 Team.  The Big 12 Conference awarded the top four Big 12 gymnasts with the highest regional qualifying score (RQS) in each event, excluding the all-around. Leading the way for OU was Kiara Redmond who earned a spot on vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise. The Los Angeles, Calif., native was the only Big 12 gymnast to garner four accolades. 

Vise was also a multiple winner, clinching a spot on both uneven bars and beam. Leading the Big 12 on beam (9.895), DeProspeo was named to the beam team while Jackie Flanery and Ashley Jackson were honored for their efforts on floor.

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