OU Returns Home for Top-10 Conference Clash

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 04, 2010

Feb. 4, 2010


 No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 Nebraska and TWU
 Date  Friday, Feb. 5 | 7 p.m. (CT)
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center
 Tickets  Oklahoma Ticket Office | (405) 325-2424
 Live Stats  Scoring
 Online  Webcast (w/commentary) for All-Access Subscribers
 Meet Notes  Sooners 

NORMAN, Okla.  - The second-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics squad returns to the Lloyd Noble Center on Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. (CT) for a meeting with conference-rival Nebraska (No. 10) and TWU.  The meet is OU’s annual “Flip for a Cause” meet in promotion of women’s heart health awareness.

Oklahoma is competing in Norman for the first time since its season-opening victory over No. 4 Florida on Jan. 8.  The Sooners have since been on a three-meet road stand, their longest of the regular season. 

Friday’s meet features the highest two ranked squads in the Big 12, both entering the meet with unblemished records in 2010.  OU and NU split the season series a year ago, with Oklahoma clinching its second-straight conference title after dropping the regular season decision in Lincoln.

OU holds the top season average in the Big 12 on each event, while the Huskers rank second on vault and floor.  Individually, Oklahoma’s Hollie Vise (bars, beam) and Jackie Flanery (floor) rank first on those respective events. 
NU’s Erin Davis holds the top vault average among conference gymnasts. 

Oklahoma Roster | 2010 Schedule and Results | Intro Video


Friday’s meeting is the 81st between Oklahoma and Nebraska, the most of any OU opponent.  Although the Huskers hold a 60-20 lead in the all-time series, the Sooners are 4-2 against NU under K.J. Kindler. 

Oklahoma and TWU have competed seven times previously during Kindler’s tenure, with the Sooners winning every meeting, including last week at the Metroplex Challenge. OU is 56-3 all-time against the Pioneers dating back to the first meeting in 1984.    

Oklahoma is 47-6 in the regular season under K.J. Kindler, including a perfect 6-0 mark in 2010.  The Sooners went 10-4 during the regular season in 2009, with three of those losses coming on the road (Florida, Nebraska and Alabama). 

Senior’s Hollie Vise and Jackie Flanery both rank in the top five nationally in the latest individual standings.  Vise is the best beam worker in the country through the first four weeks of the season and also ranks fifth on bars, while Flanery is ranked fifth on floor after her 9.95 on the apparatus last weekend.    

Oklahoma was forced to count its first fall of the season on any event with two falls on beam at the Metroplex Challenge in the fourth meet of the year.  The Sooners entered the meet as the only school in the country that had not counted a score lower than 9.7 this season. OU’s consistency has still been top-notch though, as Oklahoma has hit 92-of-96 routines on the year.

The Sooners are 23-2 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. 

The Sooners seek some of the same road success in 2010 that they have exhibited in recent years. On the young season, both of Oklahoma’s top scores have come in road competition, including a 196.650 at No. 25 Illinois.

Five of OU’s top seven scores (including a season-high 197.175 at TWU) came away from Norman in 2009, a year after five of Oklahoma’s top seven scores (including three of the top four and a season-best-tying 196.750 at Arkansas) came on the road.  Oklahoma was the only squad in the top 10 to have both of its top two scores from 2009 come in road competition.  OU’s 197.175-189.600 victory at TWU last season marked its best team score since Jan. 24, 2004 (197.300).

Thirty-one of Oklahoma’s 96 routines this season have been performed by freshmen (.323), including exactly half of OU’s uneven bars routines (12 of 24).  The group is 30-of-31 on the year.  Each freshman that has competed has scored at least a 9.8 in one of their routines, while Natasha Kelley has already tallied six scores of at least 9.85. 


Jackie Flanery | Sr. | VT-UB-FX 
Flanery returns to the Lloyd Noble Center for the second time during her senior send-off after posting 9.8s or higher in all three of her routines in OU’s home opener as the Sooners stunned fourth-ranked Florida on Jan. 8.

The Plattsburg, Mo., native scored a career-high 9.95 on floor in last week’s Metroplex Challenge and ranks fourth nationally on the apparatus.


Just like last season’s second road meet of the season, the OU beam squad provided its breakout performance of the 2010 campaign in its second road outing at Illinois with a team tally of 49.500 on the apparatus.  OU reeled off five straight 9.85s or better after a fall from the first position on beam at Illinois.  Vise and Smith shared event honors with 9.95s, while Ferguson (9.9), Kelley (9.85) and Nowak (9.85) completed a sweep of the individual event standings on the apparatus.  

Oklahoma’s beam tally was its second highest event total under Kindler, just behind OU’s 49.525 on beam at TWU on Jan. 17, 2009.

The Sooners have collected 27 of a possible 32 combined individual and team event titles in 2010, including at least six combined individual and team event wins in each meet.  OU has won every team event title on bars, beam and floor in 2010.  

OU trailed for the first time after any rotation this season as Illinois opened with a 49.100 on vault, to OU’s 49.000 start on bars.  The Sooners overtook the Fighting Illini during the next rotation and cruised to their eighth-straight win over Illinois, remaining undefeated in the series and posting the second-largest margin of victory in any meeting between the two programs (+2.255). 

OU has found a way to win lately despite the lack of a true all-around presence.  Oklahoma did not have an all-arounder compete against Florida, Auburn or the Metroplex Challenge, while the Sooners were the only squad ranked in the final 2009 top-15 GymInfo poll without a gymnast in the top-25 all-around rankings.   

Freshman Kayla Nowak was a last-minute addition to the vault lineup at Illinois and placed second in her first collegiate all-around appearance.  Nowak was competing in her home state for the first time in collegiate competition.

Strictly a bars and beam specialist during her first three seasons in Norman, Hollie Vise performed her first collegiate routine on floor against the Gators.  The Dallas, Texas, native scored a 9.825 on the apparatus, OU’s third-highest score on the event in the season opener.  

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.     

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.

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. 

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. 

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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