Feb. 26, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The top-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad (11-0, 3-0 Big 12) clinched its seventh straight victory over a top-25 opponent with a 196.825-194.125 win at No. 23 Michigan State (9-5, 3-3 Big Ten) on Friday.
The victory was capped off by Sara Stone's 10.00 on vault, the 11th perfect score in program history and fifth on the apparatus.
OU improved to 12-1-1 against Big Ten foes under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler by picking up victories on all four events for the third consecutive meet (fifth time this season) in front of 721 fans at Jenison Field House.
The Sooners also swept all four individual titles as Stone (vault), Brie Olson (bars - 9.85), Hollie Vise (beam - 9.925) and Jackie Flanery (floor - 9.95) picked up event wins.
"It was a Jekyll and Hyde night," said Kindler. "One moment we were great and the next we were not."
OU opened the away dual on bars with a season-low 48.95. Olson was one of the Sooners lone bright spots on the apparatus, scoring a career-high-tying 9.85 in her first collegiate event win. Vise posted a 9.8 from the anchor position in Oklahoma's only other routine of 9.8 or higher.
"We talked about having a lot of energy starting the meet on bars and I really didn't feel like we had that tonight," said Kindler. We were pretty good on the bar, but were flat on our dismounts, without much attention to detail. When you only stick one out of six, that will really kill you."
After a spirited team huddle following the rotation, any ill effects from the slow start were quickly erased as Stone led the Sooners to season-high 49.450 on vault. Natalie Ratcliff (9.9) and Natasha Kelley (9.9) posted career highs, while Olson and Flanery added a pair of 9.825s.
"Vault was fantastic, definitely our best performance of the year," added Kindler. "There is a genuine thrill anytime you have someone post a 10 and that was definitely the highlight of the meet. I was really proud of the way that lineup came out and performed from top to bottom, especially after the sub-par start on bars."
Stone gave the Sooners a 98.400-96.350 advantage at the halfway mark with the first perfect score by an Oklahoma gymnast since Kiara Redmond posted one on vault against TWU on Feb. 29, 2008. It was the third perfect routine in the NCAA this season and first by an underclassman.
On floor, Flanery anchored the lineup with a career-high-tying 9.95 en route to a 49.225 team tally. OU closed the rotation with four scores of 9.8 or better, as Kristin Smith (9.9), Hollie Vise (9.875) and Megan Ferguson (9.8) all posted solid routines.
"The last three up on floor are knocking it out of the park, but they aren't being set up by the first part of the lineup the way they need to," said Kindler. "We're seeing a lot of inconsistency at the beginning of that lineup and that is certainly something that will need to be cleaned up."
The Sooners rebounded from a fall during the opening routine on beam with four scores of 9.825 or higher to close the rotation with a team tally of 49.200. Vise (9.925) and Ferguson (9.9) anchored the lineup with a pair of strong routines, preceded by a 9.825s from Kelley and Smith.
"Again on beam, you are under a tremendous amount of pressure when your first girl up falters. The thing is Natalie is a beautiful beam worker... to go 9.3 with a fall proves that. She's got to have more faith in herself. Everyone around her believes in her, now it's time for her to believe in herself."
The Sooners improved to 5-0 all-time against the Spartans, including a pair of victories under Kindler.
Oklahoma returns home for its most anticipated home meet in program history in a battle with No. 2 Alabama on Friday, March 5, at 7 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center.