April 12, 2000
NORMAN, Okla. - Senior Amber McCracken is the University of Oklahoma's lone representative competing at this week's NCAA Championships in Boise, Idaho. The Championships, hosted by Boise State University, will be held Thursday through Saturday at Boise State University Pavilion. McCracken and fellow senior Ginger Russell were among 12 individual all-arounders who qualified for the Championships, but a broken bone in Russell's left hand will keep her from participating.
Twelve teams qualified for the Championships, including Nebraska and Iowa State from the Big 12.
Preliminary team and all-around competition will be conducted in two sessions Thursday. The top three teams from each session will advance to Friday's Super Six competition. The top four individuals from each session in each event (plus ties) from the preliminary team and all-around competition will compete in the individual-event competition on Saturday.
McCracken in the National Rankings
McCracken, who has won six all-around titles this year, appears 20th in the latest national all-around rankings (March 28). The senior from Olathe, Kan., also ranks 14th nationally on the vault and 22nd on the uneven parallel bars.
"Amber looks better now than she has at any time in her four years at Oklahoma," said Sooner head coach Becky Buwick. "She's trained beautifully since the regional and is happy and looking forward to a great competition. She has a great opportunity to advance to the individual event finals and to become an All-American. She's been a great team leader for us and is one of the finest gymnasts to ever compete for Oklahoma."
Racking Up the Victories
McCracken has garnered 28 individual titles this year, including six all-around crowns. She has claimed nine out of a possible 12 vault titles (also earned second and third-place finishes), as well as seven bars, five floor exercise and one balance beam crowns.
Sooners Struggle at Regional
Oklahoma, which found itself ranked 10th in the country entering the postseason, struggled at the NCAA Regional 1 in Corvallis, Ore., April 1 and finished in sixth place out of six teams with a 193.000. UCLA and host Oregon State qualified for the NCAA Championships with respective scores of 197.025 and 196.175. Stanford (195.975), Washington (195.250) and Boise State (193.650) also finished ahead of the Sooners. OU's score was its lowest since the first meet of the season.
McCracken and Ginger Russell tied for fifth in the all-around competition with identical scores of 39.150. Redshirt-freshman Leticia Ishii, the team's second-ranked all-arounder, turned in a disappointing 37.750, her lowest score of the year by far.
McCracken tied for fourth in the floor exercise with a 9.90 while Russell turned in OU's top beam performance with a 9.875 (tied for fifth).
McCracken will attempt to become the fourth Sooner to earn All-America status. Following is a look at the other three individuals and their combined 12 honors:
Amy Priest 1985Vault
Cassie Frey 1987Bars, All-Around 1988Vault 1989Bars
Kelly Garrison 1987Bars, All-Around 1988Bars, Vault, Beam, Floor, All-Around
Kelly Garrison is the only Sooner to win a national championship. The former standout won the all-around title in 1987 and claimed bars, beam and all-around championships in 1988.