No. 10 OU Opens Season at Florida

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 07, 2009

Jan. 7, 2009 

 No. 10 Oklahoma (0-0) at No. 3 Florida (0-0) 
 Date & Time

 Friday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. CST

 Location  Gainesville, Fla. | Stephen C. O'Connell Center
 Tickets  Gator Ticket Office

 Gator Vision

 Live Scoring  Scores
 Series History  Florida leads 10-2
 Gymnastics Site  Oklahoma | Florida
 Meet Info  Meet Notes (PDF) Sooners | Gators

Coming off of its 2008 Big 12 Championship title, the 10th-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad travels to Gainesville, Fla., for a season-opening dual with No. 3 Florida on Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. (CT) inside the O'Connell Center.

The Sooners welcome back 11 members from last season's group that clinched OU's first conference title since 2004, after recording an undefeated regular season.  Oklahoma lost three seniors to graduation from last season's squad in All-American's Stephanie LoPiccolo and Kiara Redmond, as well as fellow senior Caitlin Hinkis.
Returnees from last year's squad that tied for a program-best eighth-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Championships include All-Big 12 award winners Haley DeProspero, Jackie Flanery, Ashley Jackson, Melanie Root and Hollie Vise.  Also returning in 2009, after earning accolades a year earlier, are Mary Mantle and Kristin Smith, who were both honored as Big 12 Event Specialists of the Week in 2007.

Leading the way is reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year K.J. Kindler, who posted record-breaking numbers a year ago in her second season at the helm of the Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad. All told, the Sooners made their mark atop the record book for wins (28), consecutive victories (21), wins to start a season (21), regular season winning percentage (1.000), home winning percentage (.917) and regular-season road winning percentage (1.000).
In addition, the Sooners posted their second consecutive season with at least 21 wins, marking the first time in school history that the team has recorded back-to-back 20-plus-win seasons.

No. 3 Florida returns eight letterwinners from the 2008 squad that placed fourth in NCAA Championship Super Six competition and tied for second at the SEC Championships under head coach Rhonda Faehn, who enters her seventh season at the helm of the Gators in 2009.

UF's `09 roster includes three All-Americans - senior Corey Hartung and juniors Amanda Castillo and Melanie Sinclair.
The Gators return 16 of their 24 routines from the 2008 NCAA Championships Team Finals, losing a trio of seniors in Tiffany Murry, Ashley Reed and Nicola Willis to graduation.

Anne Phillips of gymnastike will be covering tonight's meeting between No. 10 Oklahoma and the third-ranked Florida Gators.  Click here for a link to her commentary.

 Sooner to Watch 

 Haley DeProspero | Sr. | All-Around
• The senior all-arounder enters her final season off the heels of nine event wins on beam in 2008 and career highs of 9.9 or higher on all four events. 

• The `08 Big 12 beam champion finished her junior campaign ranked fifth in the country on the apparatus with an RQS of 9.9. 


• LAST MEETING                         
OU and UF last met in the first session of the 2008 NCAA Championships team qualifying in Athens, Ga.  The Gators advanced to the NCAA Super Six after posting a 196.90 in winning the first preliminary session, while Oklahoma just missed one of the session's top three advancing positions with its fourth-place finish (196.075).

OU posted a season-high team score in both of its two regular-season meetings with SEC squads in 2008, with scores of 196.75 in consecutive weekends in wins versus Auburn (March 7) and Arkansas (March 15).

• THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR                                                                                                         
The Sooners welcome back 19 routines from last season's 2008 NCAA Championships, four more than Florida who returns 15 of its 24 routines from last year's NCAA meet.

• STARTING THE SEASON STRONG                                                                                                          
The Florida Gators are 40-8 all-time in home openers, including a 197.125-187.825 victory over Illinois-Chicago in 2008.  UF's team score of 197.125 in last season's home opener marked the highest season-opening total in school history, besting its previous high of 196.575 in the 2003 Super Six Challenge.

• ON TOP OF THEIR GAME                                                                                                         
Oklahoma's match-up with the Gators on Friday will feature two recent recipients of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches (NACGC) Coach of the Year award.  K.J. Kindler was honored in 2005 at ISU, while UF's Rhonda Faehn earned the award in 2007.

OU Fast Fact 
Friday's gymnastics meet between the Sooners and Gators will commence less than 24 hours after No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Florida battle on the gridiron in Miami on Jan. 8 for the BCS National Championship.

• BETTER LUCK THIS TIME                                                                                                         
Although the schedule was set months ago, OU is starting off its gymnastics slate with Oklahoma's football bowl opponent for the second straight year.   The Sooners squared off with West Virginia in the second session of the Cancun Classic in their season opener a year ago a day after OU's football squad lost to the Mountaineers in the Fiesta Bowl. 

• LOOKING TO BUCK THE TREND                                                                                                          
The Sooners hold an all-time record of 2-10 versus the Gators including losses in their last five meetings. OU's last win over the Gators was a 2002 dual-meet win in Norman by a score of 195.475-193.925. Below is a look at the largest and narrowest victories for both squads.

Largest Win:
6.900 - UF over OU (1985 NCAA Championships)
1.550 - OU over UF ( 2002 dual meet in Norman, Okla.)

Narrowest Win:
0.675 - UF over OU (2004 Super Six Challenge)
0.050 - OU over UF (1989 NCAA Championships)

• REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS                                                                                                          
Oklahoma has won 31 of its last 32 regular-season matchups dating back to Jan. 19, 2007.  Winners of all regular season meets in 2008, the Sooners' last regular season defeat was to Stanford on March 9, 2007 in Palo Alto, Calif.

• ROAD WARRIORS                                                                                                                                  
Three of Oklahoma's top four scores in 2008, including a season-best-tying 196.750 at Arkansas, came on the road. In addition, five of OU's top seven scores in `08 were outside of Norman.

• DOMINATING THE COMPETITION                                                                                                     
The Sooners were not overly kind to their opponents last season. In the 12 regular season events, Oklahoma won the event outright or shared title honors in 39 of a possible 48 event competitions.

• FIRST TIME HOME                                                                                                     
OU opens its home campaign on Monday, Jan. 26, against SEC foe Arkansas.  The Sooners edged the Lady Backs 196.750- 196.625 last season in Fayetteville, despite a program-tying high score from the home team.  The two squads also squared off in the opening session of the NCAA Championships in April, as the Sooners defeated Arkansas 196.075-195.825.

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 the Gators. 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 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.

• SOONERS TABBED 10TH                                                                                                                   
The reigning Big 12 Champion Oklahoma women's gymnastics team is ranked 10th in the preseason GymInfo Coaches' Poll, the highest ranking of any conference squad. Oklahoma's 525 points in the preseason poll were 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.

Roster | Schedule | 2009 Season Preview | Notes

• 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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