OU Hosts NCAA Norman Regional Saturday at 4

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 31, 2011

March 31, 2011



 Saturday, April 2 at 4 p.m.
 More Info  NCAA Norman Regional Central
 Location  Lloyd Noble Center
 Tickets  OU Athletics Ticket Office
 Webcast  Free Live Video
 Internet  Live Scoring
 Meet Notes  Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. - The fifth-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics team will host No. 7 Utah, No. 17 Washington, New Hampshire, Missouri and North Carolina at the 2011 NCAA Norman Regional on April 2 at 4 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Norman is one of six regional sites with competition being held nationwide on April 2. The other five regional sites include Ann Arbor, Mich., (Michigan), Athens, Ga., (Georgia), Corvallis, Ore., (Oregon State), Denver, Colo., (Denver), and Tuscaloosa, Ala., (Alabama).

The top two teams from each regional will advance to the 2011 NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 15-17.

The Sooners open the meet on floor, receiving their rotation via a blind draw conducted by the NCAA office. OU's rotation order will be floor, vault, bye, bars, beam, bye. The individual all-arounder competing with Oklahoma is Brittany Johnson of Texas Woman's.

Oklahoma (17-1) received the No. 1 seed for the Norman regional with its No. 5 ranking in the latest national poll released Monday.  The Sooners clinched their third perfect regular season in four years on March 11 with a 196.875-194.800 win over Michigan State. 

OU finished second at the 2011 Big 12 Championship with a 196.500, behind No. 10 Nebraska's 196.775.  Three OU gymnasts won individual Big 12 titles.  Megan Ferguson and Natasha Kelley tied for the beam title with a pair of 9.925s on the event, while Kayla Nowak won a share of the floor title with a 9.9.

The Sooners have wins over 10 top 25 teams, including three in the top 10, this season.  OU has eight gymnasts ranked in the top 25 over four events.  Ferguson is No. 5 on beam and No. 22 on floor, Kelley is No. 6 on beam and No. 11 on bars, Sara Stone is No. 11 on vault and No. 22 on floor, Nowak is No. 12 on floor while Taylor Spears is No. 17 on beam.

OU has qualified for seven-straight NCAA Championships, one of just five schools in the country to do so (joining Alabama, Florida, LSU and Utah).

A live webcast and live scoring for the 2011 NCAA Norman Regional can be found at SoonerSports.com, featuring live commentary by former All-American Kasie Tamayo and former Sports Information Director, Phillip Rogers.

For tickets, call (405) 325-2424 or toll-free (800) 456-GoOU. Tickets can also be purchased at the main ticket office in Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium or at the Lloyd Noble Center on the day of the meet. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $8 for youth/OU students and $5 for groups of 10 or more.

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The Sooners became the only remaining undefeated team in the NCAA this regular season on March 5 as OU finished first in its quad meet with No. 17 Illinois, No. 13 Illinois and TWU on March 4 while previously-unbeaten No. 3 Stanford lost to Oregon State that Saturday, leaving OU as the lone unbeaten team.

OU clinched its third perfect regular season in four years (and second-straight) on March 11 with its 196.875-194.800 win over Michigan State in Norman. The Sooners went 14-0 in 2010 and finished 2011 at 15-0, bringing its current nation-leading regular-season win streak to 29 victories. OU's last regular-season loss was to Alabama in Tuscaloosa on March 13, 2009. Oklahoma is 67-6 in the regular season under Kindler.

Oklahoma has five gymnasts ranked in the top 25 over all four events, including two in the top 10. Sara Stone is ranked No. 11 on vault. Natasha Kelley is ranked No. 11 on bars. Megan Ferguson is No. 5 on beam while Kelley is No. 6 and Taylor Spears is No. 17. Kayla Nowak is No. 12 on floor while Ferguson and Stone are tied at No. 22. The Sooners are ranked in the top 10 on all four events as a team, OU is No. 9 on vault, No. 10 on bars, No. 1 on beam and No. 4 on floor.

With its season-high beam 49.450 at the Big 12 Championship, OU moved up to No. 1 in the latest national beam rankings. An OU gymnast has scored a 9.9 or higher on beam 13 times this season, including a 9.95 from freshman Madison Mooring against TWU on Jan. 23. OU has three individuals ranked in the top 20 on the event, Megan Ferguson is No. 5, Natasha Kelley is No. 6 and Taylor Spears is No. 17. The three Sooners were also named All-Big 12 on the apparatus while Ferguson and Kelley shared the Big 12 beam title on March 19 with their 9.925s.

OU led the league with nine selections to the 2011 All-Big 12 Gymnastics Team announced March 16. Megan Ferguson (bars, beam and floor), Natasha Kelley (bars and beam), Kayla Nowak (floor), Taylor Spears (beam) and Sara Stone (vault and floor) represented OU on the 2011 all-conference squad.

Oklahoma became just the third team in the NCAA to break 197 twice this season with its 197.025-showing on March 4. OU was the first team to do so on the road, en route to its 197.225-195.375 victory over Iowa State on Feb. 11.

The Sooners have beaten nine teams currently ranked in the top 25, including No. 3 Oregon State, three top 10 teams and five top 15 teams and five programs that competed at the 2010 NCAA Championships.

The Sooners are one of five programs in the country with seven-straight NCAA Championship appearances. OU joins Alabama, Florida, LSU and Utah in the elite group. OU has qualified for the the NCAA Championships every year since the arrival of current head coach K.J. Kindler in 2007.

In Kindler's fifth season with the Sooners, its fitting that the No. 5 has made numerous appearances with the 2011 team. OU ended the season ranked No. 5 in the country, OU had five gymnasts named All-Big 12 (Ferguson, Kelley, Nowak, Spears and Stone), OU had five gymnasts named Academic All-Big 12 (Ferguson, Kelley, Nowak, Ratcliff and Stone), an OU gymnast scored a 9.95 five times this season, and OU gymnast scored a 9.925 five times this season, while five OU gymnasts earned Big 12 weekly honors this season (Kelley, Madison Mooring, Nowak, Taylor Spears and Stone).

The Sooners are 37-2 in Norman under fifth-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 69 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over then-ranked No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 4 Florida in 2010 as well as wins over Auburn, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford and West Virginia.

Six of OU's highest team scores this season have come away from Norman, including its season-high 197.225 that was set at Iowa State. The Sooners were the first team in the NCAA this season to break the 197 mark on the road. The Sooners are no strangers to road success, OU has posted five of its seven highest scores away from Norman for three-straight seasons. The Sooners are 36-5 on the road during the regular season under head coach K.J. Kindler.

Sophomore Kayla Nowak competed in the all-arounder for the second-straight week for just the second time this season in OU's quad meet on March 4. Nowak scored a 39.275 to win her first all-around title. Nowak scored a career-high 39.375, the week prior against Michigan finishing in second place by just .025 behind then-No. 1 ranked all-arounder, Michigan's Kylee Botterman who posted a 39.400. With her the 39.375 and 39.275, Nowak is averaging a 39.325 which is the country's sixth-best average in the all-around.

Freshman Taylor Spears was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for the third time after setting career-highs on all three routines at Iowa State. Spears scored a 9.9 on both bars and beam and a 9.875 on floor. Spears was the first freshman in the Big 12 to score a 9.9 on bars and is the only freshman on OU's squad to score a 9.9 on multiple events. Spears has scored a 9.8 or higher in eight of her 10 beam routines this season and is the highest-ranked freshman in the Big 12 on beam.

WIN NO. 100

OU improved to 6-0 on the season, with wins over No. 6 Oregon State, No. 23 Denver, Centenary and TWU the weekend of Jan. 23. With the wins, OU Head Coach K.J. Kindler moves to 100 victories at Oklahoma. The Sooners are 109-36-2 overall under Kindler, 37-2 at home, 36-5 on the road and 71-6 in the regular season.

OU had at least one freshman compete on all four events in all 12competitions this season. Eighty-one of OU's routines this season have been performed by freshmen. Taylor Spears is currently ranked No. 17 nationally on beam and has scored a 9.9 on both bars and beam. Madison Mooring has competed on at least two events in every meet and has performed on three events for most of the season. Mooring was the first freshman in the NCAA this season to post a 9.95 on beam. Hayden Ward has competed on bars and floor for the Sooners, Ward and Mooring both joined the team in December following their high school graduations. Hope Bruce set a career-high on beam at Michigan in just her second appearance in the beam lineup with a 9.875.

Oklahoma was chosen as one of six host sites for the 2013 NCAA Regional Championships, announced by the NCAA on Tuesday. Oklahoma will host along with Corvallis, Ore. (Oregon State), Gainesville, Fla. (Florida), Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State), Morgantown, W.V. (West Virginia) and Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Alabama). The top two teams will advance to the 2013 NCAA Championships at UCLA.

Oklahoma started the season ranked No. 4 nationally, the highest preseason ranking in program history. The back-to-back-to-back Big 12 Champions return nine members of the record-breaking 2010 squad, as the team looks to make its second-straight NCAA Super Six in 2011. Headlining OU's returnees are Megan Ferguson and Natasha Kelley. Ferguson is a two-time All-American and was named All-Big 12 on both bars and beam in 2010. Kelley was named the 2010 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and All-Big 12 on vault and bars. The redshirt-sophomore enters the 2011 season with a career-high 9.925 on vault and 9.9 on both bars and beam. The Sooners welcome four newcomers for the 2011 season. Hope Bruce and Taylor Spears joined the team in the summer of 2010, while Madison Mooring and Hayden Ward began training with the team in December.

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 these pages as well as a behind-the-scenes blog can be found at www. SoonerSports.com.




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