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No. 2 Sooners Visit Ninth-Ranked Auburn Friday
January 13, 2010

Jan. 13, 2010

 


 No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 9 Auburn  
 Date  Friday, Jan. 15 | 7 p.m. (CT)
 Location  Auburn, Ala. | Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum (10,500)
 Tickets  Order Online | (800) AUB-1957
 Live Stats  Oklahoma at Auburn
 Online  Webcast (All-Access Subscribers) 
 Meet Notes  Sooners | OU Gymnastics Weekly Recap (video)

AUBURN, Ala. - The second-ranked OU women’s gymnastics squad hits the road for the first time in 2010, travelling to No. 9 Auburn on Friday for a dual meet with the Tigers inside Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum at 7 p.m. (CT). 

The Sooners (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) enter the meet off of a wire-to-wire upset of No. 4 Florida in which Oklahoma posted its highest season-opening score in program history (196.250).  The victory over the Gators marked the highest ranked opponent that OU has toppled under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.

Oklahoma’s second-place ranking is the highest in program history, as the Sooners posted the second-best beam (49.025) and floor (49.100) scores in the NCAA during the first week of competition.  

Auburn (0-1, 0-1 SEC) dropped a 195.650-195.200 decision to in-state rival Alabama in its season opener on Jan. 9.  The Tigers rank in the top 10 nationally on beam (No. 5 - 48.925) and bars (No. 7 - 48.925). 

Friday’s meet will serve as Auburn’s annual “Flip for the Cure” night, with “Flip for the Cure” t-shirts on sale for $10 with all proceeds benefitting East Alabama Medical Center.

Oklahoma Roster | 2010 Schedule and Results | Intro Video

ON THE WEB:
OU's meeting with Auburn will feature a live webcast for All-Access subscribers, which can be found at auburntigers.com.  Live stats for all meets can be found on SoonerSports.com.

WEEKEND ACTION AROUND THE BIG 12 
Friday, Jan. 15:
Iowa State @ Utah - 6 p.m. (CT)  
Minnesota and Illinois @ Nebraska - 7 p.m. (CT) 
Missouri @ Lady Luck Invitational - 9 p.m. (CT)    


MEET NOTES:

CLOSER LOOK AT AUBURN
Auburn returns 14 letterwinners from last year’s squad that was ranked as high as fourth in the nation and in the top 10 for the first nine weeks of the season.  The Tigers’ roster features a bevy of underclassmen (seven sophomores and six freshmen), while only nine gymnasts on the 2010 roster have performed a collegiate routine.  AU must replace 2009 seniors Lindsay Puckett and A.J. Mills, who combined for 79 career titles at Auburn.

REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
Oklahoma is 42-6 in the regular season under K.J. Kindler.  The Sooners went 10-4 during the regular season in 2009, with three of those losses coming on the road (Florida, Nebraska and Alabama). 

SEC FAMILIARITY
OU will face four teams from the Southeastern Conference during the regular season, including two straight to begin the 2010 season with Oklahoma’s meet at Auburn after its home opener against Florida.  Oklahoma faces Alabama in Norman on March 5, in the eighth meeting between the two programs over the last four seasons, before travelling to Arkansas on March 19.  

SOONERS AGAINST THE SEC
Oklahoma is 5-18 against teams from the Southeastern Conference under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.  That figure is skewed slightly as 17 of the 23 meetings have come in NCAA postseason competition against the upper echelon of the SEC.  The Sooners are 2-4 against SEC foes in the regular season, with wins over Arkansas (2008) and Florida (2010). 

“ON” THE ROAD AGAIN
The Sooners seek some of the same road success in 2010 that they have exhibited in recent years.  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).

DAZZLING DEBUT
Eight of Oklahoma’s 24 routines in the season opener were performed by freshmen, including at least two on every event other than floor.  The group posted an average score of 9.79 against Florida, with a pair of 9.85s from Natasha Kelley (bars) and Kayla Nowak (floor).  Every score amongst the group was at least a 9.7, while each freshmen that competed scored at least a 9.8 in one of their routines.     

FAMILIAR FACES
Friday’s meeting with Auburn will mark the 18th time the Sooners have faced a team from the state of Alabama since 2003.  AU and OU have squared off on three occasions since ‘03, while Oklahoma has faced Alabama, the other collegiate squad from the Yellowhammer State, 15 times during that period.   

 
 SOONER TO WATCH

Jackie Flanery | Sr. | VT-UB-FX 
 
The reigning Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honoree posted event wins on bars and floor in OU’s upset victory over No. 4 Florida on Jan. 8.

Flanery posted a career-high 9.85 on bars in her first routine on the apparatus since the 2008 season, before sealing the season-opening win with a 9.875 on floor from the anchor position.

   

NO “I” IN TEAM
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, 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.    

VISE “FLOORS” THE CROWD
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.  

HOME SWEET HOME
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.

TWO TOP COACHES
OU's season opener will feature two recent recipients of the National Association of Collegiate
Gymnastics Coaches (NACGC) Coach of the Year award.  K.J. Kindler received the accolade in 2005 while at Iowa State, while Florida's Rhonda Faehn was named the national coach of the year in 2007.

ELITE COMPANY
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.   

CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA IN 2010
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.

FOLLOWING THE SOONERS
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. 

KINDLER TABS THREE TO 2011 CLASS
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. 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
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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