June 16, 2009

 
  A Look Back at the Big 12 Champs
OU in Preseason Magazines

Back-to-Back Big 12 Conference Champions
 
  Season Notes

Another Big 12 title
The Big 12 title is coming back to Norman for the second straight year as OU won its eighth overall conference title on March 21.  

The victory marks the first time Oklahoma has won back-to-back conference titles since reeling off three-straight Big Eight crowns from 1984-1986.

Haley DeProspero (beam), Megan Ferguson (bars and beam) and Ashley Jackson (bars) became OU's latest conference event champions, as Oklahoma clinched event titles on beam and floor.  

"It's always exciting to be able to call yourselves the Big 12 Champs," said OU head coach K.J. Kindler.  "This has been one of our goals since the offseason.  It's one of those events that you wake up in the morning with a knot in your stomach and that doesn't leave until the last routine.  You want it so bad for your athletes, who have worked so hard during the entire year and it's so exciting to see their hard work result in another conference title."


Ferguson Snags All-America Honor
Megan Ferguson capped off OU's 2009 season with a share of seventh place in the individual event finals on beam at the NCAA Championships in Lincoln, Neb., on April 18.

Ferguson posted a 9.8375 on the apparatus, highlighted by the addition of a back handspring onodi (E-level skill).

Ferguson qualified for the individual event finals with her fourth-place 9.9 on beam in the preliminary competition. It resulted in the programs 32nd All-America honor and marked the fourth year in a row that Oklahoma has had a gymnast garner All-America status, as Ferguson became OU’s first first-team All-American on beam since Kasie Tamayo earned that distinction in 2004.

Vise Posts High Score of the Year
Bars and beam specialist Hollie Vise posted a career-high 9.95 in capturing the beam title at Iowa State on Feb. 27. The Dallas, Texas, native earned Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honors for her efforts.

It shared the highest score of the season by an OU gymnast, joining Ashley Jackson's floor routine at TWU.



Sooners Post Top Mark in the NCAA
The Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad posted the highest score in the NCAA through three weeks of the 2009 season with a 197.175-189.600 victory against Texas Woman's University on Jan. 17.

The Sooners claimed every team and individual event title of the dual meet in front of a capacity crowd of 1,107 inside Kitty Magee Arena on the TWU campus.

It was OU's best team score since Jan. 24, 2004 (197.300).

Oklahoma was without the services of Haley DeProspero on vault and floor and senior all-arounder Jessica Kinder on all four events, yet still posted all four event scores of 49.125 or better.

SoonerSports.com takes a closer look back at the 2009 season of the OU women's gymnastics squad. Closing the year ranked in the top 10 for the fourth-straight season, Oklahoma won its second consecutive Big 12 title and made a program-best sixth-straight appearance at the NCAA Championship.
 
NORMAN, Okla. -- Another year, another title for the OU women's gymnastics squad. The Sooners (196.125) defended their come-from-behind 2008 crown by holding off second-place Nebraska (196.075) at the 2009 Big 12 Championship on March 21. Missouri placed third (195.925), as host squad Iowa State rounded out the team scoring in fourth (195.775). 

The victory marked OU's eighth conference title (2009,'08,'04,'93,'91,'86,'85,'84) and first ever in Ames.  Oklahoma has now won a conference title in every Big 12 venue.

With a second-place showing at the NCAA Northeast Regional, the Sooners advanced to their sixth straight NCAA Championships, joining  Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Utah as the only schools to advance to the event each year since 2004. OU capped off its season with a 10th-place finish at the season-ending event, marking its fourth straight top-10 showing.

2009 was supposed to be the Oklahoma debut of a freshman sensation and it proved so - just not the one everyone had anticipated last summer. After Natasha Kelley tore her achilles during the fall training period, the Sooners looked to others to fill the void and fellow frosh Megan Ferguson certainly did her part. The Olathe, Kan., native garnered All-America status on beam at the 2009 NCAA Championship and became the first freshman in Big 12 history to win multiple event titles at the conference championship. A winner on bars and beam at the Big 12 meet, Ferguson is only the second Sooner gymnast to claim a Big 12 crown in her freshman campaign, joining Ashley Cooney who won the vault title in 2004.  

Oklahoma held its own against the Big 12 once again, posting a 6-1 mark in 2009. The Sooners have reeled off an impressive 17-2 mark against conference opponents since the start of the 2007 schedule.  Winner of the last two Big 12 titles, the Sooners are the only conference squad to advance to the NCAA Championships each of the last two seasons. 

While Oklahoma has been in the NCAA Championships field every year since 2004 (six years in a row), the other Big 12 squads have a combined six appearances during that timespan.

OU   Season Superlatives

SOLID REGIONAL PERFORMANCE
OU's regional score of 196.600 was its highest team tally at a regional since winning the 2004 NCAA West Regional in Corvallis, Ore., with a team result of 197.100.

Oklahoma won the regional event title on vault (49.175), spurred on by Melanie Root's event-title sharing 9.9, while the Sooners shared floor honors with Alabama after a season-best-tying 49.325.

ON TOP OF THEIR GAME
The Sooners had three gymnasts that posted at least 13 routines of 9.85 or higher in 2009, led by Ashley Jackson and Megan Ferguson with 17.  Hollie Vise posted 13 routines at 9.85 or better, despite only specializing on bars and beam.

• NOT ACTING LIKE NEWCOMERS
Of the 93 routines competed by gymnasts making their first collegiate appearance on the respective apparatus in 2009, a remarkable 56 (.602) have gone for a 9.8 or better. 

Ferguson has tallied 23 routines at 9.8 or higher, while fellow frosh Sara Stone leads the respective group with an average of .750 at 9.8 or higher ( 15-of-20).    

• ROAD SWEET ROAD
Posting a then-NCAA-best 197.175 in Denton, Texas, on Jan. 17, and a 196.800 at Iowa State on Feb. 27, the road was kind to the Sooners again in 2009.  Five of OU's top seven scores 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) come on the road.  Oklahoma is the only squad in the top 10 to have both of its top two season scores come in road competition.

ANOTHER SPECTACULAR SEASON                       
OU (20-12) picked up two wins at the NCAA Championship to reach the 20-win plateau for the third consecutive season (every year of K.J. Kindler's tenure).  Oklahoma's victory over North Carolina in its tri-meet at Alabama on March 13, was the 400th in program history. 

SHARING THE WEALTH                       
Oklahoma had seven gymnasts with at least four individual event titles in 2009, led by Ashley Jackson's 10.  The Sooners were the only squad ranked in the final top-15 GymInfo poll without a gymnast in the top-25 all-around rankings. 

TRADE IN THE LEOTARDS FOR STETHESCOPES 
Capping off their collegiate careers with back-to-back Big 12 titles, Haley DeProspero and Gina Lesko have both been accepted into medical school for the 2009-10 year. DeProspero will attend The University of Texas at Houston Medical School in the fall, while Lesko is studying at the OU College of Medicine in Oklahoma City.

ACADEMIC HONORS POUR IN FOR DEPROSPERO 
Former University of Oklahoma gymnasts Haley DeProspero and Jake Messina were among 24 Big 12 student-athletes selected to receive 2008-09 Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarships, the conference office announced on June 2.

The scholarships are named in honor of the late Dr. Gautt, a former Big 12 Conference staff member and student services’ pioneer. Also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Gautt was the first African-American to receive a scholarship from OU to play football, breaking down racial barriers that opened doors to other Sooner student-athletes. The university posthumously celebrated the 50th anniversary of his historic actions at OU during the 2006 Sooner football season and OU’s student-athlete academic center is named in his honor.

Gautt passed away in March 2005.

DeProspero and Messina were two of a record 117 OU student-athletes to graduate during the current academic year with degrees in zoology and environmental science, respectively.

An eight-time honoree on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll and recipient of the OU Athletic Director’s Leadership Award in 2009, DeProspero was recently named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America third team, awarded by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

A four-time NACGC All-Academic Scholar, DeProspero was also a three-time Academic All-Big 12 first team selection.

SOONERS WELL REPRESENTED ACADEMICALLY
Eight University of Oklahoma women's gymnasts have been named to the 2009 Academic All-Big 12 Gymnastics Team, including six first-team members, the conference announced on March 18.

It's an additional two gymnasts from last season, when the Sooners had six members of the squad earn the distinction (four on the first team).  OU's eight honorees were second only to Iowa State's Big 12-leading nine honors.

Garnering first-team accolades in 2008-09 were Haley DeProspero (health and exercise science), Jackie Flanery (human relations), Jessica Kinder (health and exercise science), Gina Lesko (zoology), Natalie Ratcliff (elementary education) and Hollie Vise (human relations).  

Representing Oklahoma on the second team were Ashley Jackson (zoology) and Melanie Root (human relations).

OKLAHOMA DOMINATES CONFERENCE ACCOLADES
OU claimed a conference-leading eight spots on the 2009 gymnastics All-Big 12 Team, the conference office announced on March 18.

The conference awarded the top four Big 12 gymnasts with the highest regional qualifying score (RQS) in each event, excluding the all-around.

Earning spots on both bars and beam were junior Hollie Vise and freshman Megan Ferguson.  The Oklahoma duo was two of only five Big 12 gymnasts to garner multiple event distinctions, while Ferguson was the only freshmen to earn a spot on the team. 

Vise leads the Big 12 on bars with a RQS of 9.87, while Ferguson ranks fourth in the conference on the apparatus with an RQS of 9.85.  The pair stands third and fourth, respectively, on beam with RQS averages of 9.89 for Vise and 9.865 for Ferguson.

Oklahoma’s Ashley Jackson (9.885), Sara Stone (9.86) and Melanie Root (9.85) are ranked second, third and fourth on vault in earning a spot on this year’s All-Big 12 Team.

Rounding out the OU honors was junior Kristin Smith, who stands fourth in the conference on floor with a RQS of 9.88. 

Vise earned multiple honors for the second consecutive season on bars and beam, while Jackson made the All-Big 12 team on floor a year ago. 

OU   Postseason Honors

OU Most Outstanding Gymnast - Award embodies the whole student-athlete from academics, athletics, community service, campus organizations, social representation.  This athlete goes above and beyond in all areas. 

2009 Winner: Kristin Smith
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OU Most Valuable Gymnast - Award is based strictly on athletic performance.  An athlete you could count on to come through with a big score when needed most.

2009 Winner: Haley DeProspero and Ashley Jackson
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Newcomer of the Year - Award is based on season statistics and is given to the freshman or transfer athlete that
posted strong scores in all events throughout the entire season.

2009 Winner: Megan Ferguson
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Clutch Performance of the Year
- Scoring a career-high 9.85 on floor from the first position at the NCAA Northeast Regional, Sara Stone kept the Sooners NCAA Championships hopes alive as Missouri was gaining ground.

2009 Winner: Sara Stone
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OU Spirit Award - This athlete goes to the spirit of the team. Their positive and uplifting attitude and remarks had an amazing influence on team unity and team inspiration.  This person creates an electric environment in practice and competitions.  A true team builder.

2009 Winner: Candace Cindell
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OU Most Improved Award  - This athlete demonstrated improvement in their gymnastics development from August through May.  They learned new skills, competed on additional events from the year prior, were prepared to compete where they may have not been in the past and improved in consistency from previous seasons.

2009 Winner: Melanie Root

Video  OU Gymnastics: One Big Family | Photos  The Year in Pictures | Schedule & Results

 

2009 Season Bests: Team Total: 197.175 (@ TWU - Jan. 17)
Vault: 49.400 (TWU / Illinois State - March 6)
Bars: 49.250 (TWU / Illinois State - March 6, @ Alabama - March 13)
Beam: 49.525 (@ TWU - Jan. 17)
Floor: 49.325 (@ TWU - Jan. 17, @NCAA Northeast Regional - April 4)

 

2009 Individual Highs:
All-Around: 39.375 - Ashley Jackson
Vault: 9.925 - Ashley Jackson
Bars: 9.9 - Megan Ferguson and Hollie Vise
Beam: 9.95 - Hollie Vise
Floor: 9.95 - Ashley Jackson