March 15, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Knocking off the 11th-ranked team in the nation for the second consecutive week, OU tied last meet's season-high team score of 196.750 in defeating Arkansas (196.625) in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,471 fans inside Barnhill Arena.
OU survived a career day from the home team, as Arkansas tied a program record with its team score of 196.625. The Sooners didn't lead until late in the third rotation, but snagged its second-straight victory over an SEC opponent with a 49.275 on beam - the highest team total on the apparatus since the season-opening Cancun Classic.
Picking up its 17th straight victory to open the year, OU added another win to its program-best record to start a season. The Sooners have won 30 of the last 31 regular-season matchups dating back to Jan. 19, 2007. Oklahoma is one of two unbeaten teams in the country (17-0), with undefeated Michigan competing tonight.
Kiara Redmond-Sturms picked up her Big 12-leading ninth all-around title with a 39.575 as teammate Haley DeProspero finished third (39.150). Redmond-Sturms won titles on bars (9.875) and floor (9.95) as teammate Kristin Smith won the first title of her Oklahoma career with a career-high 9.925 on beam.
The Sooners improved to 3-0 all-time against Arkansas, with today's contest being the first between the two schools in the regular season.
Opening the road contest on bars, Bellvue, Colo., native Mary Mantle got the afternoon started with a career-high 9.8 from the first position. Senior Caitlin Hinkis matched Mantle's 9.8 as DeProspero posted a 9.675. Hollie Vise scored a 9.875 from the fourth spot, marking the sixth straight contest the Dallas, Texas, native has scored a 9.825 or higher on the apparatus. Stephanie LoPiccolo scored a 9.225, before Redmond-Sturms anchored the Sooners with a 9.875.
OU trailed 49.025-49.300 after a first rotation that saw Arkansas post a season high on vault after three Gym'Backs' either tied or set career highs on the apparatus.
The Sooners received back-to-back 9.8s from Jackie Flanery and DeProspero to start the vault rotation as freshman Melanie Root had extra reason to celebrate her 19th birthday, scoring a career-high 9.825 in her first vault action since January 11th. Jessica Kinder followed with a 9.775 as OU closed with respective scores of 9.825 and 9.850 from Mantle and Redmond-Sturms, posting a team total of 49.100 on the apparatus.
Slightly cutting into the Arkansas lead in the second rotation, OU trailed 98.125-98.350 at the halfway mark.
Smith scored a career-high-tying 9.85 from the first position as Kinder followed with a 9.7 after stepping out of bounds on her second pass. Mantle scored a 9.775 before DeProspero's season-high 9.875. OU took the lead for the first time on the afternoon as Flanery posted a career-high 9.9 before Redmond-Sturms' second-straight event with a 9.95 on floor.
OU's floor score of 49.350 was its second-highest total of the year as the Sooners took a 147.475-147.275 lead into the final rotation as OU moved to beam and Arkansas closed on floor.
Kinder posted a 9.75 from the first spot before Redmond-Sturms clinched the all-around title with a career-high-tying 9.9. In the best performance of the Oklahoma City, Okla., sophomore's career, Smith posted a career-high 9.925. It was the first time Smith had eclipsed the 9.9 mark on any event of her OU career. LoPiccolo had a 9.725 before Vise (9.9) became the third OU gymnast to score a 9.9 or higher on the event. DeProspero clinched the Sooner win with a 9.8 from the anchor position.
"I thought we got off to a little slow start on bars, as I know we are a better team than that," said head coach K.J. Kindler. "From that point forward, we lit a fire under them and they performed to their absolute best. We are excited about the score, but more importantly, we are hitting routines consistently and preparing for the postseason."
"Beam was obviously an awesome performance and when you go into beam with such a narrow lead, you have to be near perfect with the home team on floor and we were," Kindler added. "We were spot-on the final three rotations, but had no choice with the way Arkansas was pushing us."
The Sooners travel to Minneapolis, Minn., for a match-up with the Golden Gophers of Minnesota on March 22 to close out the regular season. Oklahoma hosts both the Big 12 Championship (March 29) and NCAA South Central Regional (April 12) at the Lloyd Noble Center.