No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 16 Iowa State (Beauty and the Beast Night)
Friday, Feb. 12 | 7 p.m. (CT)
Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center
Oklahoma Ticket Office | (405) 325-2424
Webcast (w/commentary) for All-Access Subscribers
NORMAN, Okla. - The top-ranked OU women's gymnastics squad hosts No. 16 Iowa State in Oklahoma's annual "Beauty and the Beast" night, competing side-by-side with the ninth-ranked Sooner wrestling squad.
Oklahoma ascended to No. 1 nationally in the latest Troester rankings released Monday, marking the first time in the program's 30-year history that the Sooners have accomplished the feat. OU overtook Alabama in the latest poll, marking the first women's sport at Oklahoma to be ranked No. 1 during the regular season.
OU is 7-0 against the Cyclones under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler, who came to Norman after making her head coaching debut at ISU in 2001. Kindler coached the Cyclones for six seasons, leading them to their first Super Six appearance in 2006.
Individually, Megan Ferguson is ranked as the top beam worker in the country with a 9.885 average (tied with Alabama's Ashley Priess), while Hollie Vise and Jackie Flanery hold top five rankings on bars and floor, respectively. ISU's Ashley Kent is the only Cyclone gymnast ranked in the top 25 on any apparatus. Kent currently stands 12th on beam with a season average of 9.835.
|Oklahoma Roster | 2010 Schedule and Results | Intro Video|
KNOW THE FOE
No. 16 Iowa State (4-4, 0-1 Big 12) enters Friday's meet off of a second place quad meet result at Pitt. The Cyclones posted a team tally of 195.125, just edged out by the Panther's 195.175.
ISU has been ranked as high as No. 13 (last three weeks) before dropping to 16th in the latest rankings. Iowa State has not had a freshman compete this season. The Cyclones posted a 195.775 in their last visit to the Lloyd Noble Center at the 2008 Big 12 Championships, finishing second behind the Sooners.
Iowa State has not defeated a team currently ranked in the top 30 this season and is averaging a 195.492 in its three road events this season.
Oklahoma holds a 40-14-1 lead in the all-time series which dates back to 1981. The Sooners have won all seven meetings in the series under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler, who coached the Cyclones from 2001-06.
Oklahoma ascended to No. 1 nationally in the latest Troester rankings released Monday, marking the first time in the program's 30-year history that the Sooners have accomplished the feat. OU overtook Alabama in the latest poll, marking the first women's sport at Oklahoma to be ranked No. 1 during the regular season. Women's gymnastics joins baseball, football, men's basketball, men's golf, men's gymnastics, softball and wrestling as the eight OU sports to achieve a No. 1 ranking.
The back-to-back Big 12 Champions are the first conference squad to be ranked No. 1 in the country since Nebraska held the top spot for one week of the 2005 season (Feb. 28, 2005 poll).
REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
Oklahoma is 49-6 in the regular season under K.J. Kindler, including a perfect 8-0 mark in 2010. The Sooners went 10-4 during the regular season in 2009, with three of those losses coming on the road (Florida, Nebraska and Alabama).
Senior's Hollie Vise and Jackie Flanery both rank in the top five nationally in the latest individual standings. Vise ranks fourth in the country on bars with individual event titles on the apparatus in every meet this season, while Flanery is ranked fifth on floor with a season-high 9.95 at the Metroplex Challenge.
THAT'S WHY SHE'S AN ALL-AMERICAN
Sophomore All-American and reigning Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week Megan Ferguson is currently ranked as the nation's best beam worker with a season average of 9.885. Ferguson captured the individual event title on the apparatus in last Friday's meet against Nebraska and TWU with a career-high 9.925, while also setting a personal best on floor 9.900 in OU's (8-0, 1-0) tri-meet victory.
It's the first weekly conference honor of Ferguson's career. Ferguson became the third different OU gymnast to garner the award this season, joining Jackie Flanery (Jan. 12) and Hollie Vise (Jan. 26).
HOME SWEET HOME
The Sooners are 25-2 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.
BUT THE ROAD ISN'T BAD EITHER...
The Sooners seek some of the same road success in 2010 that they have exhibited in recent years. On the young season, two of Oklahoma's top three scores have come in road competition, including a 196.650 at No. 25 Illinois. 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).
SOONERS "FLOOR" COMPETITION
OU posted its highest event score on any apparatus under Kindler last week with a 49.600 on the floor exercise. The Sooners closed the rotation with five scores of 9.9 or higher. Oklahoma picked up career highs from Kristin Smith (9.95), Kayla Nowak (9.925), Hollie Vise (9.925) and Megan Ferguson (9.9), while Flanery sealed the win with a 9.9 in the final routine of the night.
As a result, Oklahoma leads the country with a season average of 49.200 on the apparatus.
NO "I" IN TEAM
OU has found a way to win lately despite the lack of a true all-around presence. Oklahoma's only all-around competitor this season was Kayla Nowak against Illinois, 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.
Nowak was a last-minute addition to the vault lineup at Illinois and placed second in her first collegiate all-around appearance.
MORE ON THE TEAM APPROACH
A different Oklahoma gymnast led the team on each event in last week's victory over Nebraska and TWU.
In OU's five meets this season, it has had five different gymnasts post the team's highest score on vault, three on bars, three on beam and two on floor. In all, nine different Oklahoma gymnasts have at least tied for OU's highest score on an event during a meet this season.
Thirty-nine of Oklahoma's 120 routines this season have been performed by freshmen (.325), including exactly half of OU's uneven bars routines (15 of 30). The group is 38-of-39 on the year. Each freshman that has competed has scored at least a 9.8 in one of their routines, while Natasha Kelley has already tallied nine scores of at least 9.85.
Just like last season's second road meet of the season, the OU beam squad provided its breakout performance of the 2010 campaign in its second road outing at Illinois with a team tally of 49.500 on the apparatus. OU reeled off five straight 9.85s or better after a fall from the first position on beam at Illinois. Vise and Smith shared event honors with 9.95s, while Ferguson (9.9), Kelley (9.85) and Nowak (9.85) completed a sweep of the individual event standings on the apparatus.
Oklahoma's beam tally was its second highest event total on the apparatus under Kindler, just behind OU's 49.525 on beam at TWU on Jan. 17, 2009.
RACKING UP THE TITLES
The Sooners have collected 34 of a possible 40 combined individual and team event titles in 2010, including at least six combined individual and team event wins in each meet. OU has won every team event title on bars and floor in 2010.
COMING FROM BEHIND
OU trailed for the first time after any rotation this season as Illinois opened with a 49.100 on vault, to OU's 49.000 start on bars. The Sooners overtook the Fighting Illini during the next rotation and cruised to their eighth-straight win over Illinois, remaining undefeated in the series and posting the second-largest margin of victory in any meeting between the two programs (+2.255).
IN 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.
BEST IN THE COUNTRY
The Sooners have posted team total's of 49.600 on floor and 49.500 on beam, which ranks first and third (tied) nationally on any apparatus this season. OU has posted the highest event score of any Big 12 team on every apparatus in 2010.
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.