March 6, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. -- The seventh-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics squad improved to 9-3 on the year with a tri-meet victory over Illinois State and Texas Woman’s University on Senior Night at the Lloyd Noble Center on Friday. The Sooners swept all four event titles and a share of every individual event honor for the second consecutive meet and third time this season.
Oklahoma senior Ashley Jackson capped off her home campaign in stellar fashion, winning her third all-around crown of the season (39.200).
OU improved to 19-1 in its last 20 regular season home meets, posting a team tally of 196.125 in front of 847 fans. Illinois State placed second (191.750), while TWU rounded out the meet with a score of 191.300. The Sooners have won 40 of their last 43 regular-season matchups dating back to Jan. 19, 2007.
Oklahoma was on season-high pace at the halfway mark (98.650), but counted its first fall on beam this year and had its worst floor score since its season opener at Florida to close the meet.
“We were off to such a great start before a couple of untimely mistakes starting on beam,” said OU head coach K.J. Kindler. “Haley (DeProspero) hasn’t had a fall in two years until tonight and I have no less faith in our beam team than I did entering the meet. There is a reason they were ranked No. 4 in the country on the event leading into tonight and if it had to happen sometime this season, I’m happy it happened before the postseason. We are going to start competing for championships in the next few weeks and must be much more precise across the board if we want to fulfill our goals.”
OU was without the services of vault and floor specialist Jackie Flanery, who was scratched from the lineup after tweaking her right ankle on a fall during floor warm-ups. The Plattsburg, Mo., junior will undergo a full medical evaluation on Monday.
“There is no telling how long Jackie is going to be out of the lineup, so we are going to have to have others step up in her absence,” added Kindler. “They have trained all season for this opportunity and need to use this as a chance to shine.”
The Sooners burst out of the gates with a season-high 49.400 on vault, counting no score lower than a 9.85, as OU gymnasts placed first through fifth on the leaderboard. The Sooners received an event-winning 9.925 from Jackson, who matched her career high on the apparatus. Freshman Sara Stone posted a career-best 9.9 from the anchor position, while Melanie Root also matched a personal best (9.875). Haley DeProspero and Natalie Ratcliff closed out the counted OU scores with matching 9.85s.
OU kept its season-high event streak going on bars, posting a 49.250. Root and Kinder posted matching 9.875s from the second and third position, respectively, for event honors. Kinder and Root’s scores both marked career highs, as the duo both won a share of their second bars title. Neither gymnast had competed on the apparatus prior to this season. Jackson scored a 9.8 before Megan Ferguson and Hollie Vise capped off the rotation with a pair of 9.85s.
Oklahoma held a 98.650-95.600 lead over Illinois State at the halfway mark. TWU was in third with a score of 95.400 through two rotations.
The Sooners were forced to count their first fall this year, resulting in a team tally of 48.625. Vise won her second event title of the night, scoring a 9.925 from the fifth position, for her eighth individual event title of the 2009 season. Ferguson and Kristin Smith scored 9.8s, while Jackson posted a 9.775 from the first spot.
Every Oklahoma senior was in action as Gina Lesko exhibitioned on beam at home for the first time during her collegiate career.
Oklahoma clinched the victory with a 48.850 on floor. OU received an event-winning 9.875 from Smith, who her clinched her second straight floor title after an event-winning 9.9 at Iowa State last weekend. Kinder had a 9.775 in her last home routine as a Sooner, while Ferguson and DeProspero posted matching 9.75s.
The Sooners close their regular season slate on the road at the University of Alabama on March 13. OU’s meet with the Crimson Tide, a Super Six squad from 2008, will also feature North Carolina.