Feb. 19, 2003

MEET PREVIEW

The No. 13 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team hosts its only home Big 12 dual of the season when No. 23 Missouri visits the Lloyd Noble Center, Friday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. OU is currently 0-2 against Big 12 foes (two losses to Nebraska) and 5-6 on the year. Mizzou is 1-1 in conference and 7-4 on the season. The first 300 fans in attendance will receive free OU men's and women's gymnastics trading cards, with an autograph session immediately following the competition.

"This is our only conference home meet and we need to take advantage of that," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "Iowa took us down to the final event and I think Missouri will be just as tough. They are getting better in every competition. Our team is starting to gel and I really like what I see. Plus we are going to have some new additions this weekend. Kristen Cox is going to make her debut on vault and Kasie Tamayo will add a third event by competing on balance beam."

The story for OU continues to center around Senior Patricia Aoki, who has collected 11 career-high marks in the last five meets. Aoki is the NCAA's No. 22 ranked all-around competitor and is No. 6 in the South Central Region. She is No. 3 in the region on floor and the No. 3-ranked bars competitor in the Big 12.

"Patricia is not just have a good year, she is having an exceptional year," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. " All four of her events have improved consistently and dramatically this season. She has been leading this team by example and score. Patricia has an amazing work ethic and that is something the team is learning from her. Her attitude towards gymnastics is rubbing off on the freshmen and that may be her biggest contribution to the team this season."

Freshmen specialists Kelly Haggerty and Meredith Fricke have made the most out of limited competition time. Haggerty is ranked No. 2 in the conference and region and No. 13 nationally on the balance beam. Fricke is No. 4 in the Big 12, No. 5 in the south central region and No. 26 in the NCAA on the floor.

Missouri is led by freshman Laura Schwartzman who won four even titles and set two records in Missouri's last home meet. Schwartzman garnered Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for her performance.

After finishing its three-meet homestand with Missouri, OU heads to Iowa State for another Big 12 conference dual, Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.

Admission to the dual with Missouri is $5 for adults and $2 for children. For more information on tickets, call (800) 456-GoOU. For more information on the OU women's gymnastics team, visit www.soonersports.com.

SOONER RANKINGS

OU jumped up in this week's national rankings thanks to a season-high score of 196.600 against Iowa last weekend. The Sooners now stand at No. 13, up from No. 17 last week, and one spot away from a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Regionals.

On the individual events, OU tops out at No. 9 on the balance beam, where they have six competitors (three freshmen) in the top 100. OU is No. 21 on the floor, No. 23 on the bars and No. 25 on vault. The Sooners will field two new competitors on vault, Kristen Cox and Kasie Tamayo, both of whom will have the highest start values of the group.

HOME MAT ADVANTAGE

When Head Coach Steve Nunno entered the collegiate rankings he saw the lofty home winning streaks that Utah, UCLA and Georgia have had over the years and knew that the Sooners needed to join that group. During his two years at the OU helm, the Sooners have been perfect in Norman. The streak, while short of Utah's 23-year run which ended this season, currently stands at eight straight meets and could be extended to 10 if OU wins its remaing home meets this season.

A ClOSER LOOK AT NO. 23 MISSOURI

Competing in its second straight quad-meet, the Missouri gymnastics team finished third (194.900) to No. 15 Auburn (196.300) and Arkansas (194.975) and beat Centenary (192.175). Freshman Lauren Schwartzman continues her reign as Mizzou's floor diva delivering a team high 9.850 routine. Sophomore Alisha Robison scored a 9.825 in just her second floor routine of the year, while junior Andrea Nervig and senior Alina Hamm each posted 9.800 marks for Missouri. Moving on to the vault, Mizzou maintained its momentum scoring a 48.925 on the apparatus to record the program's third-highest team score in history. Robinson posted her highest vault score of the season hitting a 9.900 vault to take the quad-meet title. Freshman Jodie Heinicka was second on the team scoring a 9.850 to tie for second-place meet honors. Missouri stumbled slightly posting one its lowest scores of the year on the uneven bars. Recording a fall on the apparatus, the Tigers were still able to post a 48.875 team total. Freshman Katie Roets scored her highest routine of the season with a 9.800 performance. She joined Heinicka's career-tying 9.825 presentation to lead the team.

SOONER UPDATES
Karina Agafonova - Set a career-high with a 9.800 on the floor against Iowa.
Tara Anderson - Returned to bars line up against Iowa, scored 9.775.
Patricia Aoki - Perhaps the most improved gymnast in Big 12, has set 11 career-highs during senior season.
Kristen Cox - Highly touted freshman should make debut on vault this weekend.
Meredith Fricke - Freshman may be the biggest surprise on this 2003 squad.
Nicole Gause - Set career-high with 9.800 on beam against Iowa.
Christina Gerard - Ranked No. 38 in the all-around on national level.
Kelly Haggerty - Freshman has hit every time out on the beam.
Katie Hostler - Freshman got back in stride scoring 9.850 and 9.875 on vault and floor.
Erin Labarr - Sophomore landed a 9.850 on bars and a second-place finish against Penn State.
Allison Landis - Swung two near perfect bars routines during the home stand.
Leah Mueller - Coach Nunno expects her to be in the line up at Iowa State, Feb. 28.
Melissa Smith - Consistently improving from meet to meet, scored 9.850 on beam and bars in last meet.
Kasie Tamayo - Should compete on everything but floor against Missouri.

LAST TIME OUT

The Oklahoma women's gymnastics team finished with a vengeance, putting Iowa away 196.600-194.194.725 during the final rotation Feb. 14, at the Lloyd Noble Center in front of a season-high crowd of 706. The Sooners improved to 5-6 on the season and extended their home winning streak to eight meets.

"This is the first meet this season that we didn't count any falls," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "That is something we have to do if we want to compete for nationals and the Big 12 crown. I was proud of the team for picking each other up when things didn't go perfect. Ironically floor won the meet for us tonight and last week it was our worst event. That is a great sign because it shows we are improving."

Senior Patricia Aoki tied for first in the all-around with a score of 39.500, which ties the career-high she set in the prior meet. Aoki finished second on the floor, tying another career-high with a 9.925.

Sophomore Allison Landis hit on a near perfect bars routine scoring a 9.925 and taking the top spot on the event. Freshman Melissa Smith swung to a career-high 9.850 on bars and a fourth place finish.

Stephanie Gran of Iowa landed the only perfect 10 of the evening and took first place on vault, while Aoki landed in second (9.900) and freshman Katie Hostler in third (9.850).

Seniors Aoki and Christy Gerard scored identical 9.900's on the balance beam, as OU collected its highest team score (49.275) on beam this season.

The Sooners were behind after the each of the first three rotations and headed to the final rotation behind by .15. OU posted a season-high team score on floor with a 49.300, while Iowa struggled on beam scoring 47.725.

"I told them we needed to rally and really take it home on the floor," said Nunno. "It was a great event to end on because we showed off for our fans. I am very encouraged in the fact that we learned form the mistakes we made last week. This is great score for us and something we can improve on with a few minor adjustments and corrections."Aoki by .025. Rowland took Penn State's only other top finish, on vault, where she barely edged Aoki again, scoring a 9.950.