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No. 4 OU Eyes Fourth-Straight Big 12 Title
March 18, 2011

March 18, 2011

 2011 Big 12 Championship
 Date  Saturday, March 19 | 2 p.m. (CT)
 Location  Columbia, Mo . | Hearnes Center
 Tickets  1-800-CAT-PAWS
 Online  Live Stats
 Blog  A Look Back at the Three-Peat
 Meet Notes  Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. -The fourth-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team will compete for its unprecedented fourth-straight Big 12 Championship on Saturday, March 19 at 2 p.m., at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo.

Oklahoma (15-0, 3-0 Big 12) clinched its third perfect regular season in four years, and second-straight, last weekend with its 196.875-194.800 win over Michigan State. OU finished the regular season as the only unbeaten team in the NCAA for the second-straight season.

OU has won the last three conference titles, the second team in conference history to do so. Nebraska has won eight total Big 12 titles, including three-straight from 1997-1999 and 2001-2003. OU and Nebraska have won a combined 12 Big 12 titles while Iowa State has two.

OU is the top-ranked team in the Big 12 at No. 4, in front of No. 11 Nebraska and No. 20 Iowa State. The Sooners led the league with their nine All-Big 12 selections announced Wednesday.

Megan Ferguson (bars, beam, floor), Natasha Kelley (bars, beam), Kayla Nowak (floor), Taylor Spears (beam), and Sara Stone (vault, floor) represented OU on the all-conference squad.

Kelley and OU freshman Madison Mooring were also named Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week and Newcomer of the Week, respectively, for March 15 in the final week of the conference honors.

At the 2010 Big 12 Championship, the Sooners clinched their third-straight title with a 197.175 to finish ahead of the second-place Huskers who posted a 196.625

ON THE WEB:
Live scoring for Saturday's championship can be found at www.MUTigers.com, the official site for Missouri athletics.

ROTATIONS:
Oklahoma will start the competition on floor before heading to vault, bars and finishing on beam. Iowa State will start on vault, Nebraska will start on bars and Missouri will start on beam.

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MEET NOTES:
 
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE
The Sooners became the only remaining undefeated team in the NCAA on March 5 as OU finished first in its quad meet with No. 17 Illinois, No. 13 Illinois and TWU on March 4 while previously-unbeaten No. 3 Stanford lost to Oregon State that Saturday, leaving OU as the lone unbeaten team.

REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
OU clinched its third perfect regular season in four years (and second-straight) last Friday with its 196.875-194.800 win over Michigan State in Norman. The Sooners went 14-0 in 2010 and finished 2011 at 15-0, bringing its current nation-leading regular-season win streak to 29 victories. OU’s last regular-season loss was to Alabama in Tuscaloosa on March 13, 2009. Oklahoma is 67-6 in the regular season under Kindler.

BALANCED ATTACK
Oklahoma has 10 gymnasts ranked in the top 25 over all four events, including four in the top 10. Sara Stone is ranked No. 9 on vault while Natasha Kelley is No. 24. Kelley is also ranked on bars at No. 10 while Megan Ferguson is No. 23. Ferguson is also No. 5 on beam while Kelley is No. 9 and Taylor Spears is No. 20. Ferguson, Stone and Kayla Nowak are all tied at No. 15 on floor. The Sooners are ranked in the top 10 on all four events as a team, OU is No. 7 on vault, No. 10 on bars, No. 2 on beam and No. 3 on floor.

BEAM QUEENS
Oklahoma remains ranked No. 2 on beam this week after scoring a 49.000 or
higher for the tenth time this season in OU’s win over the Spartans. An OU gymnast has scored a 9.9 or higher on beam 10 times this season, including a 9.95 from freshman Madison Mooring against TWU on Jan. 23. OU has three individuals ranked in the top 20 on the event, Megan Ferguson is No. 5, Natasha Kelley is No. 9 and Taylor Spears is No. 20. The three Sooners are also in the top four on beam in the Big 12, while Kayla Nowak is ranked No. 5 in the conference.

 
 SOONER TO WATCH

Natasha Kelley | RS-So. | VT-UB-BB
 
Kelley was named the final Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week for 2011 after winning the bars and beam titles against Michigan State and finishing second on vault. Kelley was also named All-Big 12 on both bars and beam, while being named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. Kelley is currently ranked in the top 25 nationall and the top 5 in the Big 12 on vault, bars and beam.

   

LEADING THE CONFERENCE
Oklahoma ends the regular season as the highest ranked team in the Big 12 and also holds the top spot in the conference on both beam and floor. OU led the league with nine selections to the 2011 All-Big 12 Gymnastics Team announced March 16. Megan Ferguson (bars, beam and floor), Natasha Kelley (bars and beam), Kayla Nowak (floor), Taylor Spears (beam) and Sara Stone (vault and floor) represented OU on the 2011 all-conference squad.

A CHANCE AT HISTORY

Oklahoma will compete for its unprecedented fourth-consecutive conference title on Saturday, March 19 at the 2011 Big 12 Championship in Columbia, Mo. If the Sooners take home the crown, it will be the first time in conference history that a team has won four-straight conference championships.

197 AND COUNTING
Oklahoma became just the third team in the NCAA to break 197 twice this season with its 197.025-showing on March 4. OU was the first team to do so on the road, en route to its 197.225-195.375 victory over Iowa State on Feb. 11.

BEATING THE BEST
The Sooners have beaten 10 teams currently ranked in the top 25, including two top 10 teams, five top 15 teams and five programs that competed at the 2010 NCAA Championships.

HOME SWEET HOME
The Sooners are 37-2 in Norman under fifth-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 69 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over then-ranked No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 4 Florida in 2010 as well as wins over Auburn, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford and West Virginia.

ROAD WARRIORS
Six of OU’s highest team scores this season have come away from Norman, including its season-high 197.225 that was set at Iowa State. The Sooners were the first team in the NCAA this season to break the 197 mark on the road. The Sooners are no strangers to road success, OU has posted five of its seven highest scores away from Norman for three-straight seasons. The Sooners are 36-5 on the road during the regular season under head coach K.J. Kindler.

FIRST (AND SECOND) TIME’S THE CHARM
Sophomore Kayla Nowak competed in the all-arounder for the second-straight week for just the second time this season in OU’s quad meet. Nowak scored a 39.275 to win her first all-around title. Nowak scored a career-high 39.375, the week prior against Michigan finishing in second place by just .025 behind then-No. 1 ranked all-arounder, Michigan’s Kylee Botterman who posted a 39.400. With her the 39.375 and 39.275, Nowak is averaging a 39.325 which is the country’s sixth-best average in the all-around.

FEAR THE SPEARS
Freshman Taylor Spears was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for the third time after setting career-highs on all three routines at Iowa State. Spears scored a 9.9 on both bars and beam and a 9.875 on floor. Spears was the first freshman in the Big 12 to score a 9.9 on bars and is the only freshman on OU’s squad to score a 9.9 on multiple events. Spears has scored a 9.8 or higher in eight of her 10 beam routines this season and is the highest-ranked freshman in the Big 12 on beam.

WIN NO. 100
OU improved to 6-0 on the season, with wins over No. 6 Oregon State, No. 23 Denver, Centenary and TWU the weekend of Jan. 23. With the wins, OU Head Coach K.J. Kindler moves to 100 victories at Oklahoma. The Sooners are 109-36-2 overall under Kindler, 37-2 at home, 36-5 on the road and 71-6 in the regular season.

DAZZLING DEBUTS
OU had at least one freshman compete on all four events in all 11 competitions this season. Seventy-four of OU’s routines this season have been performed by freshmen. Taylor Spears is currently ranked No. 20 nationally on beam and has scored a 9.9 on both bars and beam. Madison Mooring has competed on at least two events in every meet and has performed on three events for most of the season. Mooring was the first freshman in the NCAA this season to post a 9.95 on beam. Hayden Ward has competed on bars and floor for the Sooners, Ward and Mooring both joined the team in December following their high school graduations. Hope Bruce set a career-high on beam at Michigan in just her second appearance in the beam lineup with a 9.875.

REGIONALS ON DECK
Oklahoma is hosting one of the six NCAA Regionals on April 2 featuring six of country’s top teams vying for a spot at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. The Norman regional will begin at 4 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center. Tickets are on sale now and are $12 for general admission, $8 for youth/OU students and $5 for groups of 10 or more. For tickets and more information visit SoonerSports.com

CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA IN 2011
Oklahoma started the season ranked No. 4 nationally, the highest preseason ranking in program history. The back-to-back-to-back Big 12 Champions return nine members of the record-breaking 2010 squad, as the team looks to make its second-straight NCAA Super Six in 2011. Headlining OU’s returnees are Megan Ferguson and Natasha Kelley. Ferguson is a two-time All-American and was named All-Big 12 on both bars and beam in 2010. Kelley was named the 2010 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and All-Big 12 on vault and bars. The redshirt-sophomore enters the 2011 season with a career-high 9.925 on vault and 9.9 on both bars and beam. The Sooners welcome four newcomers for the 2011 season. Hope Bruce and Taylor Spears joined the team in the summer of 2010, while Madison Mooring and Hayden Ward began training with the team in December.

FOLLOW 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 these pages as well as a behind-the-scenes blog can be found at www. SoonerSports.com.

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