NORMAN, Okla. The No. 9 University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team (8-1) heads to Alabama for a showdown with the No. 19 Auburn Tigers (2-4).
The Sooners are entering the second half of the regular season and the defending Big 12 champions own their best record since 1983.
“We are where we expected to be,” OU head coach Steve Nunno said. “Although, we are more consistent that I thought we could be. We have added new moves and routines each week. But with so many experienced gymnasts on the floor, we are making it work. We’ve been up against some tough competition and its good to have this chemistry going.”
This is Oklahoma’s fourth consecutive meet against a ranked opponent, none of which have taken place at OU’s home the Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners defeated No. 22 Ohio State in Columbus on Jan. 29 before losing to No. 6 Nebraska in Lincoln on Feb. 5. Last Sunday, Feb. 13, OU upset No. 7 Georgia 196.7-196.3 in Oklahoma City, as both teams registered season-high final scores.
“It is certainly the toughest schedule we’ve had since I’ve been head coach,” Nunno said. “It’s almost like having a conference, regional and national meet in the middle of the year. To know you can perform well against quality competition on the road is a good feeling.
“I think we are the superior team on vault and bars, if all our vaulters hit. Auburn has a stronger team on beam. I think Auburn has been less consistent in the last few weeks. If they hit all their routines, it will be a close competition.”
Auburn’s last outing was a loss to No. 4 Florida, who also had just come off a win against Georgia. Tiger freshman Julie Dwyer picked up her sixth consecutive event win with a 9.85 beam routine and sophomore Rachel Tarantino shared the floor title with two Gators.
The competition, at Auburn’s Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, begins at 7 p.m. CST.
The No. 9 University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team topped No. 7 Georgia in record-setting fashion Sunday, Feb. 13, at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
The Sooners defeated the Gym Dogs, 196.7-196.3, with both team achieving their best scores of the season.
“It was a big win against a very talented team,” OU head coach Steve Nunno said. “We knew it would be a challenge, but our team performed at its best this season and it showed on the score sheet.”
OU set the tone from the start with each of its six vaulters Coral Borda (9.7), Brittney Koncak (9.85), Erin LaBarr (9.825), Kristen Cox (9.85), Tiffany Willin (9.875) and Ashley Cooney (9.95) recording season highs. Cooney won the event, setting the OU individual season high and matching her career best in the process.
The Sooners managed 14 season-high tallies, individually, and picked up wins on the uneven bars and balance beam with season highs of 49.35 and 49.25, respectively.
After three rotations, OU trailed by 0.075 points. However, a career high floor routine by Cooney (9.95) and two falls on beam by Georgia sealed a Sooner victory.
Three of OU’s four all-arounders scored season-best totals. Cooney matched her best score this season of 39.4, Cox tallied a career-high 39.2 and Koncak scored a season-high 39.4.
Erin LaBarr led the Sooners with a 39.425 all-around score, placing second overall. UGA’s Kelsey Erickson won the all-around, bars and beam.
“Ashley, Erin and Kristen had tremendous performances,” Nunno said, “and our freshmen really stood up to the challenge today.”
Freshman Stephanie LoPiccolo executed a 9.825 beam routine, placing second, and a 9.7 bars routine, both career bests.
Freshman Coral Borda also performed two season-best routines. Borda scored a 9.7 on vault and 9.875 on beam.
BEAMING WITH CONFIDENCE
After rather unimpressive results on the balance beam early in the season, the Sooners have recently brought their game up to par with their performances on the other three apparatuses.
In Oklahoma’s first three meets the team’s average score on beam was 47.908. In the last three meets the average in 49.0, highlighted by the team’s first score above the 49 benchmark, a 49.250, last time out versus Georgia.
On the season, OU averages 48.454 on beam.
The recent string of results has moved the Sooners from a No. 31 beam ranking in week four up 15 spots to No. 16 this week.
GYMINFO TOP 25
Poll No. 6: Feb. 14
1. Utah, U. of 196.35
2. Michigan, U. of 196.25
3. L.S.U. 196.158
4. Florida, U. of 195.958
5. Alabama, U. of 195.921
6. Nebraska, U. of 195.646
7. Georgia, U. of 195.604
8. Iowa State 195.45
9. Oklahoma, U. of 195.437
9. UCLA 195.437
11. Arkansas, U. of 194.979
11. Brigham Young Univ. 194.979
13. Denver, U. of 194.896
14. Penn State 194.7
15. Southern Utah Univ. 194.475
16. Oregon State 194.375
17. Central Michigan 194.35
18. Arizona, U. of 194.271
19. Auburn Univ. 194.262
20. Kentucky, U. of 194.187
21. Arizona State 194.037
22. Ohio State Univ. 194
23. Washington, U. of 193.862
24. Minnesota, U. of 193.792
25. Michigan State 193.687
COONEY EARNS FIRST GYMNAST OF THE WEEK HONOR
Sophomore Ashley Cooney was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for Feb. 1 by the conference office. Cooney earned the honor for the first time in her career.
The sophomore from Plano, Texas, won her third consecutive all-around title with a 39.350 at the Ohio State Triangular. The scored matched her season-high set the previous week. In addition, Cooney won the vault (9.9) and floor (9.875) while helping Oklahoma to the team title. Her vault score also matched a season-high.
Cooney is the second Sooner to earn the honor this season. Senior Erin LaBarr was tabbed as gymnast of the week on Jan. 11.
Cooney is currently ranked No. 7 in all-around competition, sixth on vault and No. 8 on floor exercise.
HIGH START VALUE
Despite falling out of the undefeated ranks last week to Nebraska, the Sooners moved up in the polls one spot to No. 9.
OU recorded its second best start in program history at 7-0 before losing Saturday, Feb. 5, in Lincoln. The best start was recorded in 1985.
Coached by Becky Switzer, the 1985 team swept through their schedule with a 13-0 record before finishing in 10th place at the NCAA Championships.
Sophomore Ashley Cooney was the 2004 Big 12 and West Regional champion vault in her first year at OU and it appears like the Texas native is picking up right where she left off.
Cooney opened the 2005 season with a first place victory on the vault and followed that with another victory last week. Cooney also won the all-around (39.025) against T.W.U.
Against, Kent State, she again won the all-around 39.350). Cooney was victorious in three events and scored a season-high 9.85 on the uneven bars. The Plano, Texas, native also won vault (9.80) and floor exercise (9.9).
At Ohio State, Cooney captured her third consecutive all-around title (39.350), matching her season-high score in the process. She also picked up wins on vault, with a season-high matching 9.9 stick, and floor exercise.
Most recently, Cooney hit two career-high 9.95 routines on vault and floor, clinching victory for the Sooners in an upset win of No. 7 Georgia.
LABARR HONORED BY BIG 12
Erin LaBarr was named the first Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for the 2005 season, the conference office announced Jan. 11. LaBarr earned the honor for the first time in her career.
The senior captain from Bartlesville, Okla., put together an impressive performance to kick off the 2005 season. LaBarr recorded the school’s seventh perfect score with her routine on the bars en route to a first place finish in the all-around at the Second Annual Gymnastics Classic. She led the Sooners with a 39.600 (career high) in the all-around and also won the balance beam (9.9) and floor exercise (9.925) at the Cancun Classic, helping Oklahoma to the team title against then-No. 18 BYU, George Washington and Gustavus Adolphus.
LaBarr is ranked No. 10 in the nation in the all-around, No. 8 on the uneven bars and 16th on the floor exercise.
A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT PERFECTION
LaBarr’s 10.0 on Jan. 7 was the first perfect score for a Sooner since the 2003 season (Allison Landis-uneven bars). It is just the seventh 10.0 in Sooners’ history and the second on the uneven bars.
She also becomes just the third Big 12 gymnast to record a 10.0 on bars since the inception of the conference, joining Nebraska’s Bree Dority (2001) and Landis (2003).
OU SIGNS JACKSON AND DEPROSPERO
The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team announced the signing of Ashley Jackson and Haley DeProspero (pronounced deh-PROSS-per-oh) to National Letters of Intent Nov. 12. Jackson, a native of Hudsonville, Michigan, is a 5-1 gymnast that placed fifth in the all-around at the 2004 Junior Nationals. DeProspero, a native of McKinney, Texas, is a 5-0 elite gymnast who finished first in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise at the 2004 Pike’s Peak Cup.
“We are excited today to announce the signing of these two exceptional gymnasts,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “Haley is one of the most talented athletes in the country and Ashley is one of the most powerful athletes to ever join our team.”
DeProspero competed in the 2003 and 2002 U.S. National Championships finishing 24th and 27th, respectively. In addition to DeProspero’s three first place finishes at the 2004 Pike Peak Cup, she also finished in the top five on three events (3rd-AA, 2nd-beam, 3rd-floor) at the 2004 Sand Dollar Invite. Haley is the daughter of Bob and Dayna DeProspero, both graduates of OU.
“Haley was one of the most highly recruited athletes this year and we are truly excited that she has chosen the University of Oklahoma,” said Nunno. “There is no doubt in my mind that Haley will become a record holder here for women’s gymnastics. She is coming in at the perfect time as we will probably have our most promising team ever in 2006.”
Jackson had a successful outing at the 2004 Junior Nationals in which she not only placed fifth in the all-around but recorded three other top ten finishes. Jackson took ninth on the uneven bars, third on the beam and fifth on the floor exercise at the meet. In other action this year, Jackson was the Michigan State Champion and also placed third in the all-around at the 2004 Region 5 Regionals. The Michigan native also has some international experience, competing with the Region 5 Team at meets in El Salvador and China this past year. Ashley is the daughter of Francis and Minerva Jackson.
“Ashley has a wonderful personality that sparks excitement with everyone she meets,” said Nunno. “She is a great all-around performer and in the words of her coaches, she’s money in the bank’ when it comes to competing.”
OU's 2005 Schedule
*all times local and subject to change.