Jan. 3, 2002

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Women to Battle Nation's Elite at Maui Invitational

The Oklahoma women's gymnastics team kicks off the 2002 season at the Maui Invitational in beautiful Hawaii, on Friday, Jan. 4. The Sooners are coming off of one of the best seasons in school history and are looking for a repeat trip to the NCAA Championships. OU finished 10th in the nation a year ago and returns every significant contributor from 2001. Also competing at the prestigious event are: Michigan, ranked third in the nation and a favorite to reach the NCAAs in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in April, Arizona, a dynamic team which features the nation's top incoming freshman class, and Sacramento State, a dangerous squad with considerable talent. "The Maui Invitational will be a big challenge for us," said head coach Steve Nunno. "It will be a tough task, but we'll get a good feel for where we are as a team. We're healthy and ready to have a great season in 2002."

Sooner Women to Mix Veteran Faces with Talented Newcomers

Under the direction of co-head coaches Becky Switzer and Steve Nunno, the 2001 women's team reached the NCAA Championships for just the third time in school history and the first time since 1989. After two wins at the national meet, the Sooners finished 10th in the nation and had the most wins in school history. The squad had four All-Big 12 performers and finished third in the conference. OU welcomes back virtually all of last season's comeptitors, led by senior Mariana Goncalves, juniors Leticia Ishii and Patricia Aoki and sophomores Leah Mueller and Kasie Tamayo. Ishii was an all-conference performer on the all-around and floor exercise, while Aoki and Goncalves also claimed All-Big 12 honors on the floor exercise. As a freshman, Tamayo was All-Big 12 in the all-around. Switzer retired from coaching after a very successful 18-year stint as OU's head coach, but the Sooners welcomed Jenny Rowland (formerly Jenny Ester) to the coaching fold. OU will also be bolstered by an extremely talented group of freshmen and newcomers. Allison Landis was one of the most heavily-recruited gymnasts ever from the state of Oklahoma and should be an immediate contributor, as will fellow freshman Jessica Cole. Christy Gerard comes to OU after two years at George Washington, and true freshmen Angel Coleman, Cathy Gribaudo and Erin LaBarr give Nunno and the coaching staff lots of talent to work with.