NORMAN, Okla. The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team jumped 12 spots in the GymInfo poll this week to No. 9 after winning over Air Force on 1/23/04 and Southern Utah, TWU and Air Force the following day. In addition, the Sooners are ranked No. 1 on uneven bars, it is the first time they have been ranked No. 1 on an event.
OU has scored better than their competition on bars in three meets this season and placed second in the other. They are averaging 49.312, with the University of Washington a close second at 49.225. Consequently, the Huskies are the only team to score higher in a competition against the Sooners, the first meet of the season at the Cancun Classic.
“At this point in the season I can only think of one other time we have been ranked a little higher overall as a team and that was two years ago coming back from Hawaii,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “But we were not scoring as high back then as we are this year. I would say this is a better team as well and I also think people have a little more respect for us at this point. Our bars’ team returns five members of the six from last year, so we pretty much have our whole bars team back and we added four new freshman. Everyone has really stepped it up so far this season.”
Individually, two Sooners are ranked in the top ten in the nation on the uneven bars. First is senior co-captain Kasie Tamayo who won two all-around titles over the weekend and posted two 9.950s on bars in those victories, tying her career mark. Tamayo is fourth in the nation and is averaging 9.925 in the event.
“First of all the team being No. 1 on bars really excited us because we have never been in that position before,” said Tamayo. “It is a huge accomplishment and it is showing that all the hard work in the preseason is paying off and Nilson Savage (assistant coach) has done a great job working with us on that. Myself being No. 4 is great but not as exciting, but if that helps the team be No. 1 then I am happy. I am the anchor for bars and my teammates have been great recording high scores in front of me, basically setting me up to finish things off.”
Second is junior Erin LaBarr who was the 2003 Big 12 Champion on the apparatus, another all-arounder for OU. She is ranked eighth and averaging 9.906, with a season high 9.925 score.
“This is awesome to be ranked individually but that is not one of my goals,” said LaBarr. “The team being No. 1 is definitely more of an accomplishment and as long as I am doing my job that is all that matters. I am just trying to hit my routine each time out.”
So far this year, OU has come close to breaking the school record on the uneven bars of 49.550, established last season. They started off the year with two scores of 49.225 at the Cancun Classic and Super Six and have improved since. In the home opener against Air Force they recorded a 49.325 and followed that up the next day with a 49.475 at TWU.
“I just think the attitude of the entire team is contagious in terms of the willing to sacrifice to get better and the bars team is the first to show that,” said assistant coach Nilson Savage. “I know there is a lot to come in the other three events and this group is capable of beating all the previous scoring records at OU this season.”
The Sooners will return to action for their second home meet of the season on Sunday, Feb. 1 against No. 5 Iowa State at 1 p.m. in the Lloyd Noble Center.