Feb. 27, 2003

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MEET PREVIEW

The No. 19 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team hits the road for a crucial Big 12 dual with No. 16 Iowa State, Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. OU enters the meet in the midst of three consecutive victories overt top 20 opponents. The Sooners sealed an important victory over Missouri in the final rotation last weekend and can take sole possession of second place in the conference with a defeat of the Cyclones Friday.

"They are ranked ahead of us now," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "Iowa State has always been evenly matched with us during the regular season. They are well coached and always have a good team. It will come down to who's going to have the best meet because on paper we are pretty even. We have to be able to put all four events together."

Oklahoma has won nine consecutive home meets and is yet to fall in Norman under Nunno, but the Sooners haven't been as successful on the road this season. OU finished sixth in the Super Six Challenge, to start the season, and dropped a Big 12 dual at No. 3 Nebraska, Feb. 1. OU's lone road victory in 2002 was over Texas Women's University on Jan. 17.

"We finally have all of our horses in the race," said Nunno. "All 14 of the gymnasts on the team will compete this weekend. I am really encouraged by our team on floor, they know they can be the best. Our vaulting is really improving thanks to the boost of some new skills from our gymnasts. Kristen Cox came out and landed a very difficult vault in her first meet of the season. Leah Mueller showed that she is a tested veteran and did the same thing on bars."

OU split two meets with Iowa State last season.The Sooners won the home dual but finished third at the Big 12 Championships behind the Cyclones and Nebraska. Much like OU, ISU relies heavily on a talented freshman class. Freshman Erin Dethloff was named Big 12 Gymnast of the Week on Jan.21 and has broken the ISU freshman all-around record.

The women's gymnastics program will honor seniors Leah Mueller, Patricia Aoki and Christy Gerard when it hosts a triangular meet with Texas Women's University and Centenary on March 7 at 7 p.m.

Admission to the March 7 meet 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.

ROOKIE RECORD

Freshman Meredith Fricke has played an instrumental part in Oklahoma's success this season. Fricke was the early season surprise from OU's stellar freshman class and has continued to impress. This past weekend Fricke tumbled her way into OU history, recording a 9.95 on the floor exercise and tying the Oklahoma school record. Fricke is the only freshman to hold the record, which she shares with four former Sooners. Currently, Fricke is ranked at No. 23 on the floor, with an average score of 9.889.

AOKI STAYS HOT

Senior Patricia Aoki has been rewriting her Oklahoma gymnastics legacy on a weekly basis. Aoki has recorded 13 career-high scores in the last five meets and has hit on 18 of 23 routines during that span. This past weekend against Missouri, Aoki tied her personal best on vault and floor with identical 9.925's.

SOONER UPDATES

Karina Agafonova - Solid on floor against Missouri with 9.825.

Tara Anderson - Bars specialist has scored 9.775 or better in the last three meets.

Patricia Aoki - Of her 27 performances this season, only eight have garnered below 9.800.

Kristen Cox - Freshman stuck a 9.850 in debut on vault, finishing second on event.

Meredith Fricke - Fricke's lowest floor score this season is 9.825.

Nicole Gause - Set career-high with 9.825 on vault against Missouri.

Christina Gerard - Senior continues to post consistently high scores.

Kelly Haggerty - Missed on the beam against Missouri for the first time this season.

Katie Hostler - Finished second on floor with career best of 9.925 against Mizzou.

Erin Labarr - Still consistent on vault despite being bumped out of rotation on bars.

Allison Landis - Swung two near perfect bar routines during the home stand.

Leah Mueller - Returned to lineup quicker than expected and finished second on bars against Mizzou.

Melissa Smith - Tied career-high with 9.850 on balance beam against Missouri.

Kasie Tamayo - Despite the fact that she is still recovering from strained calf muscle, the junior finished first on uneven bars.

LAST TIME OUT

The No. 13 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team defeated the No. 23 Missouri Tigers, 195.350-194.150, Feb. 21, at the Lloyd Noble Center. OU trailed going into the final rotation but posted its highest score of the season on the floor exercise to pull out the victory. Oklahoma improved to 6-6 on the season, while Missouri drops to 7-5.

"We had some difficulty on floor early in the season and floor is now our strongest event," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "We hit on three events tonight. Unfortunately, we really struggled on beam. Vaulting was exceptional for us tonight. Bars, floor and vault have really come along. I don't have a rally monkey yet... but this makes two consecutive meets that we have pulled out in the final rotation. I am very proud of the tenacity of this squad and the way they pulled together as a unit."

Senior Patricia Aoki took the all-around title, despite an uncharacteristic fall on beam, with a 39.00. Aoki snagged a first place finish on vault with a score of 9.925, which tied a career-high. Aoki set another career best on floor, scoring a 9.925 again. The senior co-captain has set 13 career-high scores in the last five meets.

"Patricia has been exceptional in every meet," said Nunno. "She had a mistake on beam but her routine was exceptional besides that error. She is the leader of this team, everyone feeds off of her strength."

Freshman Meredith Fricke tumbled a near perfect floor routine and notched a career-high and team meet-high score of 9.950 for first on the event. Fellow rookies Katie Hostler and Aoki tied for second with 9.925's. Freshman Melissa Smith scored a Sooner-high of 9.850 on the balance beam and finished third.

Despite being pulled off the vault and beam at the last minute, Kasie Tamayo managed to collect a 9.900 on the bars and the top score on the event. Leah Mueller competed for the first time this season and ended up in second place behind Tamayo with a bars score of 9.875. Aoki finished third on bars with a 9.850.

"Leah Mueller came in on bars after her injury and nailed her first competitive routine this season," said Nunno. "Kristen Cox also debuted and scored one of our best vault scores. Our team score was lower tonight but we progressed on three events. I think by the end of the regular season, we'll be ready to make a run at the Big 12 Championship."

HOME MAT ADVANTAGE

When Head Coach Steve Nunno entered the collegiate ranks 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 nine straight meets and could be extended to 10 if OU wins on Senior Night, March 7.

A ClOSER LOOK AT NO. 16 IOWA STATE

The Iowa State gymnastics team earned another win on the road after defeating Minnesota Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis (196.550-196.400). The Cyclones are now 4-5 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12. The squad is ranked 16th nationally. The Cyclones are rated No. 16 on vault, No. 13 on beam and No. 12 on the floor. On the vault senior Karen Kuplicki tied for first place with a 9.85. Chee Chee Calina and Erin Dethloff placed in a three-way tied for third with 9.80. Dethloff took second place on the bars with a 9.90. Calina came in fourth with a 9.85. Calina shared first place honors with teammate Susan Stock on the beam at 9.925. This score marked career highs for both student-athletes. Senior Courtney Sarrett tied for fourth with a season high 9.850. Dethloff placed in a three-way tie for second on the floor with a 9.925. Dethloff took first place in the all-around with a 39.40. She is now ranked No. 12 nationally and No. 2 in the Big 12. She is tied for No. 12 on bars and tied for No. 11 on the floor.

AROUND THE BIG 12

Missouri Tigers

Missouri scored a 49.075 on the vault against Oklahoma to tie its third highest all-time mark on the apparatus. Freshman Katie Roets scored a career-high 9.825 to help the Tigers. Missouri hosts the Ninth Annual Corvette Cup this weekend welcoming Eastern Michigan, Southeast Missouri State and Texas Woman's University to the four-team event. All-American Alisha Robinson continues to put up solid marks for the Tigerswhile recovering from a foot injury. She scored a 9.850 on the floor against Oklahoma and recorded a 9.875 mark on the balance beam. After taking a fall on the vault during Cat Classic competition earlier this season, junior Lindsay Davis is back in action on the apparatus. Overcoming jitters and seven stitches, Davis competed on the vault for the first time since her accident as an exhibition competitor against Oklahoma. She scored a 9.625. Working her way back from a sprained ankle, Andrea Nervig posted her standard marks on the uneven bars scoring a 9.850 against Oklahoma. She looks to re-enter the Mizzou floor lineup this weekend at the Corvette Cup.

Nebraska Huskers

Nebraska claimed the Masters Classic title with a school-record total of 198.025 Sunday afternoon. In front of a crowd of 2,122, NU extended its winning streak at home to 48 and won its ninth Masters Classic title as it defeated Kent State (192.90), LSU (196.025) and Washington (196.725). Nebraska becomes just the third school in the nation to break the 198 barrier this season, joining UCLA and Arizona State. Junior Richelle Simpson ran away with the all-around title and broke the school all-around record in the process with a score of 39.800. Simpson scored a 9.975 on vault, 9.90 on bars, 9.975 on beam and 9.95 on floor to tie UCLA's Onnie Willis for the top all-around score in the nation this season. Simpson's total broke Heather Brink's three-year-old record of 39.70 set on April 1, 2000. The Huskers next dual will be against Penn State, Saturday, March 1, at 6 p.m. in State College, Pa.