CEDAR CITY, UtahThe University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team (14-3) finished its regular season with a 196.025-195.925 win against Southern Utah.
“We hit 24 of 24 and didn’t miss a routine,” OU head coach Steve Nunno said. “There were a couple of sloppy landings on our first two rotationsbars and vaultbut we had a nice floor routine and clinched victory on beam.”
OU trailed Southern Utah by 0.1 points after the first rotation, but took the lead after vault (49.150) where sophomore Ashley Cooney returned to the lineup after a three-week absence.
“It was great to have Ashley back on vault,” Nunno continued. “I think she was the difference in the win. Without her, we might have missed a couple tenths that would have cost us the meet.”
Cooney suffered an ankle sprain during a floor routine against Iowa State on Feb. 25. The Plano, Texas, native returned to competitive action last week against LSU when she performed a bars routine.
“Ashley is coming back strong,” Nunno said. “She competed in the first two events and did an exhibition on beam. She didn’t do a floor routine, but she warmed-up a little. She’ll be ready to go next week at the Big 12 Championships.”
The Sooners’ floor routine netted a 49.0 while the Thunderbirds’ beam squad scored a 49.2 to tighten the overall score after three rotations.
“We were about a tenth ahead going into the final rotation,” Nunno said, “and it was neck-and-neck. We had to have everyone stick their routines to keep the lead and Caitlin Hinkis had a clutch performance that sealed our victory.”
Hinkis, the final Sooner competitor, ended the night with an impressive 9.85 routine. The freshman, who started the year as a bars specialist, has performed on beam in the last four meets, averaging a 9.78.
“It was good to go on the road and score above our overall average,” Nunno said. “I’m really proud of the girls for hitting all their routines. For being on the road during Spring Break, we looked really good.”
Oklahoma’s score was its best on the road this season and just the fourth above 196.
Sooners captured three individual titles as Brittney Koncak shared victory with SUU’s Molly Bauer on vault (9.85), Cooney won on bars (9.85) and Erin LaBarr won on floor (9.9).
Koncak and LaBarr shared second place in the all-around, finishing one tenth behind Southern Utah’s Leah Sakhitab (39.300).
“Coming away with a tight win on the road is great preparation for the Big 12s,” Nunno said. “It will be a tight competition and very exciting. I’m really proud of our 14-3 regular season and I can’t wait to get back in the gym next week.”
The University of Oklahoma hosts the Big 12 Championships on Saturday, March 26, at 7 p.m. The Sooners begin their title defense as they began the 2004 championshipson vault.