April 23, 2010
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In its first appearance in the Super Six Team Finals, the fourth-seeded Oklahoma women’s gymnastics squad placed second at the 2010 NCAA Championships, marking the best finish ever by a Big 12 squad.
The Sooners broke program records with their highest event scores at the championships on bars (49.325), beam (49.200) and floor (49.425), and added a 49.300 on vault en route to a 197.250 team tally.
Top-seeded UCLA won its sixth national title with a final score of 197.725, while No. 3 seed Alabama placed third (197.225).
OU’s final result was a full point higher than its previous best showing at an NCAA Championships event, besting the 196.250 the Sooners scored at Salt Lake City, Utah in 2007.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my squad than I am right now,” said fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler. “It’s a testament to the vision, determination and will of this squad. They could have easily come out tight, with the nerves that come along with competing in their first Super Six, but instead decided to make history. This result is not only for the current squad, but the alumni, staff and all of our fans. It’s a great time to be associated with the Oklahoma gymnastics squad.”
The meet was in doubt until the final rotation as five squads eclipsed the 197.000 barrier for the first time in Team Finals history.
Stanford placed fourth (197.100), meet host Florida finished fifth (197.000) and nine-time national champion Utah finished last at 196.225.
Showing no signs of nerves despite competing in front of a packed house in its first appearance at the Super Six, OU opened the meet with five scores of 9.85 or higher.
Senior Hollie Vise proved worthy of her All-America status on Thursday with her second consecutive 9.925 on the apparatus at NCAAs in her only two floor routines ever at the championships.
Top-ranked NCAA floor worker Jackie Flanery and Megan Ferguson added a pair of 9.9s, while Kayla Nowak and Kristin Smith rounded out the team scoring with a pair of 9.85s to kickstart the scoring frenzy.
Ferguson vowed yesterday not to miss her third pass again after yesterday's fall and she backed up her promise, bringing the large OU contingent to their feet where it would remain through the rest of the rotation.
Sara Stone and ‘09 NCAA Regional Vault Champion Melanie Root kept the hot start alive with a pair of 9.9 vaults to pace Oklahoma. Flanery nailed her vault landing en route to a 9.875, while Brie Olson and Natasha Kelley scored 9.825 and 9.8, respectively.
The Sooners showed no signs of cooling down after a bye in the third rotation with a 49.325 on bars. Olson and Vise stuck their respective routines and notched a pair of 9.9s, while Ferguson and Kelley were right behind with 9.85s. Flanery once again proved the initial spark with a 9.825 from the first position.
Nowak chipped in with a 9.75 on beam before things got a bit dicey after a fall from the second position. Oklahoma didn’t flinch, rounding out the rotation with scores of 9.9 (Ferguson and Vise), 9.85 (Smith) and 9.8 (Kelley).
OU’s second-place finish bests Nebraska for the best result by a conference squad in NCAA Championships history. The Huskers placed fourth on three previous occasions (2003, 2000 and 1989).
Oklahoma was ranked ninth in the preseason coaches’ poll, but closed the year ranked first or second in every poll of the year.