March 29, 2003
NORMAN, Okla.-The No. 6 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team finished just short of its first ever Big 12 Championship in Columbia, Mo., tonight behind No. 2 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 197.500-197.025. Missouri (196.700) and Iowa State (195.700) rounded out the competition in third and fourth, respectively. Oklahoma improves to 15-9 on the season and awaits the announcement of NCAA Regional placement on Monday.
"We had a great meet and finished second," said OU Head Coach Steven Nunno. "That is probably where we should have finished because Nebraska is No. 2 in the country. We didn't count any falls and we had one of our best bars nights of the season. We continue to score well and build momentum with regionals right around the corner."
Oklahoma extended its school scoring record to five consecutive meets with at least 197 points. No other OU team had scored above the 197 mark in three straight outings. OU is guaranteed to finish no lower than No. 8 and no higher than No. 4 in the national rankings, which are released Monday.
OU began the evening on beam with a team score of 49.075, which was its lowest output in five meets. Sophomore Allison Landis drops. Freshman Melissa Smith and junior Kasie Tamayo posted identical 9.80's, while senior Christina Gerard collected a 9.775. Through one rotation OU was in third place behind leader Missouri and Nebraska.
The Sooners rebounded during their second rotation on floor where they scored a 49.425, the third highest mark this season. OU was in first place following the first two rotations. Freshman Meredith Fricke tumbled a team-high 9.925, while Big 12 Gymnast-of-the-Year Candidate Patricia Aoki landed a 9.900. Gerard also posted a 9.900 and newcomers Nicole Gause and Karina Agafonova notched identical 9.50's.
OU dropped into third place during the third rotation after posting a team score of 49.075. Despite dropping two spots in the standings OU was behind by just three tenths heading into bars. Gerard and Aoki again led OU with score of 9.875 on the vaulting table. Gause and freshman Katie Hostler recorded solid numbers of 9.800.
The Sooners finished strong on high bar but were unable to top the defending champion Huskers. OU scored a 49.450 on bars, thanks in large part to a 9.950 by sophomore Erin LaBarr. LaBarr tied for the conference title on the event with Tami Harris and Julie Houk of Nebraska. Senior Leah Mueller and Tamayo also notched impressive scores of 9.900.
"Erin LaBarr did better than I have ever seen her perform tonight," said Nunno. "Kasie Tamayo was absolutely on fire. She is a champion and showed her true colors during championship season. Patricia was rock solid again and the great leader she has been all year long."
Nebraska took top honors on every event either outright or shared, while LaBarr's top honors on bars was the only individual award for OU.
"Our vaulting was little slow tonight," said Nunno. "We had a couple hops on our landings. We just have to polish that up before regionals. That is four straight meets that we have hit on every routine."