No. 9 OU Travels to TWU Saturday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 15, 2009

Jan. 15, 2009

 No. 9 Oklahoma (0-1) at Texas Woman's University (0-0) 
 Date & Time

 Saturday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. CST

 Location  Denton, Texas | Kitty Magee Arena
 Tickets  TWU Ticket Office - (940) 898-2378

 Vintage and classic rock band Goose Creek will play at 6 p.m.

 Live Scoring  OU at TWU
 Directions  TWU Map
 Gymnastics Site  Oklahoma | TWU
 Meet Info  Meet Notes (PDF) Coach Kindler Preview

The ninth-ranked OU women's gymnastics squad returns to action against Texas Woman's University on Saturday, Jan. 17 in Denton, Texas.  The Sooners and Pioneers face off at 7 p.m. (CT) inside Kitty Magee Arena on the TWU campus.

Oklahoma enters the dual meet off the heels of a 196.500-195.025 loss at now-No. 1 Florida on Jan. 9 in its season opener.  The Sooners recorded runner-up individual finishes on three of the four events in the defeat, including a second-place finish on bars for freshman Megan Ferguson (9.85), in her first collegiate routine. 

Haley DeProspero (beam-9.875) and Ashley Jackson (vault-9.825) also earned silvers in last weekend's meet against Florida. Jackson placed third in the all-around in OU's season opener to All-Americans Melanie Sinclair and Corey Hartung of UF.

The Sooners will be without the services of Haley DeProspero on vault and floor and senior all-arounder Jessica Kinder on all four events.  The pair are resting some lingering injuries that are considered week-to-week in nature.  

TWU's matchup with Oklahoma marks its season opener as the Pioneers enter Saturday's contest as the reigning USAG Collegiate National Champions.  The 2008 season marked the ninth time under Frank Kudlac that TWU has won the national crown (fourth time since 2000). Kudlac enters his 31st season at the helm of the Pioneers' program in 2009 and has led the program since the sport's inception at TWU in 1978 as a club sport. 

Mollie Blessing returns for her sophomore campaign after leading the Pioneers on vault in `08 with a RQS of 9.765.  On bars, TWU lost two-time USAG bars national champion Courtney Arno-Templet to graduation, but returns Amanda Walker who finished fifth in the USAG with a season RQS ranking on the apparatus of 9.750. 

Arno-Templet also led all USAG gymnasts on beam a year ago (9.845), but sophomore Kristie Costa looks to be a strong replacement in 2009 after finishing fifth in the season rankings a year ago.

On floor, the Pioneers will look to senior co-captain Amy Boles.  The Snellville, Ga., native paced TWU a year ago with a RQS of 9.815 (second-best among all USAG gymnasts). 

Fellow seniors Brista Michael and Brittany Parker join Boles as captains of the 2009 TWU squad.

 Sooner to Watch 

 Megan Ferguson | Fr. | UB - BB - FX
The Olathe, Kan., native posted a 9.85 on bars in her first collegiate routine en route to a second-place finish against now-No. 1 Florida. 
Ferguson's bars score was the highest of any Big 12 gymnast and tied for the best mark in the South Central Region during the first two week's of competition. The freshman gymnast also competed on beam and floor in OU's season opener at Florida.    


• LAST TWU MEETING            
The Sooners defated TWU in both regular season meetings in 2008.  OU swept all four event titles en route to a 196.450-192.800 victory in Denton, Texas, on Jan. 19.  The win was bolstered by a career high all-around score of 39.65 by senior Kiara Redmond, who won three of the four event titles (vault-9.9, bars-9.925, floor-9.95) and finished third on beam (9.875) to teammates Haley DeProspero (9.925) and Hollie Vise (9.9). 

Oklahoma concluded the sweep of the Pioneers on Feb. 29, winning by a final margin of 195.650-189.350.  As it did in its previous meeting of the season, OU won every individual and team event title. 

K.J. Kindler intends to rest Haley DeProspero from the vault and floor lineup and Jessica Kinder from all events in this weekend's meet, giving the senior duo a chance to recuperate from some minor injuries while allowing other Oklahoma gymnasts a chance to compete for a spot in the event lineup. 

Entering the year as a potential all-arounder, DeProspero will compete strictly on bars and beam for the second straight meet.  She scored a 9.85 and placed second on beam against the Gators.  Kinder will miss the meet while recovering from a strained calf injury suffered earlier this week.  The Kansas City, Mo., native hit all four routines in her first collegiate all-around competition at Florida. 

• TIME TO SHINE                                                                                                         
With Kinder sitting out the meet and DeProspero competing just two events, look for junior Mary Mantle (bars and floor) and sophomore Natalie Ratcliff (vault and beam) to take up the slack.  Mantle will fill in for DeProspero on bars and floor, along with her usual spot in the vault lineup, while Ratcliff will compete vault and should see her first collegiate action in the six-gymnast lineup on beam.  Ratcliff scored a 9.75 (including a 9.85 from one judge) in a beam exhibition routine for the Sooners at Florida.

OU Fast Fact 
Oklahoma has won 31 of its last 33 regular-season matchups dating back to Jan. 19, 2007.  Prior to OU's season-opening defeat at Florida, the Sooners' last regular season loss was to Stanford on March 9, 2007 in Palo Alto, Calif.

• FIRST TIME HOME                                                                                                     
OU opens its home campaign on Monday, Jan. 26, against SEC foe Arkansas.  The Sooners edged the Lady Backs 196.750- 196.625 last season in Fayetteville, despite a program-tying high score from the home team.  The two squads also squared off in the opening session of the NCAA Championships in April, as the Sooners defeated Arkansas 196.075-195.825.

• BARS STARS                                                                                                                         
The Sooner' bars lineup at Florida included three gymnasts making their collegiate debut on the apparatus (Megan Ferguson, Jessica Kinder and Melanie Root).  The trio went three-for-three including a second-place finish by Ferguson, who scored a 9.85 in her first collegiate routine.  Kinder hit a 9.725, while Root finished with a 9.625.

• A LOOK BACK AT FLORIDA                                                                                                                      
The No. 10 University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad dropped a season-opening dual meet to the third-ranked Florida Gators by a score of 196.500-195.075 in front of a Stephen O'Connell Center crowd of 4,856 in Gainesville, Fla., on Jan 9.

OU senior Ashley Jackson finished third in the all-around (39.125), behind Florida All-American's Melanie Sinclair (39.425) and Corey Hartung (39.375).

Other Sooner bright spots included runner-up finishes on three of the four events (Jackson - 9.825 on vault, Megan Ferguson - 9.85 on bars and Haley DeProspero - 9.875 on beam).

"I thought we came out a little flat overall," said head coach K.J. Kindler.  "In front of a great Florida crowd, I was
very proud of some of our newcomers including our bars lineup which included three girls making their career
debuts and all hit.  We had some uncharacteristic falls from some of our veterans including Hollie Vise and Jackie
Flanery, but I'm sure we can learn from this experience and improve as the season progresses."

Roster | Schedule | 2009 Season Preview | Notes | 2009 Poster

• NATASHA KELLEY TO REDSHIRT                                                        
OU freshman Natasha Kelley will redshirt the 2009 season after an achilles injury sustained during the fall training period.  The Katy, Texas, native is Oklahoma's most heralded recruit since NCAA Champion Kelly Garrison after spending 2004-2008 as a member of the US Elite National Team.  The `05 USA Elite Junior National champion (all-around, beam, floor) was also the silver medalist at the 2006 World Championships and `07 American Cup.

• MEET THE NEWCOMERS                                                                                                                  
OU gymnastics fans also will have their first chance to see OU's freshman class of Megan Ferguson, Natasha Kelley, Sara Stone and Hailey Wagner in collegiate action in 2009.  While Kelley is redshirting the year after an injury during the fall, Ferguson and Stone are inked into the tentative starting lineup against TWU.

Baylor transfer Julie Kramer also joined the Sooners over the summer and will provide depth to the vault lineup.

OU's 2008-09 recruiting class of Ferguson, Kelley, Stone and Wagner was the sixth-best group in the country, according to a recent Top-10 Women's Recruiting Classes poll.  The Sooners ranked behind No. 1 UCLA and `08 NCAA Championships Super Six squads Georgia (second), Alabama (third), Florida (fourth) and Stanford (fifth).  Oklahoma was the only squad from the Big 12 Conference and South Central Region named to the list.

• THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR                                                                                                                    
The Sooners welcome back 18 routines from last season's 2008 NCAA Championships. Below is an event-by-event breakdown of returners for the 2009 year that competed in Athens, Ga.

Vault (5): Flanery, Kinder, Jackson, DeProspero, Mantle | Bars (4): Mantle, Jackson, DeProspero, Vise
Beam (4): Kinder, Jackson, Vise, DeProspero | Floor (5): Smith, Kinder, DeProspero, Jackson, Flanery

• BOWLING INTO THE NEW YEAR                                                                                                         
Although the gymnastics schedule was set months before the bowl lineups were announced, the OU gymnastics squad opened up its season slate with Oklahoma's football bowl opponent for the second straight year.   The Sooners squared off with the Gator gymnastics squad on Jan. 9, less than 24 hours after meeting Florida in the BCS National Championship game.  Oklahoma and West Virginia met in the second session of the Cancun Classic in their season opener a year ago, a day after OU's football squad faced the Mountaineers in the Fiesta Bowl. 

• SOONERS TABBED 10TH IN PRESEASON POLL                                                    
The reigning Big 12 Champion Oklahoma women's gymnastics team was ranked 10th in the preseason GymInfo Coaches' Poll, the highest ranking of any conference squad. Oklahoma's 525 points in the preseason poll was one less than ninth-ranked Oregon State. Georgia, winner of the last four national titles, opens the 2009 season as the nation's top team.  The Gym Dogs earned 26 of a possible 33 first-place votes, easily distancing themselves from No. 2 Utah (two first-place votes).  Florida, UCLA (four first-place votes) and Stanford round out the top five. The Sooners' regular season schedule features events against eight teams ranked in the preseason top-25 poll.

• OKLAHOMA INKS THREE TO 2009 CLASS                                                          
Head Coach K.J. Kindler and the Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad announced the signing of three gymnasts to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 12, the first day of the early signing period.
Oklahoma native Bethany Neubauer (Edmond, Okla.), Kayla Nowak (Algonquin, Ill.) and Brie Olson (St. Cloud, Minn.) will join the Sooners next fall.

• KIARA REDMOND NAMED TEAM MANAGER                                                                                                  
Former OU All-American Kiara Redmond has re-joined the Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad as team manager for the 2008-09 season.  The appointment was announced Aug. 8 by head coach K.J. Kindler.
Redmond, one of the most decorated gymnasts in program history, completed her eligibility last May after earning All-America honors on vault, beam, floor and in the all-around at the 2008 NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga.

• SHOWING OFF THEIR SMARTS                                                                                          
For the second consecutive season, five members of the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team earned National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches All-American Scholar Athlete Awards, the NACGC announced Aug. 6.
Haley DeProspero, Caitlin Hinkis, Jessica Kinder, Gina Lesko and Mary Mantle garnered Oklahoma's accolades with Hinkis and Kinder both earning perfect 4.0 GPA's for the academic year.  The pair was the only gymnasts in the Big 12 to notch 4.0's during both semesters.
OU recorded a team GPA of 3.25 for the year, up from last season's 3.20.

• VISE AND COMPANY NAMED TO USAG HALL OF FAME                                                                             
University of Oklahoma gymnast Hollie Vise was named to the 2008 class of inductees for the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame as part of the 2003 U.S. Women's World Championships Team, in a ceremony on June 22nd in Philadelphia, Pa., in conjunction with the U.S. Olympic Trials.
The 2003 World Champion on bars, Vise was a member of the `03 squad that claimed the USA's first world team title.

An International Elite gymnast since the age of 11, Vise was a two-time National Champion on bars and balance beam and won a silver medal in the all-around at the same competition on three occasions.
A member of the U.S. National Team for six years, the Dallas, Texas, native won two bronze medals at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Australia.

• A LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR                                                                                           
2008 proved to be a storybook season for OU women's gymnastics as the team cemented itself as one of the program's all-time best. Etching its name in the record books on multiple occasions, the Sooners clinched their first Big 12 title since 2004 in dramatic come-from-behind fashion and placed eighth at the NCAA Championships - tying the `07 squad for the best finish in program history at the season-ending event. 

OU made its fifth-straight NCAA Championships appearance, adding to its program-record streak.  Prior to the current five consecutive showings, the Sooners hadn't been in the field in back-to-back seasons in the 27-year history of the program.

The Sooners claimed a conference-leading nine spots on the 2008 Gymnastics All-Big 12 Team.  The Big 12 Conference awarded the top four Big 12 gymnasts with the highest regional qualifying score (RQS) in each event, excluding the all-around. Leading the way for OU was Kiara Redmond who earned a spot on vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise. The Los Angeles, Calif., native was the only Big 12 gymnast to garner four accolades. 

Vise was also a multiple winner, clinching a spot on both uneven bars and beam. Leading the Big 12 on beam (9.895), DeProspeo was named to the beam team while Jackie Flanery and Ashley Jackson were honored for their efforts on floor.



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