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Top-Ranked Oklahoma Visits No. 23 MSU
February 24, 2010

Feb. 24, 2010



 No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 23 Michigan State
 Date  Friday, Feb. 26 | 5 p.m. (CT)
 Location  East Lansing, Mich. | Jenison Field House
 Tickets  (800) GO.STATE
 Live Stats  Scoring
 Video  None
 Meet Notes  Sooners 

EAST LANSING, Mich.  - The top-ranked OU women’s gymnastics squad travels to East Lansing, Mich., for a non-conference meeting with Michigan State.  Oklahoma regained the top spot in the country this week after posting a 197.050-195.500 victory at No. 17 Missouri on Feb. 19.  OU posted the second highest road score to date this season in the win, sweeping the team event titles for the second consecutive meet. 

OU became the first Big 12 program to be ranked No. 1 in the country for multiple weeks during a single season as the Sooners posted a score over 197.000 in back-to-back meets for the first time since 2004.

Oklahoma swept all four team event titles for the second week in a row in its last outing, improving to 19-2 against conference opponents under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.

The Sooners are ranked in the top six on every apparatus, including No. 1 RQS rankings on beam (49.140) and floor (49.185).  OU’s team event rankings are the highest in the Big 12 on each event. 

Individually, Hollie Vise leads the nation on beam with a RQS of 9.900 and stands second on bars (9.895).  Megan Ferguson is in a four-way tie for second behind Vise on beam (9.895), while Jackie Flanery (floor - 9.890) and Natasha Kelley (bars - 9.855) rank fourth and 10th, respectively.

Oklahoma Roster | 2010 Schedule and Results | Intro Video

MEET NOTES:

KNOW THE FOE
Michigan State returns seven of nine letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished the 2009 season with an 11-11 record and a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships under 19th-year head coach Kathie Klages.  The Spartans are led by Nicole Curler, who currently ranks 27th in the all-around RQS standings at 38.875. 

OU has won all four previous meetings in the series, including a 195.925-194.800 victory at the 2007 NCAA Central Regional in the last match up between the two programs.  

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOME AND AWAY
Regardless of the venue, OU has been one of the more consistent teams in the NCAA.  The Sooners have posted a season average of 196.775 in home meets and a 196.525 on the road.  The 0.250 difference is the lowest of any team ranked in this week’s top five.  In contrast, Alabama and Florida are averaging a full point higher in home meets.

 The Difference Between Home and Away
Ranking
 Team
Home Average
Away Average
Difference
No. 1
 Oklahoma
196.775
196.525
0.250
No. 2
 Alabama
197.100
196.100
1.000
No. 3
 UCLA
196.525
195.775
0.750
No. 4
 Florida
196.850
195.850
1.000
No. 5
 Georgia
196.358
196.013
0.345

BIG SCORE COMPARISON
OU has posted 31 scores of 9.9 or higher through its first seven meets this season, compared to just 11 at this point last year.  Seven different gymnasts have scored at least a 9.9 in 2010, paced by Hollie Vise’s 10 routines that have scored a 9.9 or better.   

REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
Oklahoma is 51-6 in the regular season under K.J. Kindler, including a perfect 10-0 mark in 2010.  The Sooners went 10-4 during the regular season in 2009, with three of those losses coming on the road (Florida, Nebraska and Alabama). 

HOME SWEET HOME
The Sooners are 26-2 in Norman under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.  OU’s only two losses at home have come against SEC opponents in Alabama and Arkansas.  Top-seeded Alabama knocked off the Sooners en route to the NCAA South Central Regional title in 2008, while OU’s loss to Arkansas in the 2009 home opener marked Oklahoma’s only regular season home defeat in Kindler’s tenure.     

Among the 55 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford and West Virginia. 

BUT THE ROAD ISN’T BAD EITHER...
The Sooners seek some of the same road success in 2010 that they have exhibited in recent years. On the young season, three of Oklahoma’s top five scores have come in road competition, including a 197.050 at Mizzou last week.  Five of OU’s top seven scores (including a season-high 197.175 at TWU) came away from Norman in 2009, a year after five of Oklahoma’s top seven scores (including three of the top four and a season-best-tying 196.750 at Arkansas) came on the road.  Oklahoma was the only squad in the top 10 to have both of its top two scores from 2009 come in road competition. 

 
 SOONER TO WATCH

Natasha Kelley | R-Fr. | VT-UB-BB 

Competing on a 100% torn ACL, Natasha Kelley led OU to its highest road score of the season (197.050) with three routines of 9.85 or higher including a career-high 9.9 on vault. 

The redshirt-freshman bested every Missouri event specialist on every apparatus she competed, with top-five finishes on all three events.

   

TOPS IN THE CONFERENCE
Oklahoma holds the best season average of all four Big 12 squads on every apparatus, while the Sooners hold the top mark in the individual standings on every event but vault.  The back-to-back Big 12 Champions are 19-2 against conference opponents under K.J. Kindler, including a 11-1 mark during the regular season. 

MILESTONE MOMENT
With its No. 1 ranking on Feb. 22, OU became the first Big 12 program to be ranked No. 1 in the country for multiple weeks during a single season. Oklahoma originally ascended to No. 1 nationally on Feb. 8, marking the first women’s sport at OU to be ranked No. 1 during the regular season.

IN ELITE COMPANY

The Sooners are one of just six squads to advance to the NCAA Championships every year since 2004, joining Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Utah on that elite list.  OU’s six championship appearances in the last six years matches the other three Big 12 programs combined during that period.  Nebraska advanced to the NCAA Championships from 2004-07, while Iowa State made back-to-back appearances in 2005 and 2006 under K.J. Kindler.      

HIGH MARKS
Oklahoma has gone 49.375 or higher on every event this season, including a 49.5 (beam) and a 49.6 (floor).  The floor tally is the highest event score on any apparatus through the first seven weeks of the season.

NO “I” IN TEAM
OU has found a way to win despite the lack of a true all-around presence.  Oklahoma’s only all-around competitor this season was Kayla Nowak against Illinois, while the Sooners were the only squad ranked in the final 2009 top-15 GymInfo poll without a gymnast in the top-25 all-around rankings.   

Nowak was a last-minute addition to the vault lineup at Illinois and placed second in her first collegiate all-around appearance. 

MORE ON THE TEAM APPROACH
In OU’s seven meets this season, it has had five different gymnasts post the team’s highest score on vault, four on bars, three on beam and two on floor.  In all, nine different Oklahoma gymnasts have at least tied for OU’s highest score on an event during a meet this season. 

DAZZLING DEBUT
Fifty-five of Oklahoma’s 168 routines this season have been performed by freshmen (.327), including exactly half of OU’s uneven bars routines (21-of-42).  The group is 54-of-55 on the year.  Each freshman that has competed has scored at least a 9.8 in one of their routines, while Natasha Kelley has already tallied 15 scores of at least 9.85.

RACKING UP THE TITLES
The Sooners have collected 48 of a possible 56 combined individual and team event titles in 2010, including at least six combined individual and team event wins in each meet.  OU has won every team event title on bars and floor in 2010. 

BARS STARS
Every Oklahoma gymnast in the bar lineup against Iowa State set or tied a career high.  The Sooners posted a 49.425 on the apparatus, marking their third different event to record a score of at least 49.400 on this season.  OU, Alabama and Georgia are the only three teams in the country that have scored at least a 49.400 on three different events in 2010. 

It was the second week in a row that the Sooners have had at least four gymnasts set a career high during a single rotation as OU had four gymnasts in the floor lineup accomplish the feat against Nebraska and TWU.

SOONER “FLOOR” COMPETITION
OU posted its highest event score on any apparatus under Kindler with a 49.600 on the floor exercise against Nebraska.  The Sooners closed the rotation with five scores of 9.9 or higher.  Oklahoma picked up career highs from Kristin Smith (9.95), Kayla Nowak (9.925), Hollie Vise (9.925) and Megan Ferguson (9.9), while Flanery sealed the win with a 9.9 in the final routine of the night. 

BEAM QUEENS
Just like last season’s second road meet of the season, the OU beam squad provided its breakout performance of the 2010 campaign in its second road outing at Illinois with a team tally of 49.500 on the apparatus.  OU reeled off five straight 9.85s or better after a fall from the first position on beam at Illinois.  Vise and Smith shared event honors with 9.95s, while Ferguson (9.9), Kelley (9.85) and Nowak (9.85) completed a sweep of the individual event standings on the apparatus.  

Oklahoma’s beam tally was its second highest event total on the apparatus under Kindler, just behind OU’s 49.525 on beam at TWU on Jan. 17, 2009.

COMING FROM BEHIND
OU has trailed after a rotation just twice this season (at Missouri and at Illinois).  The Sooners haven’t trailed after the second rotation yet this season, overcoming a 49.150-49.100 deficit against the Tigers and a 49.100-49.000 deficit in Champaign to take leads at the halfway point of both meets.     

BEST IN THE COUNTRY
The Sooners are the only team in the NCAA to score at least a 196.000 in every meet this season.  OU has counted a fall twice this season, but still posted a 196.463 average during those two meets.    

CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA IN 2010
The back-to-back Big 12 Champions open the 2010 season ranked ninth in the GymInfo preseason coaches poll, the highest ranking of any conference squad.  The Sooners return 11 members from last season's group that clinched OU's second straight conference title. 

Headlining OU's returnees is sophomore All-American Megan Ferguson.  The Olathe, Kan., native capped off her stellar freshman campaign by garnering All-America status on beam at the 2009 NCAA Championships.  She became the first freshman in Big 12 history to win multiple event titles at the conference championship (bars and beam).

Other returnees include All-Big 12 selections in Jackie Flanery (floor - 2008), Melanie Root (vault - 2009), Kristin Smith (floor - 2009) and Hollie Vise (bars - 2008, beam - 2008, 2009).  The quartet has combined for nine Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honors in the past two seasons.

Also returning in 2010 are event title winners Mary Mantle (Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week on Feb. 12, 2008, after her vault win at Denver) and Sara Stone (three vault titles in 2009).

This season also marks the final send-off for Julie Kramer, while other returnees include juniors Candace Cindell and Natalie Ratcliff.  Ratcliff was a mainstay in the vault and beam lineup a year ago.

OU gymnastics fans also will have their first chance to see Oklahoma's freshman class of Bethany Neubauer, Kayla Nowak, Brie Olson and Nitya Ramaswami. The class was recently ranked No. 9 in the country by CollegeGymFans.com.

FOLLOWING THE SOONERS
The OU gymnastics program maintains its own Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts, which are updated frequently with all of the latest news about the squad.  Links to each of those pages can be found at www.SoonerSports.com, the official site of the Oklahoma Sooners. 

KINDLER TABS THREE TO 2011 CLASS
Head Coach K.J. Kindler announced the signing of three gymnasts to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 11, the first day of the early signing period.  All hailing from the Lone Star state, the trio of Lauren Alexander (Plano, Texas), Hope Bruce (Denton, Texas) and Taylor Spears (Plano, Texas) will cross the Red River to join the Sooners next fall.

Bruce is a Junior International Elite qualifier, while Alexander and Spears both excelled at JO Nationals prior to signing with the Sooners. 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
If the old adage rings true, the Sooners should be on top of their game in 2010 as the team recently moved  into of the top training gyms in the entire country.  OU recently completed a state-of-the-art 7,000 square foot addition and a complete overhaul of the existing Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center for the men's and women's gymnastics squads. 

Funded entirely by private donations without the use of any state or university appropriated funds, the project included a complete renovation of the current gym, locker rooms, sports medicine training rooms and the awards recognition room.  A new storage area, a reconfiguration of foam and resi pits and an outdoor patio also highlighted the renovation.

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