Jan. 26, 2002
DENTON, Texas - The University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics team, currently boasting the fourth-highest score in the nation, cruised to a triangular meet victory over Texas Woman's and Southern Utah Saturday in Denton, Texas, tallying a season-high team score of 196.925. OU's team score was higher than all of its 2001 scores and should rank the Sooners in the top five in the nation.
Texas Woman's came into the meet with a 3-0 record on the season, including an upset win over then-No. 22 Maryland. The Pioneers scored a 191.775, while Southern Utah scored a 191.800 in its first meet of the season. Attendance at the Kitty Winter Magee Arena was 317.
Senior co-captain Mariana Goncalves won the all-around with a career-high 39.625 and sophomore Kasie Tamayo finished second with a 39.450. Goncalves was first on the floor exercise, bars and vault, and third on the balance beam. Tamayo was first on the beam, second on bars and third on the floor.
OU got off to a quick start, scoring a 49.375 on the uneven bars, just one-hundredth of a point off of the school record on the event, a 49.475 set on Feb. 12, 2000. OU had the top three gymnasts on the night on the bars.
OU posted a 48.950 on the balance beam, and proceeded to set a new Oklahoma record with a 49.525 in the floor exercise competition. Goncalves (9.950), Patricia Aoki (9.925), Tamayo (9.900), Gerard (9.900) and Cole (9.850) all set or equaled career highs on the floor. The previous school record of 49.475 was set on March 24, 2001, at the Big 12 Championships. The Sooners swept the floor event, placing the top five gymnasts on the night. OU concluded the meet by posting a 48.975 on the vault.
Gerard had maybe her best meet ever, placing third on both the floor and beam. Mueller was second on the vault, with teammate Erin LaBarr third. Aoki was second on the floor and Allison Landis was second on the bars.
"I feel like our team is really coming together nicely," said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. "We rested two of our seniors and from training together, they are really starting to believe in one another. That's 90% of athletics, believing in yourself and having confidence and we have that right now. Kasie (Tamayo) and Mariana (Goncalves) are two of the top all-around gymnasts in the nation. If Mari isn't the best, she's right there. We are one of the top teams in the nation on the beam, giving us a complete team. I don't feel like we have a weak event right now."
OU's next meet will be in Athens, Ga., on Friday, Feb. 1, with the Sooners taking on the second-ranked Georgia GymDogs, who are expecing a sellout crowd at Steggeman Coliseum.
"This really prepares us for Georgia," said Nunno. "They are, without a doubt, a national power, and they'll be ready for us. But we're going to be highly-ranked and ready to go."
The Sooners return home for meet at the Lloyd Noble Center, 7 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 8, with SEC power Florida.