OU Eyes First National Title Saturday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
APRIL 16, 2011

April 16, 2011

 No. 3 Seed Oklahoma at 2011 NCAA Super Six
 Full Info  2011 NCAA Championships Central
 Date  April 16 | Super Six Team Finals - Saturday, 3 p.m. (CT)
 Location  Wolstein Center | Cleveland, Ohio
 Tickets  Order online
 Live Stats  Scoring
 Live Webcast  NCAA Link
 Tape Delay  CBS, Saturday, May 14, 2-4 p.m. (CT)
 Semifinal Recap  Full Story, Results, Quotes and Photos

CLEVELAND - The third-seeded Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team eyes its first national championship Saturday as the Sooners compete in their second straight NCAA Super Six Team Finals in Cleveland, Ohio at 3 p.m. (CT).

The Sooners open the competition on floor, receiving their rotation via a blind draw conducted by the NCAA office. OU’s rotation order will be floor, vault, bye, bars, beam, bye.  OU has drawn the same rotation in its last five postseason competitions (2010 Super Six, 2011 Big 12 Championships, 2011 Norman Regional, 2011 NCAA Semifinals and the 2011 Super Six).

Oklahoma won the first of two semifinals Friday to advance to the team finals with a score of 196.775.  No. 2 UCLA and No. 6 Michigan also advanced from the first semifinal, while No. 1 Alabama, No. 8 Utah and No. 9 Nebraska. 

This year marks the first time since the beginning of the Super Six format (1993) that only one program from the Southeastern Conference advanced to the team finals.  Two of the six team finalists are from the Big 12 Conference.

OU won the first semifinal with its highest score in an NCAA semifinal in program history (196.775).  The Sooners earned a program record 11 All-America honors with the performance while four gymnasts qualified for Sunday’s Individual Event Finals.

Megan Ferguson will compete on both bars and beam in event finals, Natasha Kelley will compete on beam, Madison Mooring will compete on vault while Kayla Nowak will compete on bars. 

Ferguson led the team with three All-America awards, the junior was named first team on bars and beam and second team on floor. Joining Ferguson as All-Americans are Kelley (beam - first team, bars - second team), Mooring (vault - first team, beam - second team), Nowak (bars - first team, beam - second team), Brie Olson (bars - second team) and Sara Stone (vault - second team).

The Sooners will end the Super Six competition on beam before their bye in the final rotation.  OU entered the postseason ranked No. 1 on the apparatus and was the only team out of all 12 NCAA Championships participants to score above a 49.000 in Friday’s semifinals.
Only four programs have won the women’s gymnastics national championship in the championship’s 29 years (Georgia – 10, Utah – 9, UCLA – 6, Alabama – 4). 

Despite the dominance of these programs, this year’s title race is as wide open as ever.

Three of the top four teams entering the postseason did not advance to the Super Six.  Florida, who was ranked No. 1 for 12 weeks, was knocked out of the running after finishing in fourth place in the second semifinal Friday.

Oregon State entered the postseason as the No. 3 team in the country, but finished in fifth in the second semifinal, while fourth-ranked Stanford failed to advance past its regional.
This is OU’s second straight trip to the Super Six.  The Sooners finished in a program-best second place last season in their first ever Super Six appearance in 2010.

2011 Roster | 2011 Schedule | 2011 Blog | 2011 Media Guide | WGYM on Facebook | YouTube | Twitter

OU won its second straight NCAA regional title on Saturday, April 2, as the Sooners posted a program-best postseason score of 197.350 in the Norman regional. OU swept all four individual event titles along with the team title. Freshman Hope Bruce won the vault title with a career-high 9.9, Natasha Kelley won the bars title with her career-high-tying 9.95, Megan Ferguson won the beam title with a 9.9 while Kayla Nowak won the floor title with a 9.9. In 24 routines, OU had just one score below a 9.8.

For the second year in a row, the OU coaching staff swept the South Central region coaching awards. K.J. Kindler was named Regional Coach of the Year while Lou Ball and Tom Haley were named Regional Co-Assistant Coaches of the Year.

The Sooners became the only remaining undefeated team in the NCAA this regular season on March 5 as OU finished first in its quad meet with No. 17 Illinois, No. 13 Illinois and TWU on March 4 while previously-unbeaten No. 3 Stanford lost to Oregon State that Saturday, leaving OU as the lone unbeaten team.

OU clinched its third perfect regular season in four years (and second-straight) on March 11 with its 196.875-194.800 win over Michigan State in Norman. The Sooners went 14-0 in 2010 and finished 2011 at 15-0, bringing its current nation-leading regular-season win streak to 29 victories. OU’s last regular-season loss was to Alabama in Tuscaloosa on March 13, 2009. Oklahoma is 67-6 in the regular season under Kindler.

Oklahoma has five gymnasts ranked in the top 25 over all four events, including two in the top 10. Sara Stone is ranked No. 11 on vault. Natasha Kelley is ranked No. 11 on bars. Megan Ferguson is No. 5 on beam while Kelley is No. 6 and Taylor Spears is No. 17. Kayla Nowak is No. 12 on floor while Ferguson and Stone are tied at No. 22. The Sooners are ranked in the top 10 on all four events as a team, OU is No. 9 on vault, No. 10 on bars, No. 1 on beam and No. 4 on floor.

With its season-high beam 49.450 at the Big 12 Championship, OU moved up to No. 1 in the final national beam rankings before the postseason. An OU gymnast has scored a 9.9 or higher on beam 14 times this season, including a 9.95 from freshman Madison Mooring against TWU on Jan. 23. OU has three individuals ranked in the top 20 on the event, Megan Ferguson is No. 5, Natasha Kelley is No. 6 and Taylor Spears is No. 17. The three Sooners were also named All-Big 12 on the apparatus while Ferguson and Kelley shared the Big 12 beam title on March 19 with their 9.925s.

OU led the league with nine selections to the 2011 All-Big 12 Gymnastics Team announced March 16. Megan Ferguson (bars, beam and floor), Natasha Kelley (bars and beam), Kayla Nowak (floor), Taylor Spears (beam) and Sara Stone (vault and floor) represented OU on the 2011 all-conference squad.

Oklahoma became just the third team in the NCAA to break 197 twice this season with its 197.025-showing on March 4. OU was the first team to do so on the road, en route to its 197.225-195.375 victory over Iowa State on Feb. 11, and has eclipsed the 197 mark three times total.

The Sooners have beaten 11 teams currently ranked in the top 25, including No. 3 Oregon State, four top 10 teams and five top 15 teams and six programs that competed at the 2010 NCAA Championships.

The Sooners are one of four programs in the country with eight-straight NCAA Championship appearances. OU joins Alabama, Florida and Utah in the elite group. OU has qualified for the the NCAA Championships every year since the arrival of current head coach K.J. Kindler in 2007.

In Kindler’s fifth season with the Sooners, its fitting that the No. 5 has made numerous appearances with the 2011 team. OU ended the season ranked No. 5 in the country, OU had five gymnasts named All-Big 12 (Ferguson, Kelley, Nowak, Spears and Stone), OU had five gymnasts named Academic All-Big 12 (Ferguson, Kelley, Nowak, Ratcliff and Stone), an OU gymnast scored a 9.95 five times this season, and OU gymnast scored a 9.925 five times this season, while five OU gymnasts earned Big 12 weekly honors this season (Kelley, Madison Mooring, Nowak, Taylor Spears and Stone).

The Sooners are 42-2 in Norman under fifth-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 74 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over then-ranked No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 4 Florida in 2010 as well as wins over Auburn, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford and West Virginia.

Six of OU’s highest team scores this season have come away from Norman, including its regular season-high 197.225 that was set at Iowa State. The Sooners were the first team in the NCAA this season to break the 197 mark on the road. The Sooners are no strangers to road success, OU has posted five of its seven highest scores away from Norman for three-straight seasons. The Sooners are 36-5 on the road during the regular season under head coach K.J. Kindler.

Headlining OU’s returnees from the 2010 record-breaking squad were two-time All-American Megan Ferguson and 2010 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Natasha Kelley. The duo has been the key to OU’s consistency in 2011. Ferguson and Kelley have won a combined 26 individual event titles this season and have scored a 9.9 or higher 24 times. The duo shared the 2011 Big 12 title on beam after both gymnasts scored a 9.925 on the apparatus and were both named All-Big 12 on multiple events. Ferguson won the beam title at the Norman regional, while Kelley took home the bars title.

Sophomore Kayla Nowak competed in the all-arounder for the second-straight week for just the second time this season in OU’s quad meet on March 4. Nowak scored a 39.275 to win her first all-around title. Nowak scored a career-high 39.375, the week prior against Michigan finishing in second place by just .025 behind then-No. 1 ranked all-arounder, Michigan’s Kylee Botterman who posted a 39.400. With her the 39.375 and 39.275, Nowak is averaging a 39.325 which is the country’s sixth-best average in the all-around.

WIN NO. 100
OU improved to 6-0 on the season, with wins over No. 6 Oregon State, No. 23 Denver, Centenary and TWU the weekend of Jan. 23. With the wins, OU Head Coach K.J. Kindler moves to 100 victories at Oklahoma. The Sooners are 109-36-2 overall under Kindler, 37-2 at home, 36-5 on the road and 71-6 in the regular season.

OU had at least one freshman compete on all four events in all 13 competitions this season. Eighty-nine of OU’s routines this season have been performed by freshmen. Taylor Spears is currently ranked No. 17 nationally on beam and has scored a 9.9 on both bars and beam. Madison Mooring has competed on at least two events in every meet and has performed on three events for most of the season. Mooring was the first freshman in the NCAA this season to post a 9.95 on beam. Hayden Ward has competed on bars and floor for OU, Ward and Mooring both joined the team in December following their high school graduations. Hope Bruce set a career-high on beam at Michigan in just her second appearance in the beam lineup with a 9.875.

Oklahoma was chosen as one of six host sites for the 2013 NCAA Regional Championships, announced by the NCAA on Tuesday. Oklahoma will host along with Corvallis, Ore. (Oregon State), Gainesville, Fla. (Florida), Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State), Morgantown, W.V. (West Virginia) and Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Alabama).

Oklahoma started the season ranked No. 4 nationally, the highest preseason ranking in program history. The back-to-back-to-back Big 12 Champions return nine members of the record-breaking 2010 squad, as the team looks to make its second-straight NCAA Super Six in 2011. Headlining OU’s returnees are Megan Ferguson and Natasha Kelley. Ferguson is a two-time All-American and was named All-Big 12 on both bars and beam in 2010. Kelley was named the 2010 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and All-Big 12 on vault and bars. The redshirt-sophomore enters the 2011 season with a career-high 9.925 on vault and 9.9 on both bars and beam. The Sooners welcome four newcomers for the 2011 season. Hope Bruce and Taylor Spears joined the team in the summer of 2010, while Madison Mooring and Hayden Ward began training with the team in December.

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 these pages as well as a behind-the-scenes blog can be found at www. SoonerSports.com.



Sooner Sports Properties, LLC, is the multimedia rights holder for athletics at the University of Oklahoma.
Sooner Sports Properties is a joint venture of Learfield Communications and Tyler Media, LLC.


Sooner Sports Powered by FOX Sports is a multi-platform network that provides distribution of 1,000+ hours of Sooner sports programming annually on a variety of FOX Sports outlets, including FOX Sports Oklahoma, FOX Sports Southwest, and FOX College Sports.