NORMAN, Okla. The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team will travel to Corvallis, Oregon for the 2004 NCAA Regionals on April 3 inside Gill Coliseum at 6 p.m. (PST). The 2004 Big 12 Champions are ranked No. 15 in the new GymInfo poll released on Monday and will compete in the West Region with No. 3 Alabama, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 32 California, No. 36 Boise State and No. 46 Cal State Fullerton.
The top two finishers in each region (six total) will advance to the final 12 at the NCAA National Championships in Los Angeles, Calif., hosted by UCLA.
The Sooners finished fourth in last year’s regionals hosted by Alabama, finishing just 0.050 points behind Central Michigan and Auburn. In 2002 at Corvallis, Oregon, OU was third behind Oregon State and Utah missing a chance at nationals by just 0.175 points.
“I think we landed in a good field and it will be a tough competition,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “We will enter that meet just like we did before the Big 12 Championship meet with the mind set that if we compete to our capabilities we can finish at or near the top.
“Alabama is a tough team and we match up well with Oregon State. When it comes down to talent, I think it will come down between us three. That is not to say we are looking past the other teams because all three of those schools have been coming on strong near the end of the season and are capable of finishing well. We are hoping to have the same type of meet we had when we won the conference title. It is going to be a tough environment up there but after competing at Iowa State (Big 12 Championship) and at Oregon State two years ago, I don’t think there is anything we can’t handle.”
The key to the Sooners first-ever Big 12 Championship was senior co-captain Kasie Tamayo’s performance. Tamayo dominated the meet winning the all-around title, her sixth straight, with a 39.575. The Sacramento, Calif. native also went on to win the floor exercise with a 9.925 and the uneven bars with a 9.900. Tamayo also finished second on balance beam (9.900) and fourth on the vault (9.850). For her season long consistency, Tamayo was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Year after the meet. Also claiming a Big 12 Title was freshman Ashley Cooney with a 9.950 to win the vault.
“Kasie continues to impress everyone, including me,” said Nunno. “She is so self motivated and I am extremely proud of her. She deserves everything she has accomplished through all the injuries and disappointment of past years. She is always looking for that tough challenge to motivate her and now she has a place in the OU record books. As a team, we have come to depend on Kasie. She is the strength of this squad and we will look to her again to get us to nationals."
Tamayo is just the second Sooner in school history to win more than two conference championships and joins Kelly Garrison (four-time national champion) who was the last to win that many in 1988. That year she swept the event titles for the second straight year. Tamayo is the first Sooner since Mariana Goncalves to win the conference honor. Goncalves was honored in the 2002 season.
“I feel like I have met most of my expectations for this season and that holds true on an individual and team level,” said Tamayo after the Big 12 Championships. “This team has gelled together near the end of the season and that has been the difference. Now we have the regional meet and it does not really matter to us where the competition is held. After the disappointment of last year, we are looking to take care of business out there just like we did at the Big 12 meet last week.”
The Sooners (14-9) have two weeks to prepare for NCAA Regionals and are looking to make their first NCAA Nationals appearance since 2001 when they finished 10th.
A taped delayed broadcast of the Sooners winning the 2004 Big 12 Championships can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest(Cox Channel 37) at the following dates and times: