March 29, 2008
NORMAN, Okla. -- Heading into the final rotation in third place, the No. 9 OU women's gymnastics team recorded its second-highest vault score of the season (49.275) to clinch the 2008 Big 12 Championship in front of 1,660 fans inside the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday night.
Following the meet, OU head coach K.J. Kindler was named the 2008 Big 12 Coach of the Year and senior Kiara Redmond-Sturms was named the conference's Gymnast of the Year.
Performing the final routine of the night and needing a 9.875 or better for an Oklahoma win, Redmond-Sturms posted a 9.95 on vault as the Sooners clinched their second Big 12 title and first since 2004. It was Oklahoma's first Big 12 crown in front of the home crowd, as OU won the 2004 title at Iowa State.
The Sooners improved to 21-0 on the year, clinching at least a share of all four individual event titles, marking just the third time in Big 12 history that a school clinched at least a share of all four titles.
Joining Redmond-Sturms atop the podium (floor-9.9, vault-9.95) was Hollie Vise (bars-9.9) and Haley DeProspero (9.9).
Three of the four teams led at some point in the competition, with OU winning the final three event titles of the night (beam, floor and vault) and taking its only lead after the fourth and final rotation was completed.
OU had three stumbles on bars in the opening rotation, scoring a team total of 48.100, and stood fourth after one event. The Sooners were led by sophomore Hollie Vise's career-high 9.9. Ashley Jackson and Mary Mantle also posted solid scores, recording respective marks of 9.85 and 9.775.
Needing to make up ground in a hurry, Oklahoma did just that in the second rotation on beam. The Sooners posted a 49.275 on the apparatus, tying their second-highest beam score of the year. Every OU gymnast scored at least a 9.8, led by DeProspero's 9.9 from the anchor spot. OU trailed first-place Missouri at the halfway mark 97.925-97.400.
The Sooners remained in third after their floor rotation, but closed the gap to 0.2 with one event remaining. OU opened with a 9.8 from Kristin Smith before a career-high-tying 9.85 from Jessica Kinder. Oklahoma closed with scores of 9.775, 9.875 and 9.9 from DeProspero, Jackie Flanery and Redmond-Sturms.
Clinching the seventh conference title in OU women's gymnastics history, the Sooners didn't record a score lower than 9.8 on vault. Flanery and DeProspero led off with 9.8s before Kinder tied her second career high of the night (9.825). Melanie Root kept the career high streak going with a 9.875, followed by a 9.825 from DeProspero before Redmond-Sturms' dramatic ending to the 12th-annual event.
Next up for the Sooners is the 2008 NCAA South Central Regional at the Lloyd Noble Center on April 12 at 6 p.m. Visit SoonerSports.com for more information on the undefeated OU squad as the Sooners continue their march towards the 2008 NCAA Championships.