NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners (4-0) meet the Kent State Golden Flashes (1-0) Friday, Jan. 21, for their home opener at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.
The meet marks the season home opener for the Oklahoma Sooners. In commemoration of the event, the first 250 people admitted will receive the 2005 Oklahoma Sooners women’s gymanstics poster featuring last season’s first-ever Big 12 Championship. Following the event, the women’s team will be available on the upper concourse for an autograph session.
General Public $5
*A group is considered 10 or more people and tickets must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance through the OU Ticket Office, (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668.
SEATING: Seating will be restricted to the east side and patrons must enter through the north lobby. All seating will be general admission. Doors open at 6 p.m.
LIVE VIDEO: SoonerVision will carry the event live via the O-Zone on SoonerSports.com. The O-Zone is a subscription service provided by OU Athletics.
KENT STATE PREVIEW
Despite some early troubles, the Sooner women pulled away with a victory in their last meet against Texas Woman’s University, beating the Pioneers 193.60-188.65.
For the second consecutive week, sophomore Ashley Cooney and senior captain Erin LaBarr led the way for the Sooners placing first and second, respectively, in the all-around. Cooney took first in the vault for the second time this season, recording a 9.9. The Plano, Texas, native also placed second on the uneven bars (9.8), third on the beam (9.5) and second on the floor exercise (9.825).
LaBarr, the Big 12 Gymnast of the Week, followed her perfect score on the uneven bars in Cancun with a 9.875 against T.W.U.
“We feel prepared and our very proud of our No. 5 ranking,” head coach Steve Nunno said. “Last weekend we had one bad event and three great events so we’ve learned that we can do great things if we do not beat ourselves.
“Kent State is a quality opponent coming off a confident win. They are a well-instructed team and I have known Coach Brice Biggin for several years. Friday, however, will be all business. We are going to unveil some new routines for some of the girls and get the freshmen some experience.”
Friday’s contest will be the second meet for Kent State after they knocked off then-No. 23 West Virginia 190.875-190.525.
The Golden Flashes are led by seniors Erika Linnersten and April Zentko. Against the Mountaineers, Linnersten won the uneven bars (9.825) and tied for third on beam (9.750) while Zentko won the all-around (38.525) and tied for third on beam.
THE LATEST POLL
Oklahoma is ranked No. 5 in the latest GymInfo Poll. The Sooners, who ranked No. 11 in the preseason poll, dropped two spots from last week's poll. Individually, Erin LaBarr is ranked as the No. 3 all-arounder in the country and is No. 1 on uneven bars, No. 6 on beam and No. 12 on floor exercise. Teammates Ashley Cooney (No. 8 vault, No. 22 beam), Brittney Koncak (No. 15 uneven bars) and Kristen Cox (No. 21 floor exercise) also appear in the top 25.
Week Two: Jan. 17
7. Arizona State
9. Brigham Young
11. Michigan State
13. Oregon State
15. Iowa State
20. Penn State
21. Central Michigan
24. Utah State
LABARR HONORED BY BIG 12
Erin LaBarr was named the first Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for the 2005 season, the conference office announced Tuesday. LaBarr earned the honor for the first time in her career.
The senior captain from Bartlesville, Okla., put together an impressive performance to kick off the 2005 season. LaBarr recorded the school’s seventh perfect score with her routine on the bars en route to a first place finish in the all-around at the Second Annual Gymnastics Classic. She led the Sooners with a 39.600 (career high) in the all-around and also won the balance beam (9.9) and floor exercise (9.925) at the Cancun Classic, helping Oklahoma to the team title against then-No. 18 BYU, George Washington and Gustavus Adolphus.
LaBarr is ranked third in the nation in the all-around, No. 1 on the uneven bars, 12th on the floor exercise and sixth on the balance beam.
A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT PERFECTION
LaBarr’s 10.0 on Jan. 7 was the first perfect score for a Sooner since the 2003 season (Allison Landis-uneven bars). It is just the seventh 10.0 in Sooners’ history and the second on the uneven bars.
She also becomes just the third Big 12 gymnast to record a 10.0 on bars since the inception of the conference, joining Nebraska’s Bree Dority (2001) and Landis (2003).
Sophomore Ashley Cooney was the 2004 Big 12 and West Regional champion vault in her first year at OU and it appears like the Texas native is picking up right where she left off.
Cooney opened the 2005 season with a first place victory on the vault and followed that with another victory last week. Cooney also won the all-around (39.025) against T.W.U.
WHAT COACH NUNNO HAS TO SAY ABOUT...
“With only two seniors this year, and both of them serving as team captains, our young squad will rely on them heavily during the course of the season,” said Nunno. “Erin LaBarr will provide leadership by experience and by example because of her accomplishments here at OU and her work ethic.
“Nicole Gause has dedicated her life to gymnastics but in her final year she has committed herself to help lead others fill the void she will leave when she hangs up her grips.”
“Our three juniors were my first group of recruits,” said Nunno. “They have done a fabulous job of setting the example in the gym and in the classroom. They carry exceptionally high GPAs and have improved as gymnasts in their time at OU. This class has competed in virtually every meet over the past two years and will continue to provide friendship and team spirit for our underclassmen.”
“The sophomores are the foundation of our team,” said Nunno. “All four of them are strong all-around competitors and are dedicated individuals. We expect a tremendous showing of upgraded gymnastics skills from them this season along with some experienced performances. Our sophomores will be fun to watch this year and beyond.”
“Eight freshmen is the largest class ever here at OU,” said Nunno. “They all bring such a different element to our team and all have such diverse personalities that every day is an adventure. It’s enjoyable to coach each of them and watch them all improve as time passes. It will be interesting to see who rises to the top during the season.”
“We are tremendously excited about hosting two of our home meets off campus in an attempt to bring more exposure to our up and coming program. We also play host to the Big 12 Championships this year and we look forward to defending our title in our house!”
OKLAHOMA SIGNS JACKSON AND DEPROSPERO
The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team announced the signing of Ashley Jackson and Haley DeProspero (pronounced deh-PROSS-per-oh) to National Letters of Intent Nov. 12. Jackson, a native of Hudsonville, Michigan, is a 5-1 gymnast that placed fifth in the all-around at the 2004 Junior Nationals. DeProspero, a native of McKinney, Texas, is a 5-0 elite gymnast who finished first in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise at the 2004 Pike’s Peak Cup.
“We are excited today to announce the signing of these two exceptional gymnasts,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “Haley is one of the most talented athletes in the country and Ashley is one of the most powerful athletes to ever join our team.”
DeProspero competed in the 2003 and 2002 U.S. National Championships finishing 24th and 27th, respectively. In addition to DeProspero’s three first place finishes at the 2004 Pike Peak Cup, she also finished in the top five on three events (3rd-AA, 2nd-beam, 3rd-floor) at the 2004 Sand Dollar Invite. Haley is the daughter of Bob and Dayna DeProspero, both graduates of OU.
“Haley was one of the most highly recruited athletes this year and we are truly excited that she has chosen the University of Oklahoma,” said Nunno. “There is no doubt in my mind that Haley will become a record holder here for women’s gymnastics. She is coming in at the perfect time as we will probably have our most promising team ever in 2006.”
Jackson had a successful outing at the 2004 Junior Nationals in which she not only placed fifth in the all-around but recorded three other top ten finishes. Jackson took ninth on the uneven bars, third on the beam and fifth on the floor exercise at the meet. In other action this year, Jackson was the Michigan State Champion and also placed third in the all-around at the 2004 Region 5 Regionals. The Michigan native also has some international experience, competing with the Region 5 Team at meets in El Salvador and China this past year. Ashley is the daughter of Francis and Minerva Jackson.
“Ashley has a wonderful personality that sparks excitement with everyone she meets,” said Nunno. “She is a great all-around performer and in the words of her coaches, she’s money in the bank’ when it comes to competing.”
OKLAHOMA RANKED NO. 11 IN PRESEASON POLL
The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team, coming off an 20-11 season, was voted No. 11 in the GymInfo Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. All four teams from the Big 12 made the list, as Nebraska was No. 10, Iowa State No. 14 and Missouri rounded things off at No. 22.
UCLA was voted No. 1 for the fifth consecutive year, receiving 15 first place votes followed by Georgia (three first place votes), Stanford (four first place votes), Alabama (one first place vote) and Utah (two first place votes).
“We are honored to be voted by our peers to be considered one of the top 12 teams in the nation,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “I believe that this is the highest preseason ranking we have ever received here at the University of Oklahoma. Although our team believes that we can better our eleventh place finish from last season, we’re proud to be ranked among the nation’s best.”
Last season, OU put together one of its most productive seasons by winning its first Big 12 Championship and first regional championship. OU went on to finish eleventh at the NCAA Championships. Nunno’s 2005 team will feature nine letterwinners (two All-Americans) from last year’s team that made the program’s fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships. In addition, eight newcomers join OU’s team hoping to make an immediate impact and help the Sooners defend their Big 12 title.
OU will compete against seven teams ranked in the preseason poll in 2005 (three in the top 10) and it will open up the season in Cancun, Mexico against Brigham Young, George Washington and Gustavus Adolphus College (Division III) on January 7. The first home meet for OU is on Jan. 21 against Kent State inside the Lloyd Noble Center.
The following is a complete list of the top 25 as selected in the preseason by the coaches:
Preseason Top 25
9. Arizona State
12. Oregon State
14. Iowa State
15. North Carolina
18. Brigham Young
19. Penn State
23. West Virginia
The 2004 Crimson and Cream Intrasquad was a success and gave the coaches and athletes a realistic impression of where they stand heading into the season opener in Cancun, Mexico. It was a close competition between the two teams, the Crimson edged out the Cream team by three tenths of a point.
Crimson team 156.625
Cream team 156.325
As a team, the two squads combined for a solid 196.7 overall tally, where ﬁve of the best scores were counted in each event.
Similar to the years past, the bars is quickly shaping up to be one of the Sooner’s strongest events. Out of the 12 bar competitors, Ashley Cooney, Erin LaBarr, and Kristen Cox led the way all three scoring a 9.85 or higher.
The beam was highlighted by a couple of 9.9 tallies from senior Nicole Gause and sophomore Ashley Cooney.
The strength of the team might rest on the ﬂoor exercise. Senior Erin Labarr led all scorers (9.875) and was followed by freshman Coral Borda (9.875) and Cooney (9.85).
On vault, it was Cooney again leading the Sooners with a 9.95, while junior Kristen Cox was a close second with a 9.9. LaBarr executed a ﬂawless 9.9 start value vault, scoring a 9.8.
OU's 2005 Schedule
*all times local and subject to change.