UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team scored a 196.175 to defeat No. 25 Penn State (195.775) at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa., on Saturday. The Sooners got off to a rocky start on the uneven bars (48.575), typically their strongest event, but rebounded strong tying their season-high on the balance beam with a 49.250.
“We had a tough start to the competition having to count some falls on bars,” said Oklahoma head coach Steve Nunno. “But we rebounded by hitting five of our beam routines. I am extremely proud of the way we were able to dig ourselves out of a hole and pull off this victory, especially on the road. ”
Keying the win on the balance beam were freshman Ashley Cooney and sophomore Melissa Smith. Cooney and Smith both managed identical 9.900s to tie for first place. It marked a career-high for Cooney and tied a career best for Smith, who finished first for the first time in her career.
Also playing a large factor in the Sooners’ victory was senior co-captain Kasie Tamayo, a candidate for Big 12 Gymnast of the Year. Tamayo was solid again as usual for OU, winning the all-around (39.550) for the fifth straight time and the eighth overall this season. The Sacramento, Calif., native also took first on the uneven bars (9.900) and floor exercise (9.925). She has finished first in the all-around and other four events a combined 34 times this season.
Cooney finished second behind Tamayo in the all-around with a career-high 39.500. Sophomore Kristen Cox matched her career-best on the floor exercise with a 9.875 which put her in a tie for third place.
The No. 12 Sooners outscored the Nittany Lions on the balance beam (49.250-48.525) and the floor exercise (49.375-49.175), while PSU bested OU on the uneven bars (48.925-48.575) and the vault (49.150-48.975).
“It is never easy to score on the road, especially on the east coast where scores are traditionally lower,” said Nunno after wrapping up the regular season. “Our scores were low tonight but we hung together as a team, stayed tough and pulled off a big win.”
The Sooners (11-9) now enter the post season starting with the Big 12 Championships, hosted by Iowa State, taking place on March 20 in Ames, Iowa.