March 30, 2000

NORMAN, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics team will compete in NCAA Regional 1 competition Saturday in Corvallis, Ore., at 8 p.m. CST. The six-team meet held inside Gill Coliseum will be hosted by Oregon State University. Besides the 10th-ranked Sooners, the field will include No. 2 UCLA, No. 15 Stanford, No. 18 Washington, No. 20 Oregon State and Boise State. The top two teams will advance to the NCAA Championships which are scheduled for April 13-15 in Boise, Idaho.

Oklahoma, which owns an impressive 12-4 record, is coming off a third-place finish at the Big 12 Championships two weekends ago in Ames, Iowa, when it scored a 195.550. OU finished behind No. 8 Iowa State (196.775) and No. 5 Nebraska (196.750).

Head Coach Becky Buwick's squad has been riding senior all-arounders Amber McCracken and Ginger Russell. McCracken, last season's Big 12 Gymnast of the Year, has garnered more event titles than any Sooner this season with 27 first-place victories, including six all-around crowns. The Olathe, Kan., native scored a perfect 10.0 on the vault in OU's Feb. 18 victory against Air Force and has been ranked as high as third nationally in the event. Russell, the 1998 Big 12 Gymnast of the Year, has won eight event titles this year, six of them on the balance beam. From Fort Smith, Ark., Russell finished second in the all-around competition and third on the beam at the Big 12 Championships.

Also providing a huge lift for OU this year has been redshirt-freshman Leticia Ishii. A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ishii claimed four all-around wins this season and peaked against Air Force with a school-record 39.650. She entered the month of March ranked eighth in the nation in the all-around. One of her strongest events is the uneven parallel bars, in which she has finished among the top three in eight of the last 10 competitions.

Oklahoma's rotation order has the squad starting on balance beam and then moving to floor exercise, vault and uneven parallel bars.

Individual qualifiers from Cal State Fullerton, California and Sacramento State will also be competing on Saturday.