Jan. 19, 2001
For their second meet of the season, the Sooners traveled to San Jose, California, January 19, for a quadrangle meet with California, Arizona and host San Jose State.
Dueling through most of the meet with the Golden Bears, Oklahoma missed the mark by .325, finishing a close second to California (194.4 to 194.025).
The Sooners started the meet on beam, a nerve-wracking event to begin on. Patricia Aoki's 9.225 set the stage for a tough night for the Sooners scoring wise. "We saw Aoki's score and it was like, 'OK, welcome to California,'" co-head coach Becky Switzer said. "She's one of our best beam workers and we put her up first to start the night off right. Her routine wasn't perfect, but when I saw her score I thought, 'Uh-oh, this is going to be a long night.''"
Despite concerns, the Sooners managed to stay consistent with strong efforts from Leah Mueller (9.475) and team captain Mariana Goncalves (9.75). "We went into this meet thinking that hitting was the key for us," Switzer said, "and to start out like that on beam, we were very excited, despite the low scores."
Moving to floor, an event the squad has been struggling with, the Sooners picked up the pace. Allison Mayberry, who rejoined the Sooner squad just three weeks ago, earned an impressive 9.775 and Mueller rocked the house for a 9.8. The solid team effort was capped by Aoki's meet-winning 9.875.
"Floor was a very slow start for us in the season opener," Switzer acknowledged. "We're a little behind the other teams there but I think we did a great job on that event in San Jose."
Switzer's co-coach Steve Nunno concurred with her assessment. "The toughest event for us right now is floor," he said, "so it's nice to redeem ourselves there. We've still got some bugs to work out, but floor was a lot better this time compare to our season opener."
By the meet's midway point the Sooners were battling with Berkeley for the top spot. On vault, where recent rule changes allow athletes only one chance at a top score, the Sooners were steady, even if they weren't throwing out their most difficult tricks yet.
Freshman Stacey Mardock opened with a clean handspring tuck front, followed by fellow frosh Sarah Leis (layout Yurchenko) and Kasie Tamayo (pike front). Redshirt freshman Mueller earned the meet's highest score on this even (9.85) with her clean layout Phelps.
"Again, we were just trying to hit," Switzer said of her team's strategy. "Our only goal coming into this meet was not to have any misses, and we did that."
Finishing the night on bars, possibly their strongest event, the Sooners hoped to pull ahead of California. But, despite an all out effort, including a clutch performance by Aoki and an event-winning 9.8 from Leticia Ishii (full-in dismount), who also finished second in the all-around, the Sooners fell just short.
"I have to give my assistant coach Nilson (Savage) credit for the girls great work on bars," Switzer said. "He's really shaped the squad up. Aoki had been struggling with a couple of releases and she hit them here, which was very exciting. It was also fun to see Carla DeMartini, who has been out with injury, come back and have a great bar routine.
"In the end, we were a little disappointed with the scores, but we met our goal of not having a lot of errors. We basically went 24-for-24 and won three of the four events. We're very pleased with that."