March 19, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo . – The fourth-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics squad finished in second place at the 2011 Big 12 Championship on Saturday with a 196.500, behind No. 11 Nebraska’s 196.775. Iowa State finished in third place with a 195.150 while Missouri finished in fourth with a 194.975.
Oklahoma posted a season-high 49.450 on beam in the final rotation, but scored its third-lowest and second-lowest totals on vault and bars respectively at Saturday’s championship.
"We needed to compete harder out of the gate," OU Head Coach K.J. Kindler said. "When a meet is determined by tenths, every one counts. We competed so hard on balance beam tonight, we fought. It was too late."
After two falls on bars, OU trailed Nebraska by almost four-tenths entering the final rotation on beam. OU entered the championship ranked No. 2 on beam and needed a program-record score of 49.725 to catch the Huskers.
"This team has heart," Kindler said. "They knew it meant an amazing performance on beam, perhaps impossible. They went out like lions."
The Sooners rallied by posting six scores of 9.8 or higher, including a 9.9 from senior Natalie Ratcliff and 9.925s from both Megan Ferguson and Natasha Kelley, but finished in second just .275 behind the Huskers.
"I know that this will only make our team hungrier," Kindler said. "It will take an intense focus and team charge from this point forward."
The Sooners and Huskers have combined to win 13 out of the league’s 15 championships.
OU had three individual conference champions in Saturday’s championship. Ferguson and Kelley shared the Big 12 title on beam with their 9.925s, while Kayla Nowak won a share of the floor title with a 9.9.
"Our starters did their job on every event," Kindler said. "The fact is, we gave up nearly a point in landings on vault and bars combined."
The Sooners trailed Nebraska by just one-tenth after the first rotation. OU opened the meet with a 49.100 on floor while the Huskers posted a 49.200 on bars.
Nowak led the Sooners with a 9.9 in the anchor position. The 9.9 was Nowak’s third score of at least 9.9 on floor this season. Nowak has posted OU’s team-best score in seven of the 12 competitions.
Ferguson, Sara Stone and Taylor Spears added three scores of 9.8 or higher in the opening rotation. Ferguson posted a 9.85 on floor while Stone added a 9.825 and Spears a 9.8.
OU cut Nebraska’s lead to .075 after the second rotation, despite posting its third-lowest vault score of the season with a 49.050.
Stone scored a team-high 9.875 from the anchor position. Stone has 9.875 or higher in all 12 of OU’s competitions this season.
Madison Mooring and Kelley added scores of 9.825 and 9.8 respectively, while Nowak and Brie Olson both posted a 9.775 on the apparatus.
The Sooners posted their second-lowest score on bars in the third rotation, to enter the final rotation in second place with a 147.050 behind Nebraska with a 147.475.
OU had three scores of 9.85 on bars from Kelley, Olson and Hayden Ward, but was forced to count a 9.55 after Ferguson and Nowak both fell on their landings.
OU hosts one of six NCAA regionals on Saturday, April 2 at 4 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center. The event will feature the Sooners and five additional teams all vying for a spot at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 15-17. Regional pairings will be announced on Monday, March 21.