NORMAN, Okla. The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team (12-1) travels to Ames, Iowa, for a Big 12 Conference matchup with the No. 9 Iowa State Cyclones.
It will be the Sooners fifth consecutive meet against a ranked opponent. OU tallied its only loss of the season against No. 5 Nebraska before upsetting No. 8 Georgia on Feb. 13. Most recently, Oklahoma defeated two teams in three days as they knocked off No. 20 Auburn Friday, Feb. 18 and No. 24 Missouri Sunday, Feb. 20.
The Sooners are No.7 in this week’s, the first to incorporate the regional qualifying score, national rankings.
Oklahoma has built its recent success on the heels of four all-around competitors senior Erin LaBarr, junior Kristen Cox and sophomores Ashley Cooney and Brittney Koncak.
Koncak, who won the all-around title at the Sooners’ last meet, has reemerged as a weekly awards contender after injury ended her 2004 campaign.
The last meeting between the Cyclones and the Sooners during the regular season resulted in the first home loss for current head coach Steve Nunno. OU delivered swift revenge, however, winning the Big 12 Championship title in Iowa.
With only four meets remaining before the 2005 Big 12 Championships, the Sooners’ schedule doesn’t get any easier.
OU returns to the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Saturday, March 5, for their third meeting of the season with Texas Woman’s University before facing No. 1 LSU and No. 16 Southern Utah to finish the season.
The Oklahoma-Iowa State matchup begins at 7 p.m. CST. A recap and complete results will be available on SoonerSports.com soon after its completion.
SOONERS INVADE T-TOWN
Fans from the Tulsa metro area have their best chance to see the University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team live in action as they take on the LSU Tigers on Friday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at the John Q. Hammons Arena.
The competition pits the No. 7 Sooners against the No.1-ranked Tigers.
“This is the first time under my direction that Oklahoma has held a meet in Tulsa,” OU head coach Steve Nunno said. “We are bringing a big-time event to Tulsa with the No. 1 and No. 7 gymnastics teams in the country.
“This is the first time in five years, since I brought Shannon Miller to the Mabee Center in 2000, that Tulsa has seen Olympic-level gymnastics. This is the main event as part of a great weekend with the Oklahoma state high school championships that morning and afternoon and a junior club event Saturday.”
“It will be fun to watch,” Nunno said. “This will be a great competition of teams and individuals.”
Oklahoma is in the midst of its best season in two decades as they own an 11-1 record and their highest ranking ever at this point in the season.
LSU is ranked No. 1 for the first time in the program’s history.
“We match up very well with LSU,” Nunno said. “The difference between us and them is less than a point.”
The Tigers are led by the nation’s No. 22 all-arounder April Brookholder. Oklahoma is led by No. 4 Ashley Cooney and No. 8 Erin LaBarr of Bartlesville, Okla.
“We rely on four experienced all-arounders to carry us, while LSU builds its strength on individuals who specialize in each event,” Nunno continued. “It should be a very compelling match.”
It will also be a banner day for local education as the event celebrates Tulsa Elementary School Day. The school with the largest percentage attendance will receive a new computer.
“It’s a great chance to really show our support for our fans who do not get to see us as often as they would like,” Nunno said.
OU will also hold an autograph session immediately following the competition.
Tickets for the event can be purchased on-line at www.StarTicketsPlus.com, by calling 1-800-585-3737 or by visiting any metro Albertson’s location. Children under 12 are free with a paid adult.
GYMINFO COACHES POLL
Poll No. 7: Feb. 21
1. LSU 196.575
2. UCLA 196.465
3. Michigan 196.365
4. Utah 196.35
5. Nebraska 196.215
6. Florida 196.16
7. Oklahoma 195.805
8. Georgia 195.79
9. Iowa State 195.575
10. Denver 195.085
11. Arkansas 195.075
12. Oregon State 194.9
13. Brigham Young 194.82
14. Central Michigan 194.81
15. Penn State 194.605
16. Southern Utah 194.57
17. Arizona 194.27
18. Washington 194.115
19. Minnesota 194.06
20. Auburn 194.05
21. Arizona State 193.885
22. Illinois-Champaign 193.685
23. Michigan State 193.68
24. Missouri 193.235
25. Utah State 192.695
OKLAHOMA INVITATIONAL RECAP
The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team was victorious at the Oklahoma Invitational Sunday, Feb. 20, at Lloyd Noble Center.
Oklahoma swept all four events and posted a 196.50 overall score. Big 12 rival Missouri was second at 193.925, Centenary College third at 192.075, and Texas Woman’s University fourth at 191.35.
Despite competing just two days ago in Auburn, Ala., the Sooners were crisp, posting their second-best score of the season and season-high tallies on beam (49.350) and floor exercise (49.450)
Individually, OU also dominated as four different Sooners won on the four different events.
Brittney Koncak (39.450) collected her first all-around title of the season, highlighted by a 9.85 routine that won the uneven bars title. LaBarr won beam with her best score of the season, a 9.90. Sooners also collected the other two event titles, with Ashley Cooney (9.925) winning vault and Kristen Cox (9.925) winning floor with a new career-high score.
BEAMING WITH CONFIDENCE
After rather unimpressive results on the balance beam early in the season, the Sooners have recently brought their game up to par with their performances on the other three apparatuses.
In Oklahoma’s first three meets the team’s average score on beam was 47.908. In the next three meets the average in 49.0, highlighted by the team’s first score above the 49 benchmark, a 49.250, last time out versus Georgia.
At the OU Invitational last Sunday, Feb. 20, the Sooners posted a season-high beam score of 49.350.
The recent string of results has moved the Sooners from a No. 31 beam ranking in week four up 15 spots to No. 7 this week.
COONEY EARNS FIRST GYMNAST OF THE WEEK HONOR
Sophomore Ashley Cooney was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for Feb. 1 by the conference office. Cooney earned the honor for the first time in her career.
The sophomore from Plano, Texas, won her third consecutive all-around title with a 39.350 at the Ohio State Triangular. The scored matched her season-high set the previous week. In addition, Cooney won the vault (9.9) and floor (9.875) while helping Oklahoma to the team title. Her vault score also matched a season-high.
Cooney is the second Sooner to earn the honor this season. Senior Erin LaBarr was tabbed as gymnast of the week on Jan. 11.
Cooney, whose lowest vault score this season is 9.8, is currently ranked No. 4 in all-around competition, third on vault, 28th on beam and fourth on floor.
HIGH START VALUE
Despite falling out of the undefeated ranks to Nebraska, the Sooners moved up in the polls one spot to No. 9.
OU recorded its second best start in program history at 7-0 before losing Saturday, Feb. 5, in Lincoln. The best start was recorded in 1985.
Coached by Becky Switzer, the 1985 team swept through their schedule with a 13-0 record before finishing in 10th place at the NCAA Championships.
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.
Against, Kent State, she again won the all-around 39.350). Cooney was victorious in three events and scored a season-high 9.85 on the uneven bars. The Plano, Texas, native also won vault (9.80) and floor exercise (9.9).
At Ohio State, Cooney captured her third consecutive all-around title (39.350), matching her season-high score in the process. She also picked up wins on vault, with a season-high matching 9.9 stick, and floor exercise.
Cooney hit two career-high 9.95 routines on vault and floor, clinching victory for the Sooners in an upset win of No. 7 Georgia.
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 Jan. 11. 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 eighth in the nation in the all-around, No. 10 on the uneven bars, No. 10 on beam and No. 20 on floor.
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)