March 7, 2003

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MEET PREVIEW
The No. 15 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team hosts Texas Women's University and Centenary on Senior Night, Friday, March 7, at 7 p.m., inside the Lloyd Noble Center. OU will attempt to complete its second consecutive perfect home season and extend their home winning streak to 10 meets. Senior Christy Gerard, Patricia Aoki and Leah Mueller will be honored prior to the meet.

"Our goal is to break the school team record," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "This is the strongest team we have had all season. The team will have to hit on 24 of 24 routines but I know we can do it."

OU faced the Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas, on Jan. 17 and defeated the Pioneers 194.425-190.175. OU has defeated TWU 17 consecutive times and leads the all-time series 39-3. OU has won four straight meets, while TWU finished third in the Corvette Cup, hosted by Missouri, the last time out. Centenary finished fourth in a quad meet hosted by Auburn, in its last competition. Both squads are peaking, similar to the Sooners, and have recorded season-high team scores in the their last meets.

"This meet is about reconciliation for the mistakes we made against Missouri," said Nunno. "Up until last week we had been beating ourselves. We've fixed the mistakes in practice and at our last meet. Now we are diligently chiseling away at our routines to perfect the little things and improve entirely."

Despite having a 4-13 record, TWU is the top ranked Division II school, as well as being No.1 in the USAG Collegiate poll. The Pioneers scored a season high of 193.375 in the Corvette Cup.

Centenary is 4-7 on the season with a season-high score of 192.275. The Ladies are ranked No. 58 in the most recent GymInfo Division I poll and are No. 5 in the USAG poll.

After Senior Night, the Sooners head west to battle a trio of Pac 10 schools. The highlight of the trip is a meet with the top-ranked UCLA Bruins, March 16. OU will also face No. 18 Arizona, March 14 and No. 8 Stanford, March 21.

Admission to Senior Night is $5 for adults and $2 for children. For mor information on tickets, call (800) 456-GoOU. For more information on OU women's gymnastics, visit www.soonersports.com.

MULLIGAN PLEASE?
OU's sixth place finish in the season opening Super Six Challenge put the team in a hole record wise. One meet put the Sooners at 0-5 and it wasn't until the eighth meet that OU finally moved above .500. On the other hand OU is 7-1 since the Super Six with four consecutive victories over top 25 teams. While the Big 12 does not keep regular season standings, the Sooners would be sitting in second place.

AOKI ENTERS RECORD BOOKS
One meet after freshman Meredith Fricke earned a share of the OU school record on floor, senior Patricia Aoki matched the mark. Aoki scored a 9.950 at Iowa State and now shares the record with five others. The Sao Paulo native has collected 14 career-high scores in the last six meets.

SOONER UPDATES

Karina Agafonova - Set career-high on floor with 9.875 at Iowa State.

Tara Anderson - Bars specialist has scored identical 9.775's in last three meets.

Patricia Aoki - Of her 31 performances this season, only nine have garnered below 9.800.

Kristin Cox - Tied for first on vault with a 9.850.

Meredith Fricke - Fricke has finished in the top three on floor at five of eight meets.

Nicole Gause - Set career-high with 9.825 on vault against Missouri.

Christy Gerard - Senior set a career-high on floor (9.925) against Iowa State.

Kelly Haggerty - Haggerty has taken first place on beam in four of seven meets.

Katie Hostler - Stellar freshman has recorded only two scores below 9.8 on vault.

Erin LaBarr - Still consistent on vault despite being bumped out of rotation on bars.

Allison Landis - Returned to lineup against Iowa St. after sitting out Missouri contest.

Leah Mueller - Did not compete on bars for OU prior to this year and has posted identical 9.875's in the last two meets.

Melissa Smith - Tied career-high with 9.850 on balance beam against Missouri.

Kasie Tamayo - Tamayo competed on two events at Iowa State, may add vault this weekend.

LAST TIME OUT

The No. 19 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team pulled out a crucial victory over No. 16 Iowa State Feb. 28, at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. OU's score of 196.950 was it highest of the season and enough to hold off the Cyclones who scored 196.150. OU improves to 7-6 on the season and 2-1 in Big 12 contests, while Iowa State drops to 4-6 overall and 1-2 in league.

"We were on fire," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "Winning a Big 12 road meet is very difficult. Every girl competed and turned in a great effort. They all had a sense of urgency and knew it was going to take their best effort to pull out this win. This is the first meet this season that the Sooners have been strong on every event."

Leading the way for the Sooners was senior co-captain Patricia Aoki, who finished second in the all-around with a score of 39.300. A week after freshman Meredith Fricke took a share of the school floor exercise record, Aoki put herself among elite Sooner company by scoring a 9.950 on the floor. Aoki and Fricke now share the school record with four others. Aoki's efforts landed her in a three-way tie for first on the event.

"Patricia has been our anchor all season long with her all-around performances, " said Nunno. "The team knew she was going to hit and they built on that confidence."

As a team the Sooners rewrote the school record book, breaking the all-time team balance beam score of 49.475, with a team score of 49.500. OU scored a season-high on vault, 49.225, while all four team scores were season-high road results.

Freshman Kelly Haggerty continued to impress by tying a career-high on beam with a 9.925 and finishing in first. Other OU top finishers were freshman Kristen Cox, tied for first on vault (9.850), and Kasie Tamayo, second on bars with a 9.900. Freshman Melissa Smith turned in a career-high on balance beam with a 9.875 and Meredith Fricke continued her stellar rookie campaign with a 9.900 and sixth place finish on floor exercise.

"We must have hit on 20 of 24 routines," said Nunno. "I think we could have beat the majority of teams in the country. I am just very proud to be the head coach of this team. They are very talented and they have a lot more to give."

SOONER RANKS

The Sooners moved up to No. 15 in the GymInfo weekly poll, four spots better than last week. As a team, OU tops out at No. 10 on the balance beam. They are also ranked No. 14 on bars, No. 16 on floor and No. 19 on vault. Individuals in the national rankings include senior Patricia Aoki who is ranked No. 11 on the floor and freshman Meredith Fricke is ranked No. 22. Aoki is also ranked No. 26 in the all-around. Kelly Haggerty slid to No. 26 on the balance beam.

In the regional rankings, OU is third on every event except vault, where they rank fourth. Individually, Aoki is ranked No. 6 in the all-around, No. 3 on floor and No. 13 on bars.

HOME MAT ADVANTAGE

When Head Coach Steve Nunno entered the collegiate ranks he saw the lofty home winning streaks that Utah, UCLA and Georgia have had over the years and knew that the Sooners needed to join that group. During his two years at the OU helm, the Sooners have been perfect in Norman. The streak, while short of Utah's 23-year run which ended this season, currently stands at nine straight meets and could be extended to 10 if OU wins on Senior Night, March 7.

ROOKIE RECORD

Freshman Meredith Fricke has played an instrumental part in Oklahoma's success this season. Fricke was the early season surprise from OU's stellar freshman class and has continued to impress.Fricke tumbled her way into OU history, recording a 9.95 on the floor exercise and tying the Oklahoma school record against Missouri. Fricke is the only freshman to hold the record, which she shares with four former Sooners and senior Patricia Aoki.

SENIOR TRIBUTES


Patricia Aoki
Patricia Aoki was a member of the Brazilian National Team before joining the Sooners and has showed off her considerable talents during her time in Norman. Aoki is quite possibly the most improved gymnast in the Big 12 this season. She has set 14 career-high scores in the last six meets leading into tonight contest. The most dramatic of those career bests was last weekend against Iowa State when she snagged a share of the OU school record on floor with a score of 9.950. She was named All-Big 12 in 2001 and garnered All-Big 12 Academic Honors in 2002. She will graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in health and sports sciences.

Christy Gerard
Christy Gerard transferred to Oklahoma from George Washington University after her sophomore season. Despite the change of scenery, the Texas native, has been a stellar competitor every time out. The highlight of Gerard's senior campaign came at the Lloyd Noble Center against Boise State and Utah State, when she competed in the all-around for the first time in her collegiate career. Gerard garnered a score of 39.125, the second highest all-around score by any Sooner not named Patricia Aoki. In 2003 she has finished in the top three on individual events five times, including two first place finishes. She has collected career-highs of of 9.650 on vault, 9.725 on bars, 9.900 on beam and 9.925 on floor.

Leah Mueller
Oklahoma native Leah Mueller has been a vital piece of Sooner gymnastics for the last three seasons. She may have wielded the most influence on the program as a team leader in and out of the gym. She was voted to the position of co-captain by her teammates and has been named to the Academic All Big 12 team twice. Mueller will leave OU with a piece of the OU school record on vault, thanks to the perfect 10 she landed against Iowa State last season. Mueller has battled a knee injury all season and has only competed twice in 2003 before tonight. In her two meets this season, Mueller has produced solid scores and second and fourth place finishes. She will graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in communications.

COACH'S THOUGHTS

On Christina Gerard-
"Christina has been amazing story. She came to Oklahoma as a beam specialist and she is leaving as an all-arounder. She is a truly talented and wonderful kid."

On Patricia Aoki-
"Patricia results speak for themselves. She is our stong hold, our leader. Her work ethic has always been refreshing and from that she provides great team spirit. No one saw Patricia as a top all-arounder last year because of her shoulder surgery but this season she has lived up to the expectations she has always had for herself."


On Leah Muelller-
"Leah is a bit of a tragic story. This was supposed to be her biggest season but she suffered a knee injury right before the season opener. Her true colors are have shown as she has battled back to be one of our top bars performers. Her strength and personality have really helped carry this team."

On senior leadership-
"The standard they have set for the team is outstanding. Their leadership has allowed our program to develop in other areas. We now have depth and newcomers who understand collegiate gymnastics. These seniors have laid the groundwork for our young teams future. I hope they can go out at home as a part of the school team record."

AROUND THE BIG 12


Iowa State Cyclones

Erin Dethloff took first place, set a career-high and broke the all-time Iowa State freshman record in the all-around competition for the third time this season (39.60), but ISU fell to the Sooners 196.150-196.950. Dethloff shared first place honors on the vault with OU's Kristen Cox (9.850). Jessica Oney claimed third place in the event (9.825). Winning the uneven bars competition was Dethloff with a 9.925. Freshman Laura-Kay Powell tied for second with Oklahoma's Kasie Tamayo (9.90). Sophomore Susan Stock grabbed second on beam with a 9.90. Dethloff finished in a tie for third with OU's Melissa Smith, 9.875. Dethloff and senior teammate Karen Kuplicki set career-highs and placed in a three-way tie for first on the floor along with Oklahoma's Partricia Aoki (9.950). Powell matched her career-high score and tied for fourth with Sooner Christy Gerard (9.925).

Missouri Tigers

Missouri's 195.925 team total set a new meet record and joins the Mizzou record books as the second-highest Tiger team total. The Tigers also set a new Corvette Cup standard scoring a 49.325 on the floor. The mark is also the second-highest in program history on the event.

Summing up the Tiger record breakers, Mizzou scored a 49.100 on vault and a 49.200 on the bars to set the Corvette Cup's second-highest meet scores on both events. Freshman Lauren Schwartzman scored two career-highs posting a 9.850 on the vault and a 9.900 to tie for first-place honors on the floor exercise. Freshman Katie Roets helped Mizzou putting up a career-high 9.800 on the vault. Junior Rachel Bridges recorded her third 9.850 career-high vault score on the year. She also hit a 9.825 on the floor exercise and finished third on the balance beam with a 9.775 mark.

Nebraska Huskers

Nebraska defeated No. 18 Penn State, 197.425-194.900. The Huskers broke 197 for the fourth time this season and secured the second-best away score on NU's all-time chart. With another strong performance, junior Richelle Simpson won the all-around title with a score of 39.70 to take first place on the vault (9.90), the bars (9.95) and the balance beam (9.95). Senior A.J. Lamb earned third place in the all-around competition with a score of 39.45. The Huskers had their best performance of the year on bars as each gymnast scored above a 9.875 to help NU to a season-high team total of 49.575, which ties for third on NU's all-time chart. The Huskers next take on Michigan on Friday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Mich.