April 24, 2010
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Oklahoma women's gymnastics staff swept the coaching accolades at the 2010 NCAA Championships, as fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler was named National Coach of the Year, while Lou Ball and Tom Haley shared Assistant Coach of the Year honors. The awards were announced at Saturday's NCAA Championships brunch at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the campus of the University of Florida.
It's the second time that Kindler has been selected by her peers for the accolade, as she won Coach of the Year honors in 2005 while at the helm of the Iowa State program.
Kindler is the only coach in NCAA history to lead two different programs to the Super Six Team Finals, a format that was instituted at the 1993 NCAA Championships. The five-time Big 12 Coach of the Year guided Oklahoma to a second-place finish at Friday's team finals, as the Sooners posted the best finish in an inaugural Super Six appearance since Arizona State placed second in its first showing in 1997.
Kindler also guided ISU to its lone appearance in the team finals in 2006.
Under the direction of Kindler, the Sooners closed the year with a final record of 33-5. The win total breaks the previous program best of 26 that was set in 1989 under Becky Switzer. Kindler guided the Sooners to the only undefeated regular season in the NCAA this year (22-0) en route to postseason titles at the Big 12 Championship and University Park Regional.
The team ascended to No. 1 nationally on Feb. 8, marking the first time in the program's 30-year history that the Sooners have accomplished the feat. It marked the first time a Big 12 squad has been ranked No. 1 in the country since Nebraska held the top spot for one week of the 2005 season (Feb. 28, 2005 poll). The Sooners reached No. 1 status again on Feb. 22, marking the first time a Big 12 squad has been ranked tops in the country for multiple weeks of a single season.
OU was ranked first or second in every regular season poll in 2010, as the Sooners were the only squad in the country to score above a 196.000 in every meet this season.
Oklahoma also picked up its first win over a No. 1 opponent in program history with a 197.950-197.275 victory over top-ranked Alabama on March 5. OU eclipsed its previous program best (197.725) by 0.225 in the win, which was the highest score in the NCAA this season and the best by a Big 12 squad since Nebraska and Iowa State ended a March 14, 2004, dual deadlocked at 198.000 apiece.
The primary coach on beam, Kindler's beam squad was a mainstay at the top of the NCAA rankings all season. Oklahoma posted event titles in 12 of 13 competitions entering NCAAs, while seniors Hollie Vise and Kristin Smith garnered All-America distinction on the apparatus on Thursday.
The primary coaches on vault, bars and floor, Ball and Haley led Oklahoma to top five RQS rankings in the final Troester poll on each apparatus, including a share of the top spot in the country on vault and a No. 2 ranking on bars. OU won 35 of a possible 39 team event titles on the assistant coaching duo's primary events.
OU claimed team event titles on all three of their coaching specialties in the first two postseason meets in 2010, as the Sooners won their third-straight Big 12 crown and first regional title since 2006.
The Sooners closed the year with a 49.300 or better in six of its last seven outings on vault under the tutelage of Ball, including a 49.500 in OU's upset of top-ranked Alabama, marking the highest score on the apparatus by the Sooners since 2002. Sophomore Sara Stone posted a 10.00 on vault in a road event at Michigan State on Feb. 26, marking the third perfect score on the apparatus under Ball's tenure.
OU won 12 of 13 team event titles on bars under the direction of Haley and Ball, while Vise earned All-America distinction and a spot in Saturday's event finals on the apparatus. The Sooners didn't count a fall on the apparatus all season, while OU posted only two team scores below 49.000, with a season low of 48.950.
Under Haley's guidance, the OU's floor squad posted the highest score on the apparatus in the NCAA this season (49.625), while Smith, Vise and Jackie Flanery all earned All-America distinction.
The Sooners posted 12 team event titles on floor in its first 13 appearances, while Flanery entered the NCAA Championships as the top floor worker in the country.