Oct. 31, 2002

Our gymnastics family would like to welcome all of you to SoonerSports.com and what promises to be another great season for our Sooners. This weekly report will summarize the progress of our team throughout the preseason and 2003 schedule.

Although the Sooners fell short of qualifying for the National Championships last year, the team came back with a vengeance in preparation for this season. The addition of six outstanding newcomers (five freshmen and one sophomore) has brought a new life to our group. Since the beginning of official practices three week ago, head coach Steven Nunno has the team training in the morning and practicing in the afternoon.

"Our team has gelled quickly and bonded well," said Nunno. "This was unexpected because half of our team is new. Our practices have been going well. Most of our gymnasts have already learned new skills or combinations, which keeps the morale high. We are looking forward to facing eight of the top 12 teams from last season in what is one of the most ambitious schedules in the country and likely the toughest in OU history."

Up to now we were concentrating on upgrading our skill level on every event. This week we are moving skills from the resi pit to the floor and getting our half routines together. We hope to have everyone's routines set on these events by the time we have an intrasquad battle in early November. On beam we have improved tremendously from where we were last year. Nine out of 12 gymnasts have added a triple series to their beam routine. The focus has switched now to trying to get double back dismounts from the top competitors. Assistant coach Jenny Rowland expects big things from the team on beam, especially considering OU lost only one competitor on the event from last season.

"I believe the upper class will be the backbone of our competitive beam team," said Rowland. "I have high expectation for all of the girls. Mariana Goncalves is going to be a big shoe to fill. I have confidence that with the addition of our freshman, our beam team will actually be more consistent than last year."

On the vault, our primary focus has been trying to improve the newcomers skills and move them more towards round off entry vaults. For the first time in school history we should see six gymnasts with 10.0 start values.

Floor has been a surprise thus far with numerous gymnasts adding new skills. In retrospect, this is the event in which we have the most depth.

Last year we were ranked in the top 10 on every event. One of our main objectives this season is to keep our all-arounders healthy from the start of the season to the end. Unfortunately we have had to deal with some injuries that will deprive us from being at full force at the beginning of the season. Thankfully, we are expecting full recoveries and to be at full force by mid-season.

Next week, we will give you a preview of our routines for the upcoming season. In the meantime, get to know our 2003 team. We have added new pics and updated bios for every Sooner on the squad.

Nilson Savage Assistant Coach University of Oklahoma