OU Closes Regular Season Big 12 Slate at Mizzou

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 17, 2010

Feb. 17, 2010


 No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 17 Missouri
 Date  Friday, Feb. 19 | 6:30 p.m. (CT)
 Location  Columbia, Mo. | Hearnes Center
 Tickets  (800) CAT-PAWS
 Live Stats  Scoring
 Video  Webcast (All-Access) | TV (Metro Sports - tape delayed, TBA)
 Meet Notes  Sooners 

COLUMBIA, Mo.  - The second-ranked OU women’s gymnastics squad wraps up its Big 12 regular season slate at No. 17 Missouri on Friday at 6:30 p.m. (CT).  Oklahoma dropped to No. 2 in the latest Troester rankings released Monday despite posting its highest score since 2004 in its 197.250-196.225 “Beauty and the Beast” victory over No. 16 Iowa State on Feb. 12.

The Sooners hold a season average of 196.563, just behind top-ranked Alabama’s 196.575 average through the first six weeks of competition.

Oklahoma holds the best season average of all four Big 12 squads on every apparatus, while the Sooners hold the top mark in the individual standings on every event but vault.  Sophomore All-American Megan Ferguson is the highest ranked Big 12 gymnast on any apparatus with her second-place standing on beam (9.888).  Hollie Vise remained perfect on bars this season with her sixth consecutive win on the apparatus against the Cyclones, positioning herself fourth in the country with a 9.896 average.  Natasha Kelley also pushed into the top 15 nationally on bars with her current 11th-place showing (9.863).  Jackie Flanery is ranked No. 13 on floor in this week’s ranking with a season average of 9.871.

Missouri improved to 7-1 on the year with a  Valentine’s Day 195.000-189.800  victory at Centenary.  The Tigers are led by Sarah Shire, who won the 15th all-around title of her career last weekend.  Shire is currently ranked 18th nationally in the all-around with a season average of 39.167.

Oklahoma Roster | 2010 Schedule and Results | Intro Video


Missouri returns seven letterwinners from last season’s group that finished the 2009 campaign with a 20-6 record and a No. 13 final ranking.  The Tigers are 3-0 at home this season, averaging a 195.417 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo., in 2010.

Missouri’s only home meeting with a top 25 opponent came in a 196.400-196.000 victory over then-No. 17 Iowa State on Jan. 22.  The victory over the Cyclones was one of three wins this season over top-25 opponents for the Tigers, who bested No. 14 Kentucky and No. 16 LSU at the Lady Luck Invitational in Las Vegas on Jan. 16. 

The Sooners have won the last 12 meetings with MU.  The Tigers last victory in the series came on Feb. 29, 2004 in a 197.000-196.650 win in Columbia, Mo.  Missouri’s final tally was its fourth highest in program history. 

Oklahoma is 50-6 in the regular season under K.J. Kindler, including a perfect 9-0 mark in 2010.  The Sooners went 10-4 during the regular season in 2009, with three of those losses coming on the road (Florida, Nebraska and Alabama). 

Individually, the Sooners have a gymnast ranked in the top 15 on three of the four events.  Sophomore All-American Megan Ferguson is the highest ranked Big 12 gymnast on any apparatus with her second-place standing on beam (9.888).  Hollie Vise remained perfect on bars this season with her sixth consecutive win on the apparatus against the Cyclones, positioning herself fourth in the country with a 9.896 average.  Natasha Kelley also pushed into the top 15 nationally on bars with her current 11th-place showing (9.863).  Jackie Flanery is ranked No. 13 on floor in this week’s ranking with a season average of 9.871. 

The Sooners are 26-2 in Norman under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.  OU’s only two losses at home have come against SEC opponents in Alabama and Arkansas.  Top-seeded Alabama knocked off the Sooners en route to the NCAA South Central Regional title in 2008, while OU’s loss to Arkansas in the 2009 home opener marked Oklahoma’s only regular season home defeat in Kindler’s tenure.     

Among the 55 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford and West Virginia. 

The Sooners seek some of the same road success in 2010 that they have exhibited in recent years. On the young season, two of Oklahoma’s top four scores have come in road competition, including a 196.650 at No. 25 Illinois.  Five of OU’s top seven scores (including a season-high 197.175 at TWU) came away from Norman in 2009, a year after five of Oklahoma’s top seven scores (including three of the top four and a season-best-tying 196.750 at Arkansas) came on the road.  Oklahoma was the only squad in the top 10 to have both of its top two scores from 2009 come in road competition.  OU’s 197.175-189.600 victory at TWU last season marked its best team score since Jan. 24, 2004 (197.300).

Oklahoma holds the best season average of all four Big 12 squads on every apparatus, while the Sooners hold the top mark in the individual standings on every event but vault.  The back-to-back Big 12 Champions are 18-2 against conference opponents under K.J. Kindler, including a 10-1 mark during the regular season. 

Oklahoma ascended to No. 1 nationally in the Troester rankings released Jan. 8, marking the first time in the program’s 30-year history that the Sooners have accomplished the feat.  OU overtook Alabama in the poll, marking the first women’s sport at Oklahoma to be ranked No. 1 during the regular season.  Women’s gymnastics joins baseball, football, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s gymnastics, softball and wrestling as the eight OU sports to achieve a No. 1 ranking.  

The back-to-back Big 12 Champions are the first conference squad to be ranked No. 1 in the country since Nebraska held the top spot for one week of the 2005 season (Feb. 28, 2005 poll).


Sara Stone | So. | VT-FX 
Stone returned from an ankle sprain that kept her out of the floor lineup the first five meets of the year with a 9.85 in her season debut on the apparatus in last week’s “Beauty and the Beast” meet.  The sophomore gymnast showed glimpses of her potential on floor last season, posting a 9.825 in OU’s regular season trip to Alabama and a 9.85 in the Sooners return to Tuscaloosa just two meets later for the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship.  An already potent vaulter, Stone has posted at least a 9.8 on the apparatus in 18 of 19 career appearances.   


Every Oklahoma gymnast in the bar lineup against Iowa State set or tied a career high.  The Sooners posted a 49.425 on the apparatus, marking their third different event to record a score of at least 49.400 on this season.  OU, Alabama and Georgia are the only three teams in the country that have scored at least a 49.400 on three different events in 2010. 

It was the second week in a row that the Sooners have had at least four gymnasts set a career high during a single rotation as OU had four gymnasts in the floor lineup accomplish the feat against Nebraska and TWU.

The Sooners are one of just six squads to advance to the NCAA Championships every year since 2004, joining Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Utah on that elite list.  OU’s six championship appearances in the last six years matches the other three Big 12 programs combined during that period.  Nebraska advanced to the NCAA Championships from 2004-07, while Iowa State made back-to-back appearances in 2005 and 2006 under K.J. Kindler.      

OU has found a way to win despite the lack of a true all-around presence.  Oklahoma’s only all-around competitor this season was Kayla Nowak against Illinois, while the Sooners were the only squad ranked in the final 2009 top-15 GymInfo poll without a gymnast in the top-25 all-around rankings.   

Nowak was a last-minute addition to the vault lineup at Illinois and placed second in her first collegiate all-around appearance. 

In OU’s six meets this season, it has had five different gymnasts post the team’s highest score on vault, four on bars, three on beam and two on floor.  In all, nine different Oklahoma gymnasts have at least tied for OU’s highest score on an event during a meet this season. 

Forty-seven of Oklahoma’s 144 routines this season have been performed by freshmen (.326), including exactly half of OU’s uneven bars routines (18 of 36).  The group is 46-of-47 on the year.  Each freshman that has competed has scored at least a 9.8 in one of their routines, while Natasha Kelley has already tallied 12 scores of at least 9.85. 

The Sooners have collected 41 of a possible 48 combined individual and team event titles in 2010, including at least six combined individual and team event wins in each meet.  OU has won every team event title on bars and floor in 2010.    

OU posted its highest event score on any apparatus under Kindler with a 49.600 on the floor exercise against Nebraska.  The Sooners closed the rotation with five scores of 9.9 or higher.  Oklahoma picked up career highs from Kristin Smith (9.95), Kayla Nowak (9.925), Hollie Vise (9.925) and Megan Ferguson (9.9), while Flanery sealed the win with a 9.9 in the final routine of the night. 

Just like last season’s second road meet of the season, the OU beam squad provided its breakout performance of the 2010 campaign in its second road outing at Illinois with a team tally of 49.500 on the apparatus.  OU reeled off five straight 9.85s or better after a fall from the first position on beam at Illinois.  Vise and Smith shared event honors with 9.95s, while Ferguson (9.9), Kelley (9.85) and Nowak (9.85) completed a sweep of the individual event standings on the apparatus.  

Oklahoma’s beam tally was its second highest event total on the apparatus under Kindler, just behind OU’s 49.525 on beam at TWU on Jan. 17, 2009.

OU trailed for the only time after any rotation this season as Illinois opened with a 49.100 on vault, to OU’s 49.000 start on bars.  The Sooners overtook the Fighting Illini during the next rotation and cruised to their eighth-straight win over Illinois, remaining undefeated in the series and posting the second-largest margin of victory in any meeting between the two programs (+2.255). 

The Sooners are the only team in the NCAA to score at least a 196.000 in every meet this season.  OU has counted a fall twice this season, but still posted a 196.463 average during those two meets.    

The back-to-back Big 12 Champions open the 2010 season ranked ninth in the GymInfo preseason coaches poll, the highest ranking of any conference squad.  The Sooners return 11 members from last season's group that clinched OU's second straight conference title. 

Headlining OU's returnees is sophomore All-American Megan Ferguson.  The Olathe, Kan., native capped off her stellar freshman campaign by garnering All-America status on beam at the 2009 NCAA Championships.  She became the first freshman in Big 12 history to win multiple event titles at the conference championship (bars and beam).

Other returnees include All-Big 12 selections in Jackie Flanery (floor - 2008), Melanie Root (vault - 2009), Kristin Smith (floor - 2009) and Hollie Vise (bars - 2008, beam - 2008, 2009).  The quartet has combined for nine Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honors in the past two seasons.

Also returning in 2010 are event title winners Mary Mantle (Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week on Feb. 12, 2008, after her vault win at Denver) and Sara Stone (three vault titles in 2009).

This season also marks the final send-off for Julie Kramer, while other returnees include juniors Candace Cindell and Natalie Ratcliff.  Ratcliff was a mainstay in the vault and beam lineup a year ago.

OU gymnastics fans also will have their first chance to see Oklahoma's freshman class of Bethany Neubauer, Kayla Nowak, Brie Olson and Nitya Ramaswami. The class was recently ranked No. 9 in the country by CollegeGymFans.com.

The OU gymnastics program maintains its own Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts, which are updated frequently with all of the latest news about the squad.  Links to each of those pages can be found at www.SoonerSports.com, the official site of the Oklahoma Sooners. 

Head Coach K.J. Kindler announced the signing of three gymnasts to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 11, the first day of the early signing period.  All hailing from the Lone Star state, the trio of Lauren Alexander (Plano, Texas), Hope Bruce (Denton, Texas) and Taylor Spears (Plano, Texas) will cross the Red River to join the Sooners next fall.

Bruce is a Junior International Elite qualifier, while Alexander and Spears both excelled at JO Nationals prior to signing with the Sooners. 

If the old adage rings true, the Sooners should be on top of their game in 2010 as the team recently moved  into of the top training gyms in the entire country.  OU recently completed a state-of-the-art 7,000 square foot addition and a complete overhaul of the existing Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center for the men's and women's gymnastics squads. 

Funded entirely by private donations without the use of any state or university appropriated funds, the project included a complete renovation of the current gym, locker rooms, sports medicine training rooms and the awards recognition room.  A new storage area, a reconfiguration of foam and resi pits and an outdoor patio also highlighted the renovation.



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