NORMAN, Okla. The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team hosts its final home meet Saturday, March 5.
The Sooners (12-2), ranked No. 10 this week, look to rebound from a loss to No. 9 Iowa State in Ames last Friday with a victory over Texas Woman’s University.
“This week will be slightly different for us,” OU head coach Steve Nunno said. “We have one gymnast Ashley Cooney with an ankle sprain, so we’ll rest her this week and utilize some of our freshman talent.”
The event will be webcast live through the O-Zone.
It will be the third meeting between OU and TWU this season. The Sooners have won the two previous meetings.
OU women's gymnastics trading cards will be given to the first 250 fans.
“Really, we want to figure out which gymnasts want to be in the Big 12 Championship,” Nunno continued. “We have several women who nail their routines each week and more who deserve and opportunity to prove themselves.”
It will also be Senior Night for team co-captain Erin LaBarr. LaBarr, a 2004 All-American, will be competing in her final regular-season meet at the Lloyd Noble Center.
“It will be an unusual Senior Night considering it really isn’t our last home meet,” Nunno said. “I doubt it will be as emotional since we host the Big 12 meet in Norman. I think it will be a great situation for her to have some fun.”
The OU-TWU matchup begins at 7 p.m. The men’s team, ranked No. 3, will also compete simultaneously against No. 1 Ohio State.
“The night will be high-energy,” Nunno said. “This team, as opposed to last year’s team, is a much better home team.’ They really thrive off the energy from our fans.”
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.
IOWA STATE RECAP
The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team (12-2) lost to Iowa State, 196.25-195.05.
The Sooners began on the uneven bars and posted a season-low 48.525.
The Sooners were outscored on vault for just the second time this season, 49.35-49.075, as Iowa State swept four of the top-five places.
Caitlin Hinkis, performing her first competitive collegiate routine on the apparatus, tied with teammate Stephanie LoPiccolo for second place after a 9.875 routine.
The Sooners scored 49.250 on beam, their only event win of the night.
Erin LaBarr took the beam title, posting a Sooner individual season-high and career-best matching score of 9.925.
LaBarr also won the all-around title, her third of the season, and shared victory on uneven bars with a 9.875 routine.
Kristen Cox continued her string of good performances, scoring a career-high 9.825 on beam and season-high 9.85 on bars.
GYMINFO TOP 25
Week No. 8: Feb. 28
1. Nebraska 196.72
2. LSU 196.66
3. Utah 196.645
4. UCLA 196.465
5. Michigan 196.365
6. Florida 196.24
7. Alabama 196.21
8. Georgia 196.125
9. Iowa State 195.84
10. Oklahoma 195.815
11. Oregon State 195.235
12. Denver 195.085
13. Arkansas 195.075
14. Brigham Young 195.055
15. Central Michigan 195.035
16. Kentucky 194.625
17. Penn State 194.605
18. Southern Utah 194.57
19. Minnesota 194.425
20. Auburn 194.33
21. Arizona 194.27
22. Washington 194.115
23. Michigan State 194.09
24. North Carolina 194.005
25. North Carolina State 193.925
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, 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 17 spots to No. 5 this week.
COONEY EARNS GYMNAST OF THE WEEK
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. 5 in all-around competition, ffith on vault and 13th 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 ninth in the nation in the all-around, No. 9 on the uneven bars and No. 10 on balance beam.