Streaking Sooners Want First Big 12 Title

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 27, 2003

March 27, 2003

The Oklahoma women's gymnastics team travels to Columbia, Mo., for the Big 12 Championships, Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the Hearnes Center. The conference championship will be aired (tape delay) on Fox Sports Southwest, April 3, 5 and 9.

"I think we are in great position right now," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "We are hitting our stride. We're healthy and we are in the correct mind frame to make a run at the Big 12 title."

OU has never won the Big 12 title and faces stiff competition in No. 2 Nebraska, who enters the meet fresh off a school team scoring record and as perhaps the hottest team in the country. The Huskers have posted the highest score in the country in three of the last five weeks.

"When I took this job I said I wanted to win the Big 12 and a national title," said Nunno. "This is the best squad we have ever had and we're ranked No. 6. We have put ourselves in good position to do that."

The Sooners, who have scored 196.950 or better over the last five meets, havebeen on a roll similar to the Huskers. OU has outscored every team in the top-10 at least two times during the last month of competition iwith the lone exception being the Huskers and Arizona State.

OU defeated No. 13 Iowa State and No. 25 Missouri inback-to-back weekends at the end of February. Those victories put the Sooners in second place in the conference regular season standings. Oklahoma has sufferered two losses to the Huskers this year.

In both losses they failed to score 196, which the Sooners have eclipsed by at least a point in the last four meets. OU has excelled away from Norman, which is positive sign considering the Sooners will be on the road for all of championship season. Nunno's squad has posted five of its top six scores on the road this season.

This year's squad has set itself apart from Sooners of the past in a number of ways. The Sooners have broken every team scoring record except vault this season. They also are the first team in OU history to score 197 points in four straight meets. Add in their current ranking No. 6 (highest postseason ranking ever), seven meet win streak, undefeated home season and two broken individual records and this squad has set itself apart.

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 13-2 since the Super Six with six victories over ranked opponents. While the Big 12 does not keep regular season standings, the Sooners would be in second place.

Karina Agafonova - Posted identical 9.850's on bars and floor at Stanford.
Tara Anderson - Only competed as exhibition at Stanford.
Patricia Aoki - Senior continues roll with 19 career-high scores in nine meets.
Kristin Cox - Rookie vault specialist posted a solid 9.875 at Stanford.
Meredith Fricke - Dropped out of the top-25 rankings on floor exercise.
Nicole Gause - Freshman was key to the Sooners defeat of No. 1 UCLA.
Christy Gerard - Steady senior posted 9.9's on vault and floor last weekend.
Kelly Haggerty - Rookie ranks No. 16 on beam.
Katie Hostler - Freshman is a finalist for Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
Erin LaBarr - Competed for the first time in three meets and scored 9.95 last weekend.
Allison Landis - Landis is the top-ranked Sooner at No. 8 nationally on bars.
Leah Mueller - Senior will likely end her career as a bars specialist.
Melissa Smith - Freshman consistently posts scores over 9.8 on beam and bars.
Kasie Tamayo - Healthy junior finally competing on three events with regularity.

The Sooners moved up to No. 6 in the GymInfo weekly poll, nine spots better than two weeks ago. As a team, OU tops out at No.5 in the country on floor. They are also ranked No. 9 on beam, No. 8 on bars and No. 12 on vault. Individually in the national rankings senior Patricia Aoki is ranked No. 18 on the floor and No. 16 on vault. Allison Landis is the highest ranked Sooner at No. 12 on beam and No. 13 on bars. Freshman Kelly Haggerty stands No. 16 on beam, while junior Kasie Tamayo is No. 20 on bars.

Academic Awards
Patricia Aoki, Leah Mueller and Allison Landis of the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team were named to the All-Big 12 Academic Team according to the conference office. All three Sooners received first team academic honors.

"Allison Landis showed great improvement in the classroom from last season," said OU Head Coach Steve Nunno. "These awards are something the entire program is proud of. Our seniors have led this team academically and athletically, which is the reason we are having so much success this season. Patricia is an amazing story to me because she always been the first in the gym and the last one to leave. On top of that, she has a language barrier (Aoki is a native of Brazil). Yet despite all the obstacles, she has been on this academic team for three straight seasons."

Like Aoki, Mueller is a three time member of the All-Big 12 Academic First Team, while this is Landis first award.

Four Big 12 schools sponsor women's gymnastics. Each school - Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma - has at least three representatives on the academic squad. The Huskers lead the league with nine overall selections with seven on the first team and two on the second.

Nominated by each institution's director of student-athlete support services and the media relations offices, the women's gymnastics academic all-league squad consisted of 15 first-team members combined with four on the second team. First-team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better grade-point average, while the second team are those who have a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.

To qualify student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 grade point average or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 60 percent of her team's scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are eligible.

Last Time Out (at Stanford)
The No. 9 Oklahoma women's gymnastics team had it seven meet win streak snapped by No. 8 Stanford, 197.725-197.275, in Palo Alto, Calif., Saturday night. The news wasn't all bad for OU, as they set a school record by being the first team in OU history to score 197 in four consecutive meets. The Sooners drop to 13-7 on the season, while the Cardinal improved to 11-2-1.

Individually the Sooners were led by Big 12 Gymnast of the Year Finalist Patricia Aoki who posted three scores of 9.875 or better. The senior co-captain took top honors on floor with a score of 9.925. Aoki has not scored below 9.900 on floor in eight meets. Aoki also impressed on beam (9.900) where she finished in a three way tie for third.

Aoki was the only Sooner to snag a first place finish. The Sao Paolo native was tied with freshman Kristen Cox for fourth on vault with identical 9.875's. Senior Christina Gerard tied for second on the event with a score of 9.900. Gerard also finished in a four-way tie for second behind Aoki on the floor with a score of 9.900.

Sophomore Erin LaBarr, who had been held out of the last three meets, posted a team-high score of 9.950 on bars and finished tied for second on the event. Junior Kasie Tamayo and No. 9 ranked Allison Landis finished in sixth and seventh on the event with scores of 9.875 and 9.850, respectively.



Sooner Sports Properties, LLC, is the multimedia rights holder for athletics at the University of Oklahoma.
Sooner Sports Properties is a joint venture of Learfield Communications and Tyler Media, LLC.


Sooner Sports Powered by FOX Sports is a multi-platform network that provides distribution of 1,000+ hours of Sooner sports programming annually on a variety of FOX Sports outlets, including FOX Sports Oklahoma, FOX Sports Southwest, and FOX College Sports.