OU Edges Competition for Perfect 10 Win
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- The top-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics team battled to a first-place finish at the 2014 Perfect 10 Challenge at the Cox Convention Center Arena Friday night. OU eked out a 197.200 victory over No. 5 Alabama (197.100), No. 7 Michigan (196.200) and West Virginia (193.525).
The meet was a competitive contest across the board, with each team winning at least one event title. Haley Scaman earned OU's lone individual victory of the evening in a 9.925 floor routine.
"The first half of the meet I thought we were coasting a little bit and not fighting for every little thing, not competing aggressively," head coach K.J. Kindler said. "I thought the last half of the meet, they fought. But you don’t want to get yourself in a position where you’re fighting, fighting, fighting all the way through the meet. At the same time, they came through in the clutch and that's a great trait to have."
The Sooners got off to a solid start on vault, earning a 49.350. Despite not breaking the 49.400 threshold for the first time this season, OU saw strong performances across the board. The fourth-ranked vaulter in the nation, Haley Scaman continued her streak of 9.9+ efforts with a 9.9 in the No. 5 spot. Maile'ana Kanewa earned a 9.875, and Kara Lovan tied her career-high of 9.875 with a strong vault for Oklahoma.
The Sooners established an immediate lead following one rotation. The squad's 49.350 was tops, followed by Alabama (49.225), Michigan (48.350) and West Virginia (48.225).
Oklahoma earned a 49.225 in the second rotation, paced by a team-high 9.875 from senior Taylor Spears. The trio of Keeley Kmieciak, Rebecca Clark and McKenzie Wofford were also key for the Sooners, each earning 9.85 performances to aid the lineup.
OU extended its lead by a slight margin after the second event, holding a 98.575 to pace all teams. Alabama maintained its position in second (98.300), Michigan sat third (97.475) and West Virginia came in at fourth overall (97.350).
The Sooners picked up another solid outing on beam with a 49.300, led by Rebecca Clark's team-best 9.925. Freshman Chayse Capps earned a 9.9 with a fluid routine in the No. 3 position, while junior Erica Brewer earned a 9.85 in the No. 4 spot. Oklahoma's 49.300 was a meet-best among all four teams by a solid margin of .225.
Oklahoma kept rolling after three events, leading the meet with a 147.875. Alabama stayed on OU's heels with a 147.550, while Michigan used a strong outing on vault to boost their team score to 146.900. West Virginia brought up fourth at 147.875.
The squad moved to floor knowing it would need a strong rotation take home the victory. The Sooners attacked floor, earning a 49.325 to edge out Alabama and take home a win. Scaman's team-high 9.925 led the way, clinching the victory in the final meet of the evening for the Sooners after a fall. Lovan's strong night continued as she earned a 9.9 on the even, her second in two weeks, and Brewer picked up a key 9.85 at the No. 3 spot.
Oklahoma went blow-for-blow with Alabama in the final rotation and emerged victorious with a 197.200. The Crimson Tide took second at 197.100, Michigan came in third with a 196.200 and West Virginia earned fourth at 193.525.
The Sooners enter a two-meet home stretch over the next two weeks, beginning with No. 14 Illinois next Friday night. Oklahoma will face the Fighting Illini at 6:45 p.m. CT, with a live broadcast available on Sooner Sports TV.
"I think staying at home will help us a little bit with recovery," Kindler remarked. "We definitely are trying to peak here for nationals with four meets and then the Big 12 Championship left in the regular season. We want to get in our prime physical condition so staying home I think will help us: working on our fitness, working on the details that we’re going to need to refine if we want to contend for a national championship.”