|OU Team Highs|
NORMAN – In front of a packed house in the Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center, members of the defending national champion Oklahoma women's gymnastics team displayed their 2017 routines at their annual intrasquad on Friday night.
OU previewed new routines and skills on all four events in a live meet setting with two judges per event, highlighted by a perfect 10.0 for freshman Maggie Nichols on bars. Nichols and senior Chayse Capps participated in the all-around, with seven Sooners competing on each apparatus.
“I thought it was really great," OU head coach K.J. Kindler said of the night. "We got out in front of a crowd, got the nerves out. We had a huge crowd here, so I was really excited about that. We hit all our routines, lots of improvement to make, and that’s kind of how intrasquad goes, so very happy.”
The Sooners started off the night on a strong note, recording a 9.85 on six of their vaults. Nichols made her presence known early, nailing her Yurchenko 1 1/2 for a team-best 9.925 in the anchor spot. Sophomores Alex Marks and Brenna Dowell also looked solid, recording marks of 9.875.
“Vault was good," Kindler stated. "Landings, obviously, are something you refine as you go, but we’re looking for dynamics, height, distance, things like that, and I thought that was great. We have three 10.0 vaults in our lineup, and they were performed very well, very safely, and I think that’s the name of the game in college gymnastics. So, a very good event."
On bars, the Sooners put together another impressive top-to-bottom performance, led by a perfect 10.0 for Nichols.
“Where do you go from there? She’s going to earn that score, I feel, lots of times this season. She’s just that good," Kindler said. "It’s just an indication of what’s to come.”
In the No. 4 slot on bars, Dowell contributed a 9.9 to continue a strong night in her return to the Sooners following a deferement last season, and senior McKenzie Wofford tallied a 9.875.
“I thought bars was probably one of our best events – very clean, very precise for this time of year, good handstands," Kindler explained. "I know they were all a little nervous, and I think that usually comes out in your handstands – you’re kind of a little short or you go a little long, but I thought they were pretty good tonight, so that was good."
Capps, a returning All-American on beam, was steady as always on the event, recording a team-best 9.9, and Nichols scored a 9.825.
“Beam was a little bit shaky here and there, but altogether, very solid," Kindler said. "All seven routines hit, and that’s always a good thing."
Closing the night with energy, the OU lineup shined on floor, capped by Nichols with a score of 9.925 as the anchor. Capps tallied a 9.9 in the No. 5 spot, while junior AJ Jackson recorded a 9.875.
“On floor, it was the first time they danced in front of a crowd, so it was fun to see them kind of play with their music a little bit, and when they dance in front of a crowd, they dance a little harder than they do in practice, so they get a little more tired for tumbling," Kindler shared. "That’s good to get them in that situation. I thought it was fun to see all of the new floor routines, and the crowd had great energy, so it was good.”
Freshmen Brehanna Showers and Jade Degouveia were sidelined on Friday due to a minor injury and illness, but Kindler said she expects both to return soon and compete for spots in the lineups.
The Sooners will open the 2017 season at 6:45 p.m. CT on Friday, Jan. 6, against Alabama in a matchup of two Super Six squads from a season ago. Fans can snag season tickets to catch every moment of OU's exciting home slate, which also features contests against UCLA (Jan. 15), Denver, Nebraska and TWU (Feb. 3) and Georgia (Feb. 24).