No. 2 Sooners Soar Past No. 8 UCLA

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Chelsey Kraft
By Chelsey Kraft
Assistant Director of Communications
JANUARY 15, 2017
UCLA
196.825
198.025
Oklahoma
Team Scores
  Vault Bars Beam Floor
OU 49.425 49.475 49.600 49.425
UCLA 49.075 49.350 49.450 48.950
Event Winners
Event Gymnast Score
Vault Chayse Capps (OU), Maggie Nichols (OU) 9.925
Bars Nicole Lehrmann (OU), Maggie Nichols (OU), Kyla Ross (UCLA), Christine Peng-Lee (UCLA) 9.925
Beam Chayse Capps (OU) 9.975
Floor Maggie Nichols (OU) 9.95
AA Maggie Nichols (OU) 39.750
OU Team Highs
Event Gymnast Score
Vault Chayse Capps, Maggie Nichols 9.925
Bars Nicole Lehrmann, Maggie Nichols 9.925
Beam Chayse Capps 9.975
Floor Maggie Nichols 9.95
AA Maggie Nichols 39.750

NORMAN — For the second straight week, the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team faced a top-10 opponent and 2016 Super Six qualifier. And for the second consecutive meet, the No. 2 Sooners rose to the challenge, defeating No. 8 UCLA, 198.025-196.825, on Sunday afternoon inside Lloyd Noble Center.

In front of a near-record crowd of 4,017, the Sooners impressed as they topped 198 in just their second meet of the season, the earliest they have done so in program history.

“I’m so excited to have such an amazing crowd," head coach K.J. Kindler said. "I think that was the highlight of the night. It was electric in here, and I’m excited that we had that with the students not even being back yet. Knowing that when the students get back, that number is going to continue to grow. I can feel records being broken here for our last three meets that are right here in Norman and Oklahoma City. That’s what I was most excited about."

The Sooners posted the top team marks on all four events and secured at least a share of all the individual titles. Both freshman Maggie Nichols and senior Chayse Capps dazzled in the all-around, recording totals of 39.750 and 39.700, respectively.

Nichols and Capps shared the vault title with a 9.925, and Nichols and sophomore Nicole Lehrmann shared the bars title with UCLA's Kyla Ross and Christine Peng-Lee after scoring 9.925s. On beam, Capps shined with a big 9.975, and Nichols anchored the meet with a statement, scoring a 9.95 on floor.

On vault, the Sooners posted a 49.425 to take the early lead over the Bruins, who recorded a 49.350 on bars. Capps stuck her landing for a big 9.925 in the No. 3 spot, and Nichols later anchored with the same score. Junior AJ Jackson contributed a strong 9.9, while sophomore Brenna Dowell tallied a 9.85 in the No. 4 slot.

"Vault, we had really great landings," Kindler said. "Chayse absolutely nailed her landing. Maggie accomplished a better landing than last week. She was a lot more aware of where she was. AJ also improved from last week. Those three really stood out as improving from last week. Overall, vault was great. When you’re going 49.4s here at the beginning of the season that’s a really good sign. What I also liked was that we had Nicole Lehrmann do exhibition, but we actually had several people ready to go in that spot. I feel really good about our depth there."

Capps carried over her momentum to bars, starting off the rotation with a 9.9 for the Sooners. Junior Stefani Catour followed with an identical score before sophomore Nicole Lehrmann contributed a big 9.925 in the No. 3 spot. Nichols anchored with another 9.925 to bring OU’s score for the rotation to 49.475. At the midpoint, OU’s total was 98.9, increasing their lead over the Bruins, who had a 98.425 through two events.

"On bars, again, we had really good angles," Kindler said. "We had that miss, but McKenzie (Wofford) rarely misses. Maggie had her back and went after her and took care of that. You know those things happen, especially at the beginning of the season. Your team has to be able to be strong and remember to trust their training, and that doesn’t change what they’re going to do. If there’s a mistake in front of them, they just have to calm down and reel it all in to take care of it. I was really impressed in that rotation, in particular with Nicole Lehrmann’s bar routine. It was very sharp. Stephanie’s release move was much bigger this week. Samantha Craus did the exhibition in that spot and we have a couple ready there. I’m seeing our depth grow, and I think at this time of the season, that’s the most important thing we have our focus on."

The Sooners created some distance in the third rotation after scoring a 49.600 on beam, tied for their fourth-best total on the event in program history. UCLA posted a 48.950 on floor in the third rotation as OU took a 148.450-147.375 lead into the final event.

Capps displayed her dependability on beam once again, earning a 9.975 as the anchor after earning a 10.0 from one judge. Nichols and junior Natalie Brown both put together beautiful routines for marks of 9.95 and 9.925, respectively. In the No. 3 spot, Catour was steady with a 9.875, while Jones started the rotation off on a solid note with a 9.875.

"Balance beam was a little earth-shattering," Kindler said. "You know, when you have a miss early on in the lineup it’s always tough. I like that we’re being put in that situation. It shows me how strong our people are in the beam lineup. This is the second week we had a miss. We had a miss both weeks, and both were uncharacteristic. Nico has never fallen in her career, so this is not something that happens every day. Sometimes it’s good to get that mistake out of the way so you can refocus. I was really impressed though. We had four people go after her and they were very solid. They weren’t just trying to stay on the beam, they were nailing with no move. I thought Chayse’s routine was much improved from last week. I also think Maggie’s improved as well, but still not the capability she has to kill it on beam. 49.6 is huge for us."

OU then headed to floor to close the meet and picked up right where they left off on beam, scoring a 49.525, punctuated by a 9.95 from Nichols as the anchor. Jones led off with a solid 9.875 before Brown added a 9.85, and the Sooners continued to build from there. Capps, Dowell and Jackson tallied three straight 9.9s. In the final rotation, UCLA posted a 49.450 on beam.

"I thought floor was exceptional tonight," Kindler said. "I thought it was the first week as well. I’m really impressed again with our stamina and the way we’ve been able to have great fitness in that way. We finished our routines with a lot of amplitude in those last passes. We had good landings throughout. I’m looking forward to the day, hopefully in a couple of weeks, where we can be more expressive with our dancing. I know right now we’re holding back a little because we want to make sure we’re nailing our tumbling. They can be even more expressive though, and more beautiful in their dance. I’m looking forward to that day."

Next weekend, the Sooners embark on their first road trip of 2017, taking on Big 12 foe and No. 21 West Virginia. The meet is slated for Saturday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. CT in Morgantown, W. Va., and will stream through Mountaineer TV.

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