Sooners Post Nation's Highest Score in Season Opener
|Vault||Brenna Dowell (OU)||9.950|
|Bars||Maggie Nichols (OU)||9.925|
|Beam||Brehanna Showers, Vivi Babalis (UGA), Rachel Dickson (UGA)||9.900|
|Floor||Maggie Nichols (OU), AJ Jackson (OU), Sabrina Vega (UGA)||9.900|
|OU Team Highs|
|Floor||Brena Dowell, AJ Jackson, Maggie Nichols||9.900|
ATHENS, Ga- The defending national champion Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team began the 2018 season by posting the nation’s highest score to top Georgia 197.550-196.600 at Stegemen Coliseum. The Sooners not only recorded the top team overall score, but posted a nation-leading 49.450 on vault to start the season on a high note.
The win marked the 12th straight road victory for the Sooners, who have posted a 9-3 record in home openers under head coach K.J. Kindler. OU boasts a 71-10 all-time true road record under the 12th-year head coach.
“It was so nice to stop watching and start doing,” Kindler said. “Now we have a base to build on and we will head back to the gym and continue to refine the details. Great start.”
The Sooners secured team event titles on vault, bars and floor and took home at least a share of the individual event titles on on all four events. Freshman Anastasia Webb shined in her collegiate debut, recording a 39.400 in the all-around.
“There were lots of new faces on the floor tonight,” Kindler said. “I’m so proud of how they handled themselves.”
The Sooners looked in mid-season form on bars posting a 49.425, the second highest score in the nation. Sophomore Maggie Nichols snagged the event title with a 9.925, while OU posted six scores of at least 9.850 to take a 49.425-49.050 advantage.
Senior AJ Jackson set the tone from the beginning with a 9.850, a score that would be matched by routines from Webb and fellow senior Stefani Catour. Juniors Brenna Dowell and Nicole Lehrmann had beautifully stuck landings after putting together a pair of impressive routines for scores of 9.9.
OU carried the momentum from bars over to vault where it posted the highest event total of the day with a 49.450. The Sooners counted five scores of at least 9.850, putting up four vaults with 10.0 start values. Dowell took home the event title as she nailed the landing on her Yurchenko 1 ½ for a huge 9.95.
Sophomore Brehanna Showers, competing in her first meet as a Sooner after a season ending injury in 2017, led off with a huge 9.875 on her Yurchenko full. Lehrmann’s Yurchenko full would also notch a 9.875 to help pace the Sooners to their nation-leading score on the apparatus.
Continuing the string of 10.0 start values, Webb scored a 9.850 on one of the more unique vaults of the night, an Omelianchik. Jackson anchored with a Yurchenko 1 ½ of her own, scoring a 9.9 to put the exclamation point on the rotation for the Sooners.
“We were particularly sharp on bars and vault out of the gate,” Kindler said. “Very confident.”
Following an impressive vault outing the Sooners looked strong on floor, posting a 49.375 to Georgia’s 49.325 on beam. In the ever-important leadoff spot, Showers contributed a solid 9.850 to her collegiate debut.
Dowell continued her outstanding meet rolling to her third score of at least 9.9 on the day, with a 9.900. Nichols once again dazzled the audience with her beautiful choreography and powerful tumbling for a 9.9 in the No. 5 spot. A fan-favorite on floor, Jackson got the Sooner fans in attendance hyped up with an exciting performance in the anchor spot for a 9.9.
Closing out on beam, Catour led off with steady 9.825, a score that would be matched by Lehrmann in the No. 4 spot. In the No. 2 spot, Showers would end her first collegiate meet on a high note with a 9.9 to secure the event title. The Sooners would continue to rely on their youth as Webb and Nichols anchored the event with a pair of 9.875s.
“This was not our normal aggressive performance on beam, but we’ll take it,” Kindler said. “You could see the nerves working themselves out.”
Next weekend, the Sooners open their home slate, welcoming Iowa State and TWU to the Lloyd Noble Center on Sunday Jan. 21. The meet is set for a 2:45 p.m. CT start and will be the annual Beauty and the Beast meet in conjunction with OU Wrestling. Tickets are available for purchase online or by calling the OU Athletics Tickets Office at (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.