Sooners Top Bruins in Top-Two Battle
|Vault||Kyla Ross (UCLA)||10.00|
|Bars||Kyla Ross (UCLA)||10.00|
|Beam||Maggie Nichols (OU)||9.975|
|Floor||Katelyn Ohashi (UCLA)||10.00|
|AA||Kyla Ross (UCLA)||39.850|
|OU Team Highs|
|Bars||Dowell, Lehrmann, Nichols, Thomas||9.925|
NORMAN – The most anticipated meet of the season came down to the wire as the No. 1 Sooners took down the No. 2 UCLA Bruins, 197.775-197.575, in front of a record-crowd of 10,177 at Lloyd Noble Center Sunday afternoon.
With over 10,000 fans in the stands, the Sooners shattered the previous attendance record set earlier this season against then-No. 2 Florida. For the first time, the Sooners took down the curtain, opening the entire arena for fans to enjoy the meet.
"When we first got here, the average attendance was 600 people and we have built a fanbase,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “To double your highest attendance is an explosion. Our marketing department has done a phenomenal job pushing this competition, but this schedule and the teams that are coming in here are the best in the country; they also bring fans in. When you have No.1 OU vs. No. 2 Florida, No. 1 OU vs, No. 2 UCLA and then the next meet is Alabama."
"These teams are great teams and people shouldn't miss out. This is some of the best of the best this sport has to offer in the country and so those teams coming out are exciting for Sooner fans. They know it's going to be a battle and it's always a battle."
Just like the 2018 regular season meet, the two teams went into the final rotation tied. The Sooners used one of their best floor rotations of the season to come out on top and remain undefeated.
“This is what I was most proud of,” Kindler said. “You go to the last event, and you are tied with the No. 2 team in the country and you know it is their beam to your floor. UCLA is one of the best beam teams in the country, so I know that they're going to bring it. Floor has been a work-in-progress for us, and I feel like we arrived today.”
Sophomore Anastasia Webb started the final rotation exactly how the Sooners needed with a 9.9. Sophomore Jordan Draper added a 9.9 of her own in the No. 2 spot and freshman Emma LaPinta tallied a career high 9.875 to keep the momentum rolling.
“To me, Emma (LaPinta)'s routine was the thing that set us over the top,” Kindler said. “I'm really proud of Jordan (Draper) too stepping in there, and Anastasia starting us off. She was the fifth in our lineup last year. She is one of our best. I think a lot of times the perception is "you never put your best up first." That's not true. We always start with a really, really strong first competitor. If you're in that spot, we trust you like no other. To be in that spot is a huge compliment. She started this floor lineup off with a 9.9 and I say that was hugely important for us.”
The final three all earned 9.9s or better, starting with a 9.9 from junior Jade Degouveia. Senior Brenna Dowell notched a 9.925 and freshman Olivia Trautman anchored with an incredible 9.95 to secure the victory for OU.
“Those last three were great. And then Olivia, like a 9.95, did not do a floor routine this week. I hate to bring all these things forward, but it does tell you how mentally strong they are and how tough they are. Even physically strong, because to take that much time off and to come through like that is huge."
OU opened the meet with a stellar vault rotation and a 49.425 to UCLAs 49.300 on bars. Degouveia had her best vault of the season, matching her career-high with a 9.95 on her Yurchenko 1.5. Dowell added a 9.9 in the anchor spot, while freshman Olivia Trautman and sophomore Anastasia Webb each tallied a 9.850. In the leadoff spot, senior Nicole Lehrmann added a 9.875.
“Our landings were quite good,” Kindler said. “Nicole Lehrmann starting us off on that event was almost her best vault of the year, if not her best vault of the year. I'm really proud of her, and everybody else stepped it up. Brenna (Dowell) ended vault with a bang there. I thought it was her best executed, but maybe not her best landing, but very good. Olivia (Trautman) was touch-and-go all week since Monday. She came through huge on vault for us.”
Carrying the momentum into the bar rotation, the Sooners had one of their best of the season to extend the lead. OU notched a 49.575 to UCLA’s 49.225 on vault in the second rotation to take a 99.000-98.525 lead.
Webb started the rotation strong with a 9.825, followed by a 9.875 from senior Alex Marks. Sophomore Karrie Thomas tied her career high with a 9.925 in the No. 3 spot to start a chain of four consecutive scores of 9.9 or higher.
Dowell, Lehrmann and Nichols all followed Thomas’ lead, scoring 9.925s of their own to close out the rotation on a high note.
“Best bars of the year,” Kindler said. “Five stuck dismounts, which was gigantic for this score. Only missed one dismount, and Anastasia did a really good job controlling her landing. Her dismount was a little crazy, so she did a good job controlling that landing. Alex Marks stepping up a little under the weather today, so there was a lot of diversity to get through. Maggie (Nichols) was also touch-and-go this week with foot issues, knee issues, so we've been trying to protect her. Therefore, we're just weening her in one thing at a time, doing what she is capable of doing. Of course, she would tell you she can do it all, but we have to be really smart. We have a lot of season left.”
The Sooners were a tad uncharacteristic on beam, tallying a 49.200 and allowing UCLA to use a 49.675 on floor to bring the match to a tie at 148.200.
“This is an event I think we were cautious on,” Kindler said. “We were missing our starter, Olivia, because we decided to pick and choose where she would go. Brenna stepped in. I wouldn't have picked anybody else to step in. It wasn't her characteristic normal beam routine. Just a little shaky. She's a very strong mental competitor. She did a good job. She could've done a little bit better. She knows that. Nicole (Lehrmann) came through again. She just changed her beam routine two weeks ago. I thought it was a great routine. (Maggie) did not touch the beam this week, did not practice this week... 9.975. That just tells you a lot about Maggie Nichols.”
Nichols was clutch in the anchor position, earning the event title with a 9.975 to bring the Sooners even with the Bruins. Lehrmann tallied a 9.875 and Webb added a 9.850 to keep OU steady in the rotation. Dowell and sophomore Evy Schoepfer each recorded a 9.750.
The Sooners will hit the road for the final time in the regular season for a dual weekend at Michigan and Iowa State. OU will face No. 9 Michigan on Saturday, March 9 at 11 a.m. CT. before traveling to conference rival Iowa State on March 11 for a 6:30 p.m. CT meet.