Sweet 16: OU Advances to NCAA Championship
|Vault||Snead (UGA), Korth (UK)||9.95|
|Bars||Nichols (OU), Oakley (UGA)||10.0|
|Beam||Eight gymnasts (Four from OU)||9.95|
|Floor||Trautman (OU), Vega (UGA)||9.975|
|OU Team Highs|
|Vault||Degouveia, Lehrmann, Trautman||9.9|
|Beam||Dowell, Lehrmann, Webb, Nichols||9.95|
ATHENS, Ga. – For the 16th straight season, the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team is headed to the NCAA Championship.
An incredible night was capped off with a perfect 10 from junior Maggie Nichols, fitting as the Sooners secured their 10th consecutive regional championship.
“It’s even more special now because four teams are left out,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “There’s only eight teams going so it’s almost like you’ve already made the Super Six. You’re one of eight so it’s pretty amazing. We just have to prepare as well as we can and walk in the door and do our very best.”
OU posted a nation-high 198.475, just .025 off the program record set in 2015. That marks the seventh score of 198 or better for the Sooners in 2019 and is the highest road score in NCAA history. Georgia placed second at the meet with a 198.050, followed by Cal (197.675) and Kentucky (197.600).
“This was definitely an obstacle that we knew that we would face pretty soon,” senior Brenna Dowell said. “Having two competitions back to back isn’t easy and to do even better on the second day after having a great first day – that’s really important for us moving into nationals where you have back-to-back competitions again. To do this at regionals, it’s a really good step in the right direction for nationals.”
The Sooners earned a share of three of four event titles and took home the top spot in the all-around. Sophomore Anastasia Webb set a career-high with a 39.675 in the all-around to earn the title. Nichols won the bar title with her second perfect 10 of the season.
Dowell and senior Nicole Lehrmann, sophomore Anastasia Webb and Nichols all shared the beam title with 9.95s. Freshman Olivia Trautman took home top marks on floor with a 9.975.
OU came out on a mission to secure their spot in Fort Worth with an incredible 49.700 on beam, the third-best mark in program history and best in regional competition.
“We started on balance beam which is an event we have not started on this year so that was new to us,” Kindler said. “We’ve been practicing a lot in the gym because our plan was to win the first session and start there. That was hugely important, and I think that practice helped us a lot. That was the best beam set we’ve done all year. 49.700 feels like a record, I’m sure it’s not, but it sure feels like one. After that it just felt like we were on cloud nine and just used that adrenaline throughout the rest of the meet.”
Every Sooner tallied a 9.9 or better, with four earning marks of 9.95. Trautman started things off with a 9.9, followed by back-to-back career-high 9.95s from Dowell and Lehrmann.
Sophomore Carly Woodard tallied a 9.9 in the No. 4 spot, while Webb and Nichols anchored with matching 9.95s.
“There was definitely a lot of mental toughness today,” Dowell said. “This arena was probably the loudest arena we’ve ever competed in. Starting on beam that can sometimes be tough but our team handled it really well. That was our best beam rotation of the season. We really used the energy from around here just to have lights-out beam and floor rotations and carried that energy to the end.”
The Sooners kept things rolling with a huge 49.675 on floor, counting five scores of 9.9. Webb led off with a career-high 9.95 to set the tone for Oklahoma. Sophomore Jordan Draper and junior Jade Degouveia each added 9.9s.
Sophomore Evy Schoepfer tallied a 9.875 in the No. 4 spot and Dowell recorded a 9.95 in the No. 5 spot. Once again, Trautman was exceptional as she earned a 9.975 in the anchor spot.
“This floor lineup was huge,” Dowell said. “To go in there after a little bit of a rough time at Big 12s and hit two great floor rotations gives a lot of confidence to the people who’ve struggled, a lot of confidence to the rest of the team just to believe in everyone. It’s really exciting to put everything together at the end of the season.”
OU notched a 49.450 on vault in the third rotation. Lehrmann led off with a 9.9, followed by a 9.85 from Webb. Degouveia and Trautman each added 9.9s while Nichols and Dowell notched 9.875s to close out the rotation.
The Sooners ended the meet with another incredible bar rotation, notching a 49.650 for the second night in a row. Webb led off with a season-high 9.925, followed by a 9.850 from senior Alex Marks. Sophomore Karrie Thomas tallied a 9.9 while Dowell earned a 9.875. Lehrmann recorded a 9.95 in the No. 5 spot to set Nichols up for her third career perfect 10 on bars.
The NCAA Championships will be held at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, April 19-20. The Sooners will be in Semifinal II Friday, April 19 at 6 p.m. CT. OU will be joined by Georgia, Denver and Oregon State.
“We’ve come really far since the beginning of season and we have two more weeks to fine tune everything,” Dowell said. “Every other team is going to get better and we have to get better right along with them.”