Champions: Sooners Win Fourth National Title
|Vault||Brenna Dowell (OU)||9.9875|
|Bars||Sarah Finnegan (LSU), Kyla Ross (UCLA)||9.95|
|Beam||Maggie Nichols (OU)||9.9625|
|Floor||Trautman (OU), Nichols (OU), Finnegan (LSU), Kelley (LSU), Ohashi||9.95|
|AA||Maggie Nichols (OU), Sarah Finnegan (LSU)||39.7625|
|OU Team Highs|
FORT WORTH, Texas – Did it for Dave.
The Sooners, who have dedicated their season to Dave Richardson, the late husband of their athletic trainer Jenn, posted a 198.3375 in the Four on the Floor to claim the national title at the 2019 NCAA Championships. The meet, which featured four of the top five NCAA seeds, was held inside the Fort Worth Convention Center on Saturday night.
"We have had moments of sadness and we have had moments of triumph,” OU head coach K.J. Kindler said. “That is what families do; they go through all of those emotions together. This year has been a miracle. To tell you a little bit of how we themed this year, we selected a song for every meet. Each song had a certain meaning and place we wanted them to be in that particular meet.
"Yesterday we picked the song 24k by Bruno Mars. The staff always meets before and we go through this massive turmoil. What should the song be? We pick that song and I noticed Jenn started bawling in the back of the room. When she did, I thought, 'Oh shoot, did I say something?' After everyone left, she said, 'That's Dave's song,' and when it comes on their daughter says, 'That's daddy's song.' I had no idea when we picked it. I know somebody up there and I know who it is is working some serious magic.”
The Sooners have worn blue ribbons in their hair and have written the hashtag “DIFD” on their hands every meet this season with the mantra “Do It For Dave.”
“"I know it is difficult what we went through as a team,” junior Maggie Nichols said. “We aren't a team; we are a family. This season we have grown so close. After losing Dave, we did it all for him. Every routine tonight was for him. He was there with us and helped us win this national championship."
The national title is the fourth overall and third in the last four years for the Sooners, who tied with Florida in 2014 for the crown before winning outright in 2016 and 2017. OU took a lead in the first rotation with a 49.450 on bars and never looked back, recording three straight scores of 49.600 or better with a 49.6125 on beam, a 49.6500 on floor and a 49.625 on vault to cap the victory.
The Sooners' 198.3375 is the second-highest total in NCAA history as the Sooners now hold the top two scores with a 198.3875 set in 2017.
Oklahoma was followed by No. 3 LSU in second place (197.8250) while UCLA claimed third (197.5375) and Denver finished fourth with a 197.000.
Saturday marked OU's seventh straight and ninth overall trip to the team finals. In each of their nine appearances in the finals, the Sooners have finished within the top three.
OU opened the meet on bars and took a slight lead after posting a 49.450 in the first rotation. Sophomore Anastasia Webb started with a 9.8125, followed by matching 9.85s from senior Alex Marks and sophomore Karrie Thomas. Senior Brenna Dowell started a streak of 9.9 scores, earning a 9.9 in the No. 4 spot. Senior Nicole Lehrmann followed with a 9.9125 and Nichols anchored with a 9.9375.
Moving to beam, the Sooners picked up momentum, notching a 49.6125 in the second rotation. Freshman Olivia Trautman led things off with a solid 9.875 in her first routine of the night. Dowell posted a 9.8625 in the No. 2 spot, followed by a 9.9375 for Lehrmann. Sophomore beam specialist Carly Woodard notched a 9.9375 of her own and Webb added a 9.9 in the No. 5 spot. Nichols anchored with a 9.9625 as the Sooners extended their lead at the halfway point.
The momentum carried into the third rotation as Oklahoma turned in a 49.6500 on floor. With an outstanding leadoff performance by Webb for a 9.925, the Sooners rebounded from a fall as junior Jade Degouveia tallied a 9.8875 in the No. 3 spot. Nichols turned in an incredible 9.95, followed by a 9.9375 from Dowell. Trautman anchored with a 9.95, her 15th score of 9.925 or better this season.
With a lead in hand, the Sooners posted their best vault rotation since the first meet of the 2019 season, notching a 49.625 in the final rotation. Lehrmann posted a 9.9 in the leadoff spot, marking the 21st time in her last 24 routines that she scored a 9.9 or better. Webb followed with a 9.85 in the No. 2 spot and Degouveia added a 9.875 in the No. 3 position.
A huge stuck 1.5 from Trautman went for a 9.95 and Nichols tallied a 9.9125 to bring up Dowell in the anchor spot. In her final routine in the Crimson and Cream, Dowell was superb, notching a 9.9875 and receiving four 10.0s from the six judges to close out her OU career.
"I was in awe,” Dowell said. “That was the first vault I had really stuck all season. To do it in the very last night and really clinch that victory and to look at Lou's face and K.J. was already crying and I run to my team and got a big group hug was awesome."
The national title is the culmination of an incredible season in which OU posted a 32-0 record, its second undefeated season in program history. The Sooners also secured an eighth consecutive Big 12 Championship and won an NCAA Regional title for the 10th straight year. On Friday night, Degouveia, Dowell, Lehrmann, Nichols, Thomas, Trautman, Webb and Woodard combined for 17 All-America honors. Dowell was the 2019 national champion on floor and Nichols defended her all-around title while also picking up an individual title on vault.
“Tonight, we picked that Champion song by Carrie Underwood that came on the very end (of the trophy presentation),” Kindler said. “It is unbelievable. It has been coincidences or blessing or whatever you call it. Every single week, all the time. I can't put it into words. That was the cumulation of what our season was and tonight Dave was absolutely lifting us up. I know Jenn just lost her cookies at the end of the meet and so did we, because she said to me 'All I can say is there must be a greater purpose for it'. This must be it. Everyone can agree that it was worth it."