National Championship Quest Begins

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
APRIL 18, 2013

April 18, 2013


  Taylor Spears

 No. 2 Oklahoma (26-1) at NCAA Championships
 Semifinals  Friday, April 19 at 8 p.m. CT
 Super Six  Saturday, April 20 at 6 p.m. CT
 Ind. Finals  Sunday, April 21 at 3 p.m. CT
 Location  Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif.
 Webcast  Friday:
 Webcast  Saturday & Sunday:
 Live Results
 Meet Info  Meet Notes (PDF)

The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team will compete in the NCAA Championships as the No. 2 seed in Los Angeles on the campus of UCLA, April 19-21. The Sooners are looking for their first national championship after winning the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA Regional title and going 19-1 during the regular season, totaling the most wins and the best win percentage in the country.

The Sooners will compete in the second semifinal session on Friday starting at 8 p.m. CT, competing against No. 3-seed Alabama, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Michigan, No. 10 Utah and No. 11 Arkansas. In the first session of the day starting at 2 p.m. CT, top-seeded Florida joins No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 LSU, No. 8 Minnesota, No. 9 Stanford and No. 12 Illinois. Friday’s team semifinals also determine the all-around champion and the qualifiers to the Super Six and Individual Event Finals. The top three finishers from each semifinal session will advance to the Super Six on Saturday, Apr. 20 at 6 pm CT. The top four individuals from each session in each event (plus ties) from the semifinal team and all-around competition will then compete in the individual finals on Sunday, Apr. 21 at 3 p.m. CT.

This season marks the 10th-straight year Oklahoma has advanced to the NCAA Championships. The Sooners have 13 appearances overall, having first competed in 1985 before advancing in 1989, 2001 and every season since 2004, including all seven seasons under current head coach K.J. Kindler. In 2010, Oklahoma finished as national runners-up, the program’s highest final finish in OU history. That season also marked the first time a Sooner team qualified for the Super Six since the current NCAA postseason format was adopted in 1993. By leading OU to the final day of competition, Kindler became the first coach in NCAA history to take two different programs to the Super Six, having also done so at Iowa State in 2006.

The following year in 2011, OU placed third overall with a team score of 197.250, tying the program’s highest NCAA postseason team score originally set in 2010. In 2012 the Sooners had the pieces to make yet another challenge for the title, but multiple late-season injuries forced OU to finish seventh overall, missing Saturday’s competition by just two-tenths of a point.

Individually, OU gymnasts have earned 68 All-America honors, (57 based off NCAA Championship competition), including four-time national champion Kelly Garrison, who won the all-around title in 1987 and the all-around, beam and bars titles in 1988.

Oklahoma returns six of the nine gymnasts who competed for the Sooners at last year’s NCAA Championships, accounting for 16 of last year’s 24 routines. Interestingly, the three gymnasts from last season’s lineup who graduated (Candace Cindell, Megan Ferguson, Sara Stone) are all graduate assistants on the team this year and will all be making the trip to Los Angeles.

Returners with Championship experience on this year’s squad include three-time All-American Brie Olson (AA, UB) and two-time All-Americans Erica Brewer (AA, UB) and Madison Mooring (VT, BB). Kayla Nowak, another two-time All-American (UB, BB), will also be with the team but has not competed this season due to back surgery. Other Sooners returning include junior Lara Albright and sophomore Haley Sorensen who competed on floor and vault, respectively, for OU in 2012 and junior Taylor Spears, who competed in the all-around in the semifinals in 2012. Junior Hayden Ward also competed on bars for OU as a freshman in 2011 at the Championships.

Since head coach K.J. Kindler took over the program in 2007, the Sooners have registered their top-five finishes in program history and have matched or improved their seeding in the Championships every single season:

Individual Event Final Finishes Under Kindler
Los Angeles, Calif.
Duluth, Ga.
Cleveland, Ohio
Gainesville, Fla.
Lincoln, Neb.
Athens, Ga.
Salt Lake City, Utah

In addition, Oklahoma's top eight NCAA Championship scores have come in the past six seasons under Kindler:

Top 10 NCAA Championships Scores
*Denotes Super Six

NORMAN, Okla. -- Six different members of the No. 2 Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team earned a total of 11 All-America honors from the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches.

Junior Taylor Spears, the Big 12 Gymnast of the Year and Big 12 all-around champion, was named a first-team All-American in the all-around in addition to earning first-team honors on beam and second-team honors on bars.
An AAI Award finalist, senior Brie Olson was named a first-team All-American on bars, an event on which she won the Big 12 title two weeks ago. The St. Cloud, Minn., native was also named to the second team in the all-around and on beam.

Sophomore Erica Brewer also earned two All-America honors, earning second-team recognition on bars and on beam.

Three first-year Sooners rounded out the honors for OU, with freshman Haley Scaman named first-team All-America on floor while freshman Keeley Kmieciak was named to the second team on bars and sophomore Lauren Alexander earned second team recognition on beam.

As a team, Oklahoma’s 11 total honors were the most of any other team. In addition, no other program more than the Sooners’ four honorees on bars and four on beam.

OU has now earned 68 All-America honors in program history. This is the first season the NACGC has awarded regular season All-Americans. Fifty-seven additional NCAA All-America honors, awarded based off of performance at the NCAA Semifinal, have been previously been awarded to Oklahoma gymnasts.

• Oklahoma is 25-1 in 14 meets this season, giving the Sooners the best win percentage and most wins of any team in the country.
• OU’s 19 wins are the most in a regular season in program history.
• The Sooners defeated numerous ranked teams during the regular season, including No. 4 Georgia (twice), No. 7 LSU, No. 6 UCLA, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 Denver, No. 18 Arizona, No. 21 Boise State and No. 22 Washington (rankings listed are final regular season ranks).
• OU has defeated 13 of the 35 other teams that qualified for an NCAA Regional, including the above mentioned teams and Arizona State, Iowa State, North Carolina and BYU.
• OU won its first 19 contests in a row before falling in its season finale at No. 4 Alabama.
• Under Kindler, Oklahoma is 99-10 (.908) overall against regular season opponents.

Ten different Sooners have claimed at least one individual event title this season, a program-high under Kindler. OU has shared or taken outright 72 total titles this season. Junior Taylor Spears leads the way with 26 titles, second most in the nation, while also leading the country with 10 beam titles and eight all-around titles. Spears, Olson and Brewer have combined to take 13 of 14 all-around crowns on the year. Stanford’s Ashley Morgan took the other on OU’s Senior Day, but Spears finished first in the rematch when Stanford again came to Norman for the NCAA Regional.

Oklahoma’s freshmen have been put into key spots in the lineup on big stages and have risen to the occasion this season.
• Haley Scaman is the Big 12 floor champion, a five-time Big 12 weekly award winner and the top-ranked freshman in the country on floor (No. 3 overall). Scaman has scored a 9.8 or better on 39 of 41 events this season, including a 9.975 on floor vs. UCLA and four 9.95s on the event.
• Keeley Kmieciak has competed in the all-around and is a three-time Big 12 weekly award winner. She has six individual titles this year, including two on bars, three on vault and one on floor. Against UCLA, Kmieciak recorded a 39.650 all-around score, the best score of any freshman in the country.
• Maile’ana Kanewa, the Big 12 vault champion, returned from preseason wrist surgery to compete for the first time this season against UCLA. On her first-career vault, Kanewa scored a 9.925, tying for the event title. She has since won two Big 12 Specialist of the Week awards and three vault titles.



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