Spears Crowned National Champion on Beam

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
APRIL 20, 2014
National Champions
Vault Katherine Grable (ARK)
Rheagan Courville (LSU)
Bars Bridget Sloan (UF) 9.9375
Beam Taylor Spears (OU) 9.925
Floor Katherine Grable (ARK) 9.9625
OU Competitors
Vault Haley Scaman (3rd) 9.9667
  Maile'ana Kanewa (4th) 9.9417
Bars Taylor Spears (10th) 9.825
Beam Taylor Spears (1st) 9.925
  Chayse Capps (8th) 9.860
Floor Maile'ana Kanewa (2nd) 9.95
  Haley Scaman (2nd)  9.95
  Lara Albright (6th) 9.912

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Sooner Magic wasn't quite finished in the Magic City.

Senior gymnast Taylor Spears was named the 2014 National Champion on balance beam on Sunday afternoon, Oklahoma's first women's gymnastics individual champion since 1988. Spears nailed her beam routine--the very last routine of the day--to cap an incredible weekend for the OU Sooners and earn a national title.

Joining Spears on the podium were national runners-up on floor exercise Haley Scaman and Maile'ana Kanewa. Scaman and Kanewa's score led the meet until the final routine, when it was edged by Katherine Grable of Arkansas. The duo tied with Joanna Sampson of Michigan for second. 

Scaman and Kanewa also made the podium on vault, with Scaman finishing third and Kanewa fourth. Lara Albright finished sixth on floor, and Chayse Capps picked up an eighth-place finish on beam. Spears also earned a top-10 finish on bars.

The day's competition began on vault and bars, where OU logged three competitors between the two events. 

Scaman led the way between the two events, nailing her beautiful Yurchenko full vault with incredible height and distance for a 9.667. The sophomore finished third overall, just behind co-national champions Grable and Rheagan Courville of LSU (9.975). 

Kanewa was close behind, hitting one of her best vaults of the season for a 9.9417 to finish fourth overall. Overall, both vaults were an incredible feather in the cap of what has been a total resurgence of OU's vaulting corps in 2014. 

Spears began her afternoon on bars, hitting a beautiful and precise routine throughout. A step on her landing landed her at a 9.825, but Spears secured a top-10 finish in her first career event finals appearance for the Sooners. 

Kanewa hit one of her finest floor performances of the season, nailing her opening piked full-in to earn a 9.95. Kanewa led all flight one competitors and quickly tied with teammate Scaman when the second flight began.

Scaman followed as the first competitor of the second flight on floor and was her exquisite self. The sophomore posted a 9.95 to tie Kanewa for the competition lead. It was the final routine for Scaman in what has been a truly extraordinary season that included an OU record three 10.0s in a single year. 

Albright, a former walk-on turned first-team All-American, wrapped up an extraordinary senior season with a stellar routine on floor. Albright earned a 9.9125, marking the 13th routine this season in which she has earned a 9.9 or better. 

Capps was first up on beam in the second group of competitors, posting a strong 9.860 routine to shine in her first-ever event final appearance. Capps, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, was the only true freshman to finish the regular season ranked in the top 10 nationally on beam. 

In the final routine of the afternoon, however, Spears became the star of the show. Knowing she had to beat a 9.9 in what had become a tightly-scored beam rotation, Spears was precise and beautiful in her challenging routine, earning a 9.925 to the cheers of her teammates and a national title. 

Event finals cap what has become the greatest season in Oklahoma women's gymnastics history, highlighted by the Sooners' very first national championship. OU earned an individual national championship, nine All-America awards, a Big 12 title and an NCAA Regional title, cementing its status as a truly unstoppable team in 2014.



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