March 4, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. - The fourth-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad improved to 14-0 Friday, with a quad meet victory over No. 17 Illinois, No. 13 Ohio State and TWU as the Sooners scored a 197.025 at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Oklahoma (14-0, 3-0 Big 12) remains unbeaten this season as OU became one of just three schools in the country to break the 197 marks twice this season. OU scored a 197.225 at Iowa State on Feb. 11 earlier this year.
OU took home all four team event titles for the seventh time this season while an OU gymnast won all five event titles.
Kayla Nowak won the all-around title in just her second all-around competition this season. Nowak scored a 39.275 in the all-around with a 9.875 on vault, 9.825 on bars, 9.825 on beam and 9.85 on floor.
Sara Stone took home the vault title with a 9.95, Megan Ferguson won bars with a 9.95 and floor with a 9.9 while Natasha Kelley claimed the beam title with a 9.9.
The Sooners started on vault with a 49.175 to take the lead after the first rotation. OU's 49.175 tied its third-highest vault score of the season.
Kelley started the meet with a 9.875 on vault for the Sooners, competing in the starting vault position for the first time this season.
"Tonight we tried a new starter with Natasha Kelley on vault and she completely nailed it," OU Head Coach K.J. Kindler said. "That set the tone for the entire meet. We've been playing with what we were going to do there and that was definitely huge for our team."
Stone led the team with an OU season-high 9.95 on vault from the anchor position. Stone has scored a 9.9 or higher in five of her last six vaults.
OU extended its lead after the second rotation with a season-high 49.525 on bars. The bar score was a team-best on any event this season and was just .025 short of the program record for the event (49.550 set on March 14, 2003).
"We had enthusiasm going over to bars and they were clearly on fire," Kindler said. "We were sticking landings, we were hitting routines. There really wasn't much to take. That was the best bar performance they've had all year, no doubt in my mind."
The Sooners posted four scores of 9.9 or higher on bars, as four gymnasts set or tied career-highs on the apparatus.
Ferguson led the team with a career-high 9.95 from the fifth position in the lineup. Ferguson has scored a 9.9 or higher on at least one event in five-straight competitions. The 9.95 on bars was her second 9.9 or higher on the apparatus this season.
Kelley added a career-high tying 9.925 on bars from the anchor position for the Sooners. The score was her third score of at least 9.9 on the event this season.
In her first appearance in the bar lineup this season, senior Melanie Root scored a career-high 9.9 on the event. Brie Olson also added a 9.9 for the Sooners. The score was Olson's season-high and tied her career-high.
"We had some injuries and people had to step in," Kindler said. "We put in Melanie Root who learned a new bar routine four weeks ago and had the potential to do what she did tonight. She absolutely took the moment and made it hers. That routine absolutely sparked the squad and from there everything went up."
The Sooners ended the third rotation with a 49.225 on beam, bringing their team score to 147.950. OU entered the final rotation in first place in front of Ohio State by more than a point.
Kelley posted a team-high 9.9 on beam from the anchor position, her third beam score of 9.9 or higher this season.
The Sooners added three scores of 9.825 or higher on beam from Ferguson (9.875), freshman Taylor Spears (9.85) and Nowak (9.825).
OU clinched the quad meet victory and the score of 197.025 with a 49.100-showing on floor. Ferguson scored a season-high 9.9 from the anchor position to lead the Sooners and claim the floor title.
Stone finished in second place with a 9.875 on floor while Nowak closed the lineup with a 9.85.
The Sooners close their regular season next Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m., as OU hosts Michigan State at the Lloyd Noble Center. OU will recognize their two seniors Natalie Ratcliff and Melanie Root who are competing at home for the final time.