NORMAN, Okla. - The No. 2 University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad (12-0, 4-0 Big 12) clinched its first win over a No. 1 opponent in program history with a 197.950-197.275 victory over top-ranked Alabama on Friday at Lloyd Noble Center.
It was the highest score posted by a Big 12 squad since Nebraska and Iowa State ended a March 14, 2004, dual deadlocked at 198.000 apiece.
The Sooners posted a program-best team tally in their win over the Crimson Tide, bringing the school record crowd of 2,529 fans to its feet on multiple occasions as the back-to-back Big 12 Champions posted the highest score in the NCAA this season. OU eclipsed its previous program best (197.725) by 0.225 in tonight's win, as Oklahoma improved to 53-6 in the regular season under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.
"If you're going to do it (set a school record), tonight was the night," said Kindler. "I can't imagine a better night to do it than against the No. 1 team in the country. Alabama is solid. They are impressive. I believe that we rose to the level of their gymnastics, we rose to the occasion and captured the moment tonight.
"I feel like we literally moved a mountain tonight. Alabama's program has tradition, it has charisma and it has pride associated with it. We physically, mentally and confidence-wise moved that mountain tonight. That is an incredible accomplishment for our program."
OU scored at least a 49.375 on all four events, picking up event wins on vault (49.500), beam (49.450) and floor (49.625).
The Sooners also clinched at least a share of all four individual event titles, as Mary Mantle (vault - 9.925), Hollie Vise (bars - 9.925, beam - 9.95) and Jackie Flanery (floor - 9.975) all brought home the hardware.
"Our first three have been rough on floor in the past few weeks," said Kindler. "Going into floor, we needed those three to build up to the end of the lineup and they did just that. Sara (Stone) started off phenomenal for us, Kayla (Nowak) did a great routine and it was followed by a strong routine from Megan (Ferguson). That was key."
Oklahoma burst out of the gates to a season-high 49.500 on vault to secure the early lead. All six Sooners in the lineup scored at least a 9.875, capped off by Mantle's career-high 9.925 from the fifth position in the event win. Natasha Kelley, Brie Olson and Sara Stone all scored 9.9s, while Flanery and Natalie Ratcliff posted a pair of 9.875s. Olson notched a career high while Kelley tied her previous best on the apparatus.
OU led the Crimson Tide 49.500-49.425 after the first rotation. Alabama was led on bars by Kassi Price's 9.925 from the anchor position.
The Sooners remained atop the leaderboard at the halfway mark by the slimmest possible margin at 98.875-98.850. Oklahoma scored a 49.375 on bars, paced by Vise's career-high-tying 9.925 from the anchor position. Flanery and Kayla Nowak both posted career bests with a pair of 9.875s, while Olson and Kelley rounded out the team tally with a pair of 9.825s.
Entering the meet tied with the Tide as the top squad in the NCAA on beam, the Sooners posted a 49.450 on the apparatus to take a 148.325-148.200 lead into the final apparatus. Kristin Smith (9.9), Vise (9.95) and Ferguson (9.925) capped off OU's stellar rotation with three straight routines of 9.9 or higher to close the event. Oklahoma made a switch at the top of the lineup for the first time this season and it paid dividends. Nowak led off with a career-high-tying 9.85, Ratcliff scored a 9.7 and Kelley added a 9.825 from the third position to give the Sooners their needed momentum.
Capping the historic win on floor, Stone (9.825) and Nowak (9.875) opened the rotation with a pair of strong routines, leaving the final margin and possible school record as the only thing in doubt after a fall from Alabama's fifth gymnast on beam. OU closed with three straight 9.925s from Ferguson (career high), Vise (career high) and Smith before Flanery's event-winning 9.975 that sealed Oklahoma's third straight victory over an SEC opponent.
Oklahoma's event-winning floor tally was its highest total on any apparatus under Kindler.
The Sooners are now a perfect 4-0 against top-10 opponents this season, improving to 27-2 in Norman under Kindler.
Oklahoma returns to the Lloyd Noble on March 12, against Washington. The Sooners will recognize their five seniors Jackie Flanery, Julie Kramer, Mary Mantle, Kristin Smith and Hollie Vise, who are competing at home for the final time.