hen Natalie Brown, Stefani Catour, Samantha Craus and AJ Jackson arrived in Norman for their freshman year, they knew they had big shoes to fill. The Sooners were coming off their first ever National Championship in 2014 and losing five seniors who had been instrumental in leading Oklahoma to new heights.
The quartet accepted the challenge placed before them and have helped guide OU to even greater heights, including back-to-back national titles in 2016 and 2017. When they compete for the final time later this season and finish their gymnastics careers, they’ll have left behind a greater legacy than they could have ever imagined.
“This class is very interesting because it’s just amazing how well they fit together,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “They all bring something so different to the table. When you put it all together they are all just amazing as a group. They are amazing together. Natalie is the emotional leader. AJ is so enthusiastic and has so much energy. Sam has such a big heart. Stefani has that calmness and confidence, the quiet confidence that you need from an athlete. When you put them all together, they honestly make the perfect single leader. For all of them to be contributing in that way and to be leading this team forward in 2018… I couldn’t ask for a better group.”
With Senior Night Friday at 6:45 p.m. CT, here’s a glance at Natalie, Sam, Stefani and AJ’s time at OU by the numbers.
And counting…108 is the number of wins the senior class has accumulated since arriving in Norman. Win No. 100 came in the final meet of their junior season – the NCAA Super Six in which they won their second national title.
The 2018 seniors are undefeated at home in their OU careers, posting a 29-0 record at Lloyd Noble Center, including the 2015 Big 12 Championships held in Norman and the 2015 NCAA Norman Regional.
Oklahoma won back-to-back national championships in 2016 and 2017. The seniors were part of both of those championship squads and have also added a third-place finish in 2015 to their impressive NCAA resumes.
Champions in the gym and the classroom, the seniors have combined for 10 academic awards. Natalie, Stefani & AJ have combined for four Academic All-Big 12 Awards, while Sam, Stefani and Natalie have combined for six NACGC/W Scholastic All-American Awards.
Over the last four seasons, 198 has become the new standard for the Sooners. In the last four years, OU has posted 15 scores of 198 or higher. All four seniors were a part of the record-breaking team that put up a program record 198.500 in 2015. This season alone, they have helped OU to a school record five scores of 198 or higher in the regular season.
Natalie, Sam, Stefani and AJ have won three consecutive Big 12 Championships and three consecutive NCAA Regional titles. AJ has also been a three-time Big 12 Individual Champion.
The Sooners tend to sweep the weekly conference awards and the last four years have been no different. The seniors have combined for 16 overall honors, all as event specialists.
The four have combined for eight All-America honors in their careers.
In 2017 the Sooners were crowned the National Champions and finished with a perfect 33-0 record – the first time in program history that a team finished with a perfect record.
The Sooners will compete in a quad meet against No. 12 Arizona State, No. 10 Arkansas and No. 15 Denver for the final home meet of the season Friday at 6:45 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center. The four seniors will be honored in a post meet ceremony immediately following the meet.