Sooners open 2012 season Saturday against No. 23 Kentucky, Bowling Green and Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Jan. 5, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- The fourth-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics team opens the 2012 season Saturday at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., for "Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic" against No. 23 Kentucky, Bowling Green and Wisconsin-Oshkosh beginning at 5 p.m. CT.
The Sooners will see their first of 10 ranked opponents this season in No. 23 Kentucky. The Wildcats are led by first-year head coach Tim Garrison who joined UK last April. Kentucky finished the 2011 season ranked No. 25 nationally after finishing fifth at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional with a score of 195.175.
Bowling Green returns 10 gymnasts from its 2011 squad that finished 1-12. Headlining the Falcons' returners is Dawn Christman who qualified for the 2011 NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional on floor. OU is 1-0 against Bowling Green. The last meeting between the schools was in 2001, OU won 195.075-194.825.
The Sooners will compete against Wisconsin-Oshkosh for the first time in program history Saturday. The Titans return two National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championship qualifiers for 2012, Jill Lindberg and Abby Zubella.
ON THE WEB
Fans can follow live scoring for Saturday's quad meet at UKathletics.com. A live webcast of the meet is also available at UKathletics.com for All-Access account holders.
CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA
OU starts the 2012 season ranked No. 4 in the GymInfo preseason coaches poll, behind No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Florida. The Sooners received two first place votes in the poll and tied OU's program-best preseason ranking.
The Sooners add five newcomers for 2012 and return an impressive 18 of 24 routines from the 2011 lineup, including nine All-American performances.
Leading the way for the Sooners are five-time All-American Megan Ferguson, two-time All-American Kayla Nowak and All-Americans Brie Olson and Sara Stone. Ferguson, Nowak Olson and Stone provide veteran leadership and experience that will be vital for the young Sooners.
OU will be tested in 2012 with the loss of All-American Natasha Kelley and a challenging schedule. Kelley, who consistently scored in the 9.9s on vault, bars and beam, suffered a season-ending injury during preseason practice. The loss of Kelley's talent and experience will challenge OU's depth throughout the 2012 schedule, which includes 10 teams ranked in the preseason top 25 and five top 10 teams.
GYMNAST TO WATCH
Ferguson headlines OU's returning gymnasts from 2011. The senior is a five-time All-American and was named All-Big 12 on bars, beam and floor in 2011. Ferguson is the reigning Big 12 Champion on beam along with teammate Natasha Kelley. Ferguson will likely serve as the anchor for OU on both bars and beam in Saturday's season opener.
Oklahoma is 5-2 in season openers under head coach K.J. Kindler. OU's only two losses in season openers were on the road against Alabama in 2007 and Florida in 2009. The Sooners are 35-23 all-time in season openers. OU is 2-0 all-time against Kentucky and 1-0 against Bowling Green. OU last defeated Kentucky in 2007, 195.925-194.025, and Bowling Green in 2001, 195.075-194.825. Saturday will be the first meeting between the Sooners and Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
OU hits the road for the second consecutive week to face No. 7 Oregon State for a top 10 matchup in Corvallis, Ore., at 9 p.m. CT. OU leads the all-time series with Oregon State, 8-5, and won the last meeting between the two teams, 195.300-194.650, in 2011 in Norman.
LAST TIME OUT
The Sooners recorded back-to-back top three finishes after OU made its second straight NCAA Super Six appearance at the 2011 NCAA Championships and finished in third place with a score of 197.250. OU landed behind national champion Alabama and UCLA, while tying its second-highest postseason score in school history. The Sooners hit 48 of 48 routines at NCAA Championships, the only team out of the 12 participants to do so.
REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
OU clinched its third perfect regular season in four years (and second straight) on March 11, 2011, with its 196.875-194.800 win over Michigan State in Norman. The Sooners went 14-0 in 2010 and finished 2011 at 15-0, bringing its current nation-leading regular-season win streak to 29 victories. OU's last regular-season loss was to Alabama in Tuscaloosa on March 13, 2009. Oklahoma is 67-6 in the regular season under Kindler.