NORMAN, Okla. -- The eighth-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team heads down I-35 to take on Texas Woman’s University, George Washington and Centenary at the TWU triangular on Saturday, Jan. 27. The meet is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start inside the Kitty Magee Arena.
The Sooners (2-1) are coming off an impressive performance in their home opener, defeating No. 22 Missouri and Central Michigan. OU (196.125) outscored the Tigers (193.825) and Chippewas (191.025) on the strength of senior Brittney Koncak-Shumann’s performance. Koncak-Schumann took the all-around, uneven bars and beam titles, scoring a career-high 9.95 on beam en route to her second consecutive Big 12 Gymnast of the Week honor.
Several other OU gymnasts had record-breaking days, including sophomore Ashley Jackson who scored a career best 9.875 on the vault, and junior Stephanie LoPiccolo, who finished as the runner-up to Koncak-Schumann on the beam after posting a career-high 9.925.
Texas Woman’s is 1-2 on the year, falling on the road to No. 25 Brigham Young and finishing second in a triangular with Central Michigan and Brown. The Pioneers, led by 29th-year head coach Frank Kudlac, are the reigning Midwest Independent Conference champions and USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Champions.
George Washington (2-1) is in its 22nd year under under head coach Margie Cunningham. The Colonials finished second at the GW/Lindsey Ferris Invitational on Jan. 21, defeating Cornell and William & Mary, but coming in as the runner-up to North Carolina.
The Ladies of Centenary College are 1-4 on the year, finishing second to Southeast Missouri and ahead of Illinois-Chicago on the road in Cape Girardeau, Mo. on Jan. 16 and fourth in a quad meet with SEMO, Illinois State and UIC last Friday.
With last weekend’s wins, Oklahoma rose to No. 8 in the Jan. 22 GymInfo poll. The Sooners are currently the nation’s sixth-ranked team on vault, ninth on beam and 10th on the uneven bars. Individually, Koncak-Schumann is third nationally in the all-around and tied for second on the balance beam.
SETTING THE SCENE
What: OU (2-1) vs.Texas Woman’s (1-2), and George Washington (2-1) and Centenary (1-4)
Where: Denton, Texas at Kitty Magee Arena (1,800)
When: Jan. 27, 2007 at 7 p.m. (CST)
Live Scores: Live scoring will be available at twuathletics.com. Sooner fans can also access scores via the live scoring link on SoonerSports.com.
Tickets: For Sooner fans interested in making the short trip down I-35 for Saturday’s meet, adult tickets are $5.00 and non-TWU students, children, and senior citizens gain admission for just $3.00. For additional details contact the TWU Sports Information Office at (940) 898 -2373.
What 2 Watch 4: The Rivers West Band, an acclaimed Denton quartet that plays “ Texas acoustic rock”, will perform prior to (beginning at 6:00 p.m.) and between rotations of the meet.
This season’s two-time Big 12 Gymnast of the Week, OU’s Brittney Koncak-Schumann, has taken the all-around title the last two times OU has faced TWU.
Koncak-Schumann also took the vault, bars and beam titles at the TWU triangular with Air Force on Jan. 29, 2006.
COMING UP NEXT...
Saturday’s meet begins a string of five straight road competitions for the Sooners. After the date with TWU, Centenary and George Washington, OU goes to Nebraska, faces Cal, Air Force and Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., and visits both Iowa State and Iowa.
Oklahoma’s next home meet will not be until March 3, when the Sooners host TWU at 7 p.m. in the Howard McCasland Field House.
KONCAK-SCHUMANN GOES BACK-TO-BACK
Oklahoma’s Brittney Koncak-Schumann was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Week for the second week in a row on Jan. 23. The honor was the sixth of her career.
The 2006 Big 12 all-around champion won the all-around (39.325), uneven bars (9.875) and balance beam (9.95) titles in the Sooners’ home-opening win over Central Michigan and No. 22 Missouri. Her balance beam score was a career-high. She also finished fourth on vault (9.85).
She is currently ranked No. 3 nationally in the all-around and is second in the country on beam.
Koncak-Schumann won three Big 12 weekly honors in 2006, and she is the first to win back-to-back honors this season. Nebraska’s Emily Parsons and Iowa State’s Janet Anson took home consecutive honors last season.
OU EIGHTH IN LATEST GYMINFO POLL
The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team climbed five spots to No. 8 in latest GymInfo poll. The ranking is the Sooners’ highest since coming in at No. 6 in the March 27, 2006 poll. OU began the 2007 season ranked 10th. The Sooners are second among all Big 12 teams behind No. 7 Nebraska.
Five OU gymnasts recorded career highs against Missouri and Central Michigan on Jan. 19. Senior Brittney Koncak-Schumann scored a near perfect 9.95 on beam, while junior Stephanie LoPiccolo was right behind her with a 9.925.
Sophomore Ashley Jackson topped her previous best with a 9.875 on vault, and a pair of freshmen, Jacqueline Flanery (9.825/FX) and Kristin Smith (9.675/FX) also set new benchmarks in their short OU careers.
SOONER SENIORS EARN BIG 12 HONORS
Oklahoma’s two senior gymnasts, Brittney Koncak-Schumann and Lori Winn, swept the Big 12 Conference’s weekly honors for Jan. 16 after leading OU to a near upset of No. 4 Alabama on Jan. 12.
Koncak-Schumann, from McQueeney, Texas, was named the conference Gymnast of the Week after taking second in the all-around against the Crimson Tide with a score of 39.350, just 0.025 points behind Alabama’s Kassi Price. She also shared the balance beam title (9.85), was third on uneven bars (9.85), sixth on floor exercise (9.85) and tied for seventh on vault (9.80).
Winn, an Oklahoma City native, earned the first conference honor of her career. The Event Specialist of the Week is a new award for this season to recognize those who do not compete in the all-around.
Winn competed on three events for the Sooners at Alabama. She shared the balance beam title (9.85) with Koncak-Schumann while placing fourth on uneven bars (9.825). She also competed on floor exercise (9.75).
Three Oklahoma freshmen saw the first action of their collegiate careers against the fourth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Jacqueline Flanery, from Plattsburg, Mo., recorded a 9.775 on both the vault and floor exercise. Mary Mantle, a Bellvue, Colo. native, scored a 9.8 on the vault, the Sooners’ second-highest score on the apparatus against the Tide. Oklahoma City native Kristin Smith scored a 9.0 on the floor in her debut.
SOONERS DEBUT AT NO. 10
The University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team is ranked No. 10 in the 2007 preseason GymInfo Coaches Poll. The top-10 ranking ties the Sooners’ highest preseason poll position of the last 10 years. OU was also ranked 10th in the 2006 preseason poll.
“OU is honored to be placed amongst the top 10 teams in the country,” Kindler said. “We have strong leadership in our two seniors and will rely heavily on their guidance of a fairly young squad.”
Oklahoma finished the 2006 season ranked 10th nationally, tying for the second-best final poll position in school history.
The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team will be either road-tested or road weary by the end of the 2007 season. Of the Sooners 11 regular season meets, only four take place within the friendly confines of the Howard McCasland Field House.
After starting the season on the road against Alabama, OU will return to Norman to face Missouri and Central Michigan on Jan. 19. Following the home season opener, head coach K.J. Kindler’s squad faces a stretch of five consecutive away meets, including trips to No. 7 Nebraska (Feb. 2), No. 11 Arizona State (Feb. 9), and No. 13 Iowa State (Feb. 16).
OU hits the road one final time to face eighth-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. on March 9.
The 2007 Big 12 Championships will also be away, as the event will be hosted by No. 18 Missouri in Columbia, Mo.
Oklahoma’s seven away meets in 2006 are the most since OU went on the road eight times in 2005. The Sooners also traveled to seven away meets in 2004.
The five straight meets away from Norman (Jan. 27-Feb. 18) marks the second-longest road trip for OU in the last five years. The 2002 Sooner squad opened the season with seven consecutive away events.
KINDLER SIGNS THREE FOR 2008
First-year head coach K.J. Kindler announced her first Oklahoma recruiting class Friday, signing three gymnasts to National Letters of Intent. Taylor Zondervan, Natalie Ratcliff and Melanie Root will join the Sooners for the 2008 season.
“We are energized about the signing of Natalie, Taylor and Melanie,” Kindler said. “All three have extensive experience at the national level and will be key factors to the success of the OU program. Most importantly, they have expressed an excitement about OU and the goals we share for the gymnastics program.”
Zondervan, a Level 10 from Schoolcraft High School in Kalamazoo, Mich., trains at Geddert’s Twistars, the former club of current OU gymnast Ashley Jackson. Zondervan was a member of the 2006 Junior Olympic National Team and finished fifth in the all-around, third on bars, fifth on beam and sixth on floor in the Senior B Division at the 2006 J.O. Nationals. She also captured the bars and floor titles at the 2006 Region 5 Regionals in Senior B and took 10th in the all-around at the 2005 J.O. Nationals. Zondervan plans on majoring in Zoology/Pre-Med at OU.
A native of Overland Park, Kan., Ratcliff is a member of Great American Gymnastics Express where she is coached by Al and Armine Fong and Rodney Gust. The Blue Valley Northwest High School senior and Level 10 gymnast is an eight-time Missouri State Champion and a former member of the U.S. National Team. An honor roll student at Blue Valley, Ratcliff intends to major in Elementary Education.
Root attends Cartersville High School in Cartersville, Ga., and trains at Cartersville Twisters. She is a three-time State Champion (2003, 2004 and 2006) and finished 15th in the all-around and 10th on beam at the 2006 Junior Olympic Nationals. She also qualified for Nationals is 2005 and was an alternate in 2003 and 2004. A Level 10, Root went pre-elite for a year in 2004. She plans to major in Management at OU.