Sooners host Centenary, No. 25 Minnesota and No. 9 Nebraska Friday for
Feb. 2, 2012
||Gymnast to Watch - Sara Stone
NORMAN, Okla. -- The fifth-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics team will host "A Red Carpet Affair" Friday at 7 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center as the Sooners take on No. 9 Nebraska, No. 25 Minnesota and Centenary.
Fans are encouraged to wear red in support of the Sooners and for National Wear Red Day as the Sooners flip for a cure in the fight against heart disease. The first 250 fans will receive a free red dress pin and Oklahoma will host a fashion show during the meet sponsored by the University Bookstore.
All fans in attendance will have the chance to purchase an exclusive I `Heart' OU Gymnastics t-shirt designed by the University Bookstore as well as all the outfits modeled during the meet.
Oklahoma (7-1) enters Friday's meet after defeating No. 20 N.C. State, 196.475-194.075, in its home opener on Jan. 27 during OU's Beauty and the Beast competition. The Sooners swept all nine event titles against the Wolfpack on their way to posting their second-best team score of the season.
The Sooners lead the all-time series with both Centenary (20-1) and Minnesota (9-0). OU trails Nebraska all-time, 61-25, but the Sooners won the last meeting of the two programs, 197.250-196.725, during the 2011 NCAA Super Six. OU took third place overall at the Super Six while the Huskers finished in fourth.
ON THE WEB
Friday's meet can be seen via a live web cast with commentary from OU gymnastics All-American, Kasie Tamayo on Oklahoma All-Access, SoonerSports.com's premium site. Live scoring for all meets can also be found on SoonerSports.com.
GYMNAST TO WATCH - SARA STONE
Stone was named Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week for the second straight week on Jan. 31. Stone captured the honor after winning at least a share of three event titles in the Sooners' win over then-ranked No. 20 N.C. State during OU's Beauty and the Beast competition. Against N.C. State, Stone won the vault title outright with a 9.9 on the event, shared the beam title with a 9.825 and the floor title with a 9.875. The senior has won the vault title in three of OU's four meets and has scored a 9.9 or higher in three of her four vaults this season.
OU will see its second top five matchup of the season and second top 10 matchup of the weekend Sunday, Feb. 5 as the Sooners take on No. 2 Arkansas in Fayetteville at 2 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
The fifth-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad defeated No. 20 N.C. State, 196.475-194.075, Friday in OU's fifth-annual Beauty and the Beast competition alongside OU wrestling at the Lloyd Noble Center. OU posted its second-highest team score of the season with the 196.475 in front of the Beauty and the Beast-record crowd of 2,492. OU swept all four team event titles and all five individual event titles including the all-around for the second consecutive week. OU improved to 3-0 all-time against the Wolfpack and 6-1 in home openers under Kindler.
197 AND COUNTING
With the 197.450 at TWU on Jan. 21, OU became the first program in the country to break the 197-mark on the road this season. Just three teams have scored higher than the Sooners' 197.450 (No. 1 Utah, No. 3 Florida and No. 7 UCLA). The 197.450 was the fourth-highest team score in school history and was the second-highest score in the Kindler era. OU's program-best team score of 197.950 came on March 5, 2010 against then-No. 1 Alabama at the Lloyd Noble Center.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Sooners are 43-2 in Norman under sixth-year head coach K.J. Kindler. OU's only two losses at home have come against SEC opponents in Alabama and Arkansas. Top-seeded Alabama knocked off the Sooners en route to the NCAA South Central Regional title in 2008, while OU's loss to Arkansas in the 2009 home opener marked Oklahoma's only regular season home defeat in Kindler's tenure. Among the 74 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over then-ranked No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 4 Florida in 2010.
BIG 12'S BEST
OU has won five of the first 12 Big 12 weekly awards of 2012 and have won all four Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honors. Brie Olson was named Big 12 Event Specialist of the week on Jan. 10, Taylor Spears was Event Specialist of the Week on Jan. 17 and then Gymnast of the Week on Jan. 24 while Sara Stone was named Event Specialist of the Week on Jan. 24 and Jan. 31.
Seniors Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone have provided consistency and stability for the Sooners in 2012 with no better example than the Sooners' past two meets. Combined, Ferguson and Stone won or shared seven of the eight event titles, set three career-highs and scored a 9.9 or higher in six of 12 routines. Ferguson has posted a 9.8 or higher in 11 of her 12 routines this season while Stone has scored a 9.9 or higher in four of her 12.
FIRST TIME'S THE CHARM
Taylor Spears made her first career appearance in the all-around on Jan. 21 at TWU. The sophomore won the all-around title Saturday with a career-high 39.200 and moved up to No. 18 nationally in the all-around and No. 8 on floor with her performance. At TWU, Spears posted a career-high 9.9 on vault to finish in second place on the event, tied her career-high on floor with a 9.875 to finish in third place on the apparatus, scored a 9.8 on bars and a 9.625 on beam. Spears was the first OU gymnast to compete in the all-around this season and just the fourth Sooner gymnast to compete in the all-around in the last three years.
TO BE THE BEST...
You have to beat the best. OU is no stranger to tough schedules and 2012 is no exception. The Sooners have five of the current top 10 teams on its 2012 slate, including No. 2 Arkansas and No. 9 Nebraska on the same weekend. OU will see the Huskers on Friday, Feb. 3 at the Lloyd Noble Center before heading to Fayetteville, Ark., on Sunday, Feb. 5. OU will also see No. 6 Alabama on March 2 at the LNC and No. 7 UCLA the following weekend on March 11 in L.A.
The Sooners lost their first regular season meet since 2009 last week as OU fell to No. 7 Oregon State, 196.525-195.975. OU's last regular-season loss was to Alabama in Tuscaloosa on March 13, 2009. With the loss, OU's nation-leading regular season win streak of 32 ended. Despite the loss, Oklahoma is 70-7 in the regular season under Kindler. 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.
CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA IN 2012
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. Headlining OU's returners 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.
FOLLOW THE SOONERS
The OU gymnastics program maintains its own Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts, which are updated frequently with all of the latest news about the squad. Links to each of these pages as well as a behind-the-scenes blog can be found at www. SoonerSports.com.