OU looks to improve to 2-0 in conference action with a road trip to No. 16 Missouri.
Feb. 15, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- The third-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad heads to Columbia, Mo., to take on No. 16 Missouri in OU's second straight Big 12 matchup, Friday, Feb. 17 at 6 :30 p.m., at the Hearnes Center.
Oklahoma (12-2, 2-0 Big 12) is coming off its first-place finish at the Perfect 10 Challenge. The Sooners defeated Iowa State and SEMO in the meet with a team score of 197.200. The 197.200 was OU's third score of 197-plus this season, all coming away from the Lloyd Noble Center.
OU swept all four team titles and all five individual titles, including the all-around. Taylor Spears won the all-around after posting a career-high 39.400 in the competition in just her fourth career all-around appearance.
Missouri (6-2, 1-0 Big 12) finished third behind No. 7 UCLA and No. 15 Boise State on Feb. 10. Mizzou finished ahead of No. 19 Illinois, while senior Mary Burke took the all-around title with a score of 39.375.
OU leads the all-time series with Mizzou, 52-11. The Sooners and Tigers last met during the 2011 NCAA Norman Regional. OU finished first with a 197.350, while Mizou finished sixth with a 194.175.
ON THE WEB
A live webcast of Friday's meet can be found at MizzouNetwork.com, while live scoring can be found at MUTigers.com.
GYMNAST TO WATCH - TAYLOR SPEARS
Sophomore Taylor Spears won her third all-around titles in four chances Friday at the Perfect 10 Challenge. Spears posted a career-high 39.400 to win the all-around title which earned her her second Big 12 Gymnast of the Week honor this season.
The Sooners return home for a tri-meet with No. 21 Michigan and TWU on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center.
LAST TIME OUT
Oklahoma posted a team score of 197.200 to easily top the Cyclones (195.175) and Redhawks (189.600) at the Perfect 10 Challenge in Oklahoma City. The 197.200 was OU’s third score this season to break the 197-mark, all coming away from the Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners have defeated three straight opponents since falling to Nebraska at home on Feb. 3, including an upset at then-No. 2 Arkansas.
RQS ON THE HORIZON
Starting Feb. 27, NCAA rankings for women's gymnastics will be based on the teams' Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) instead of Total Season Average. RQSs are calculated by using each team's six best scores, three of which must be on the road. Each team's high-score is thrown out and the remaining five scores are averaged. Currently, OU holds the highest RQS out of the 80-plus teams in the NCAA with a score of 196.710.
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. OU has broken the 197-mark twice since Jan. 21, once at No. 2 Arkansas and again at the Perfect 10 Challenge. The Sooners posted their second score of 197-plus also on the road at No. 2 Arkansas with a 197.425, followed by a 197.200 the following week in OKC. The 197.450 at TWU 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.
The Sooners boast the highest road average of any team in the top 25 with a 196.785 average. OU is one of just two teams in the NCAA to post above a 197 team score on the road and has done so three times. OU is 7-1 on the road, with its only loss coming to then-ranked No. 7 Oregon State. The Sooners upset No. 2 Arkansas in Fayetteville on Feb. 5 with their second best score of the season (197.425).
The Sooners' upset over No. 2 Arkansas came just 48-hours after OU's first regular season home loss since 2009. The Sooners fell to No. 9 Nebraska at the Lloyd Noble Center on Friday, Feb. 3 after counting a fall on floor in the final rotation. Two days later, OU upset No. 2 Arkansas on the road with its second-best score of the season. OU's season-high score came one week after the Sooners regular-season win streak was snapped at No. 7 Oregon State on Jan. 13. OU posted a 197.450 at TWU to finish first at the Pioneers' quad meet.
Seniors Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone have provided consistency and stability for the Sooners in 2012 with no better example than the Sooners' last four meets. Combined, Ferguson and Stone won or shared 14 of the 16 event titles, set five career-highs and scored a 9.9 or higher in 17 of 27 routines. Ferguson has posted a 9.9 or higher in 10 of her last 15 routines while Stone has scored a 9.9 or higher seven times this year.
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 reigning national champion and current No. 6 Alabama at home on March 2. OU has already seen then-ranked No. 7 Oregon State, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 2 Arkansas and still has Alabama and No. 7 UCLA remaining on the schedule.
The Sooner gymnasts won all three Big 12 weekly awards for Feb. 14. Taylor Spears was named Gymnast of the Week, Megan Ferguson was Event Specialist of the Week while Rebecca Clark was Newcomer of the Week. It was the first time since 2008 that OU swept all three awards. Clark broke Rachel Updike's (Missouri) streak of five straight Newcomer of the Week awards. The awards were Spears' second Gymnast of the Week honor this season and Ferguson's second-straight Event Specialist honor.
BIG 12’S BEST
OU has won nine of the first 15 Big 12 weekly awards of 2012 and have won all six Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honors, a conference record. 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, Gymnast of the Week on Jan. 24 and Feb. 14, Sara Stone was named Event Specialist of the Week on Jan. 24 and Jan. 31, Megan Ferguson was named Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week for Feb. 7 and Feb. 14 and Rebecca Clark was Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 14.
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.