OU will see a top five matchup as No. 2 hosts reigning national champion and No. 5 Alabama.
Feb. 29, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. --The second-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team faces reigning national champion and fifth-ranked Alabama Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. for OU's Senior Night at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Oklahoma (15-2, 2-0 Big 12) will see its first top five matchup in Norman since its last regular season meeting with Alabama on March 5, 2010. In that meet, the then-ranked No. 2 Sooners upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide while posting their program-best team score of 197.950 in front of the program's record crowd.
OU and Alabama have met twice since that meet, during the NCAA Super Six in both 2010 and 2011. In 2010, OU finished in second place ahead of the Crimson Tide who finished third, while Alabama won the national championship in 2011 as the Sooners finished third.
Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) is currently the only undefeated team in the NCAA and has wins over No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Georgia, No. 8 Arkansas and No. 10 LSU.
The first 1,500 fans at Friday’s meet will receive a free t-shirt courtesy of the OU IT store. Additionally, the OU IT Store will be giving away an Xbox while the first 500 fans will get a free "Just Flip" wristband and the first 250 fans will receive an exclusive fan banner.
Prior to the meet there will be free facepainting, balloons and pre-meet activities for kids while the Sooner gymnasts will hold an autograph session on the upper concourse immediately following the competition.
OU will honor seniors Candace Cindell, Ferguson, Natasha Kelley and Sara Stone in a special ceremony following the meet.
ON THE WEB
Friday’s meet can be seen via live webcast on Oklahoma All-Access, SoonerSports.com’s premium site with commentary from former World Champion and OU All-American, Hollie Vise and former All-American Kasie Tamayo. Live scoring will also be available at SoonerSports.com.
GYMNAST TO WATCH - MEGAN FERGUSON
Ferguson was named Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week for the fourth straight week Tuesday. The senior won all three events she competed with a career-high 9.975 on beam, a season-high-tying 9.925 on bars and a 9.925 on floor. Ferguson is currently ranked No. 1 in the country on beam, No. 2 on floor and No. 3 on bars.
The Sooners head to Los Angeles for their second straight top five matchup against No. 3 UCLA on Sunday, March 11 at 4 p.m. (CT). UCLA is coming off its 198.050 performance on Feb. 24, the Bruins are the only team in the NCAA to break the 198-mark.
LAST TIME OUT
The second-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team defeated No. 21 Michigan and TWU, Friday, at the Lloyd Noble Center as the Sooners posted their season-best home score with a 197.225. OU won all four individual event titles against Michigan and TWU. Sara Stone won the vault title with a 9.95, Megan Ferguson won the bar title with a 9.925, the beam title with 9.975 and floor with a 9.925.
197 AND COUNTING
OU is the only team in the NCAA this season to break the 197-mark five times this season, four of which have come away from Norman. 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 year. 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.
The first Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) rankings were released Monday, Feb. 27. RQS is determined by averaging each team's three highest road scores and three next-best scores (with the highest score eliminated). OU remained at No. 2 in the overall team rankings, just .050 behind No. 1 Florida. In event rankings, OU moved to No. 1 on both beam and floor. Megan Ferguson is the top-ranked gymnast on beam, No. 2 on floor and No. 3 on bars, while Sara Stone is No. 1 on vault. The Sooners have a total of 12 individuals ranked in the top 25 over the four events, including four gymnasts in the top 25 on both beam and floor.
BIG 12’S BEST
The Sooners hold the top spot in the Big 12 rankings in all five team categories and the four individual event categories. The Sooner gymnasts hold the top two individual spots on all four events, while OU holds all top six spots in Big 12 individual beam rankings and the top four floor spots. OU has won 12 Big 12 weekly awards in 2012 and has won all eight 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, Feb. 14, Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, Rebecca Clark was Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 14 and Erica Brewer was Gymnast of the Week on Feb. 21.
Seniors Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone have provided consistency and stability for the Sooners in 2012. Combined, Ferguson and Stone won or shared 21 of the 24 event titles, set or tied nine career-highs and scored a 9.9 or higher in 25 routines. Ferguson has posted a 9.9 or higher in 15 of her last 18 routines while Stone has scored a 9.9 or higher 10 times this year. Ferguson is ranked in the top three nationally on all three events she competes, while Stone leads the country on vault.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Sooners are 45-3 in Norman under sixth-year head coach K.J. Kindler. One of OU's three losses at home was to Alabama. Top-seeded Alabama knocked off the Sooners en route to the NCAA South Central Regional title in 2008. Among the 74 home wins since 2000 are notable victories over then-ranked No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 4 Florida in 2010.
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. 5 Alabama at home this Friday. OU has already seen then-ranked No. 7 Oregon State, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 2 Arkansas and still has Alabama and No. 3 UCLA remaining on the schedule.
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.