OU hosts Missouri and Iowa State for the 2012 Big 12 Championship Saturday in Norman.
March 22, 2012
||Gymnast to Watch - Megan Ferguson
NORMAN, Okla. --The second-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics team eyes its fifth Big 12 title as the Sooners open the postseason playing host to the 2012 Big 12 Championship, Saturday, March 24 at 4 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center against No. 19 Missouri and No. 25 Iowa State.
The Sooners are ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 in all five team categories while Megan Ferguson is No. 1 on bars, beam and floor, and Sara Stone is No. 1 on vault.
OU earned a league-best nine spots on the 2012 All-Big 12 Team. Ferguson earned the honor on bars, beam and floor, Brie Olson was selected for both vault and bars, Taylor Spears made the team on beam and Sara Stone was chosen for vault, beam and floor.
OU hopes to avenge its loss to Nebraska in the 2011 Big 12 Championship. The Sooners entered last year's conference championship as the favorite but after two falls on bars in the third rotation, OU finished in second place just .275 points behind the Huskers.
Missouri upset No. 9 Arkansas, 196.100-195.450, on Mizzou's Senior Night on Friday, March 16. The Tigers look to win their first ever Big 12 Championship. The last four Big 12 all-around champions came from Mizzou.
Iowa State competes for its first conference championship since 2006 when the Cyclones won the Big 12 title. ISU has won two Big 12 Championships (2000 and 2006). Both championships were under head coach K.J. Kindler, the current OU head coach.
ON THE WEB
Fans can follow the action live via live audio and live scoring from SoonerSports.com. The championship will be aired via tape delay on Fox Sports Network.
GYMNAST TO WATCH - MEGAN FERGUSON
Ferguson was named one of six finalists for the 2012 AAI Award announced Wednesday and was selected to the All-Big 12 first team on all three events she competes (bars, beam and floor). Ferguson is currently ranked No. 1 in the country on floor, No. 2 on beam and No. 3 on bars.
The Sooners will await their NCAA Regional seeding and location, announced Monday, March 26 at 2 p.m., CT on the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Selection Show on NCAA.com. OU will likely earn on of the six No. 1 seeds and will compete at one of the six following regional sites on Saturday, April 7: Auburn, Ala., Champaign, Ill., Fayetteville, Ark., Salt Lake City, Utah, Seattle, Wash., or Raleigh, N.C.. The top two teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championships on April 20-22, in Duluth, Ga.
LAST TIME OUT
The second-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics team closed its regular season with a 196.825-196.700 win over No. 13 Ohio State Saturday, March 17 at St. John Arena in Columbus. OU won the team titles on both bars and beam against Ohio State and won individual titles on vault and bars. Sara Stone won the vault title with a 9.9 while Ferguson and Brie Olson shared the bar title with scores of 9.875.
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 two of the top three individual spots on all four events. OU earned a league-leading nine spots on the 2012 All-Big 12 Team. Ferguson and Stone earned all-conference honors on all three events they compete while Olson was named All-Big 12 on vault and bars while Spears earned the honor on beam.
The Sooners swept all 11 Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week honors of 2012, the first team to ever win all of one award in conference history. Megan Ferguson won the award five times, Sara Stone was Specialist of the Week three times, Brie Olson earned the award two times while Taylor Spears won the award once. OU won six additional weekly awards, four gymnast of the week honors (Brewer, Nowak and Spears) and two newcomer of the week honors (Brewer and Clark).
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). This week, OU remained at No. 2 in the overall team rankings, just .085 behind No. 1 Florida. In event rankings, OU is ranked No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on beam, No. 4 on vault and No. 5 on bars. Megan Ferguson is ranked No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on beam and No. 3 on bars nationally.
Seniors Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone have provided consistency and stability for the Sooners in 2012. Combined, Ferguson and Stone won or shared 25 of the 36 event titles, set or tied 11 career-highs and scored a 9.9 or higher in 34 routines. Ferguson has posted a 9.9 or higher in 20 of her last 27 routines while Stone has scored a 9.9 or higher 14 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 46-3 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.
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.