OU held its annual preseason intrasquad Friday in front of judges and fans.
Dec. 12, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. – The fourth-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics squad held its annual preseason intrasquad Friday at the Sam Viersen Center.
The Sooners competed in a live-meet setting with two judges per event in front of a large crowd of OU fans.
The intrasquad was OU’s first opportunity to compete without junior All-American Natasha Kelley who recently suffered a season-ending injury during practice.
“Losing Natasha athletically this season is a very emotional experience for all of us involved with the Oklahoma program,” OU head coach K.J. Kindler said. “I know she would be disappointed if we didn’t do everything we possibly could to push forward.”
Kindler was pleased with the team’s overall performance Friday as the Sooners showcased 35 new routines for 2012.
“I am strongly encouraged by our depth,” Kindler said. “On beam and floor we had more athletes prepared to compete, but had to draw the line somewhere. We hit 23 of our 24 lineup routines. We had a lot of success in our seventh, eighth and ninth positions as well. Looking at it now, it will be difficult to decide which athletes will represent OU week in and week out.”
On vault, senior All-American Sara Stone led the team with a 9.875, followed by 9.8s from both the 2011 NCAA Vault Runner-Up, Madison Mooring, and sophomore Taylor Spears.
“An area we focused on in the preseason was vault,” Kindler said. “We lost four vaulters from last year’s team. Taylor Spears, Kayla Nowak, Rebecca Clark and Erica Brewer are stepping up for us there.”
Spears and senior All-American Megan Ferguson posted OU’s high scores on bars Friday, both with 9.85s.
“Of all the events tonight, I thought they competed most conservatively on Bars. The pressure certainly puts you in a “make it” frame of mind and I look forward to the athletes becoming more relaxed and confident as we move toward our season opener in Kentucky.”
Junior All-American Kayla Nowak scored the meet’s lone 9.9, in the first spot of the beam lineup. Ferguson held the event’s second-highest score with a 9.85, while Mooring posted a 9.8.
“Balance beam was spot on,” Kindler said. “They competed aggressively.”
OU ended on floor by previewing eight new routines. Stone led the team on the event with a score of 9.8.
“I am so excited about floor this season,” Kindler said. “The tumbling is upgraded and the routines are all very different. There is a huge range of styles, and the presentations were some of the best I have seen this early in a season. I always look to see dynamic energy, yet comfort in their performances.”
Friday was also the first chance for OU fans to see the Sooners’ five newcomers (Lara Albright, Erica Brewer, Rebecca Clark, Lauren Smith and Haley Sorensen) in action.
“Our freshmen are very fun to watch,” Kindler said. “Erica and Becca will contribute a lot this season and they are oddly opposites. Erica is powerful and aggressive. Becca is graceful and exact in all her movements. We expect to depend on both these athletes heavily throughout the season.”
OU opens the 2012 season on Jan. 7 in Lexington, Ky., for “Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic” alongside No. 23 Kentucky, Bowling Green and Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
The Sooners will share the floor with the OU wrestlers for the fifth annual Beauty and the Beast competition in OU’s home opener Jan. 27 at 7 p.m., at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Season tickets are available now by calling the University of Oklahoma Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-GoOU, or online at SoonerSports.com.