Oklahoma Stuns No. 4 Florida In Opener
Jan. 9, 2010
Courtesy of Oklahoma Athletics
NORMAN, Okla. - The No. 9 Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad led wire-to-wire in a 196.250-195.275 upset over fourth-ranked Florida in the Sooners' season opener on Friday in front of 1,325 fans at Lloyd Noble Center.
The victory over the Gators marked the highest-ranked opponent that OU has toppled under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler.
The Sooners improved to 23-2 in home meets under Kindler behind strong performances from veterans and newcomers alike, as Oklahoma picked up event titles on bars, beam and floor. OU also claimed individual event titles on each of those events as well, as Jackie Flanery (bars and floor), Hollie Vise (bars and beam) and Natasha Kelley (bars) claimed individual honors.
"This team (OU) came out with a whole other confidence that I've never seen before," said Kindler. "They didn't waiver when the door was opening, they didn't hesitate and they jumped in feet first. I was really impressed with that more than anything. They had a lot of confidence tonight."
OU opened the meet with a 48.950 on vault, paced by Mary Mantle's 9.85 from the anchor position. Mantle placed third in the individual standings on the apparatus, behind a pair of 9.875s from UF's Ashanee Dickerson and Maranda Smith. Flanery posted a 9.8 from the first spot, while freshman Bethany Neubauer matched Flanery's score in her first collegiate routine.
Oklahoma took the early lead as Florida was forced to count a fall on bars (48.175).
The Sooners increased their lead to 98.125-97.425 through two rotations after a stellar bars set that resulted in the team event title. Flanery, Kelley and Vise all scored 9.85s to sweep the individual event honors for OU. Flanery's bar set marked a career best, while Kelley competed despite suffering a complete ACL tear less than two months ago. Reigning Big 12 bars co-champion Megan Ferguson tallied a 9.825, while Brie Olson scored a 9.8 in her collegiate debut.
Vise picked up her second individual victory of the night on beam (9.9), leading Oklahoma to its second event win of the evening. OU outscored the Gators 49.025-48.875 on the apparatus, as Ferguson (9.875) and Kelley (9.8) both posted solid routines.
The Sooners sealed the meet victory with an event-winning floor score of 49.100 - their third straight score of 49.000-plus on the night. Flanery picked up her second event title of the night (9.875), freshman Kayla Nowak (9.85) shared second in her debut, while Vise scored a 9.825 in her first collegiate routine on the apparatus.
"We hit 23-of-24 routines which is phenomenal for your first competition," said Kindler. "Now, there are always things we can do to improve, but I thought overall it was an excellent first meet. The freshmen and Natasha were phenomenal. They hit eight routines, out of eight, and were some of our highest scores. They definitely brought a level of confidence to our team.
Oklahoma improved to 42-6 in the regular season under Kindler.
"I thought our fan support was incredible," added Kindler. "These fans, our marketing department and everyone who got these fans in the door are to be rewarded. We appreciate so much the local support. We hope this is just a taste of what they can see the rest of the season. We have a great schedule, so we hope they will be coming back."
Oklahoma faces its second straight SEC opponent to begin the 2010 season when the Sooners travel to Auburn on Jan. 15.