No. 5 Oklahoma remains undefeated
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Fifth-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics opened Big 12 competition with a win against No. 10 Nebraska after posting a season-high score of 196.300 Sunday in Lincoln.
Oklahoma (8-0, 1-0 Big 12) remains undefeated this season and collected its fifth win against a ranked opponent with the win. The Sooners won its fifth-straight meet against Nebraska Sunday and extended its nation-leading regular-season win streak to 22.
The Sooners won the team event title on vault, bars and floor, while taking at least a share of all four event individual titles.
OU trailed Nebraska by one-tenth after the first rotation, 49.275-49.175. The Sooners started the meet on bars, scoring a 49.175 with four gymnasts scoring a 9.825 or higher.
“I could not be prouder of the bar team after our first athlete missed,” OU head coach K.J. Kindler said. “Taylor (Spears) and Brie (Olson) got us back on track and they came back and got a season-high and rocked those routines. It was so satisfying. I know they now feel like a tougher, stronger team because of the situation they were in.”
Natasha Kelley led the team on the apparatus from the anchor position with her season-high tying 9.875, winning a share of the bars title with Nebraska’s.
Brie Olson posted a season-high on bars with a 9.85, while Kayla Nowak and Megan Ferguson added scores of 9.85 and 9.825 respectively for OU.
The Sooners took the lead after posting a season-high 49.350 on vault in the second rotation. The team’s previous best vault score was a 49.175 set last week on Jan. 28 at Washington.
“Vault was the best, bar none, that we have had all year long,” Kindler said. “Their reactions were priceless, they were truly elated with their performances and that was exciting to see.”
Three OU gymnasts scored a 9.9 or higher, marking the first meet this season that the Sooners posted more than one 9.9 on an event.
Sara Stone posted a season-high 9.925 on vault in the anchor position to win a share of the event title with Nebraska’s Erin Davis. Kelley posted a 9.9 on the apparatus for the second time this season, the score was her third 9.9 this year. Kelley also scored a 9.9 on beam at TWU on Jan. 23.
Senior Melanie Root also added a 9.9 on vault for the Sooners, the score was a season-high for Root and tied her career-high on the apparatus.
The Sooners led Nebraska 147.700-146.925 heading into the final rotation after scoring a 49.175 on floor. The score was OU’s second-highest team score on the event this season behind a 49.300-showing from OU’s quad meet on Jan. 21.
“Floor was strong,” Kindler said. “I feel like our leaping and jumping is getting better every week.”
Nowak led the Sooners on floor with a score of 9.875 to win a share of the floor title. Nowak has scored a 9.875 three times this year and has scored a 9.85 or higher in all six meets this season. The sophomore has also posted a team-high score for the Sooners in every competition.
Three other gymnasts added scores of 9.825 on floor for the Sooners. Freshman Taylor Spears tied her career-high with a 9.85 on the apparatus while Stone scored a 9.85 from the anchor position and Ferguson posted a 9.825.
The Sooners were forced to count a fall on beam but after a 9.9 from Ferguson, 9.875 from Spears and 9.825 from Kelley, OU finished the final rotation with a 48.600 to seal the victory against Nebraska.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t fully take advantage of the opportunity we had,” Kindler said. “Beam has been rock-solid for us all year. It’s one of the strongest beam teams I’ve ever seen so it was a little disappointing today. We did try to manipulate the lineup today for the first time, so they may have been a little out of rhythm.”
Ferguson won the beam title with her season-high 9.9, her previous best was a 9.85 set against both Arkansas and NC State in the first two weeks of the season.
“After our mistakes, Megan Ferguson and Natasha Kelley really nailed it on beam for us,” Kindler said. “That’s obviously why they are in those positions, because they are so mentally tough.”
Spears tied her career-high with the 9.875 for the third time this year, the freshman has scored a 9.8 or higher in all six competitions.