Oklahoma claims own regional
Sooners post program-best postseason score to claim win
NORMAN, Okla. – The fifth-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics squad posted its program-best postseason score with a 197.300 en route to winning the 2011 NCAA Norman Regional and securing one of 12 spots at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, April 15-17.
Joining OU in Cleveland from the Norman region is No. 7 Utah. The Utes trailed No. 17 Washington entering the final rotation but pulled ahead after UW was forced to count two falls on beam and Utah posted a 49.275 on bars. Utah finished in second-place to qualify for its 36th-consecutive NCAA Championships.
OU’s regional title was its second-consecutive and fourth-overall, while the Sooners will make their eighth-consecutive NCAA Championships appearance and 11th total trip to nationals.
The Sooners took home three individual event titles at the regional along with their team title. Natasha Kelley won the bars title with her career-high-tying 9.95, Megan Ferguson won the beam title with a 9.9 while Kayla Nowak won a share of the floor title with a 9.9.
OU also swept the South Central Region coaching awards following the meet. OU Head Coach K.J. Kindler was named S.C. Regional Coach of the Year while assistant coaches Lou Ball and Tom Haley were named Co-Assistant Coaches of the Year.
Oklahoma started on floor with a 49.250, its third-highest score on the event this season. OU posted a 9.8 or higher in the final five positions of the lineup, topped with a 9.9 from Nowak.
Nowak’s score was her second-consecutive 9.9 on floor, the sophomore won the Big 12 floor title on March 19, also with a 9.9. Nowak has posted a 9.85 or higher in 11 of OU’s 13 competitions in 2011.
Stone added a 9.875 for the Sooners on floor, her seventh score of 9.875 or higher on the event. Stone has scored below a 9.8 just one time this season.
The Sooners held their lead after their second rotation with a 49.300 on vault. The score tied OU’s second-highest total on vault this season.
All six gymnasts in OU’s vault lineup posted a 9.825 or higher, including a career-high 9.9 from freshman Hope Bruce.
Bruce surpassed her previous career-high (9.8) by a whole tenth with the 9.9 on vault.
Senior Melanie Root added a 9.75 for the Sooners, her third score of 9.875 or higher this season on vault. OU added four additional scores of at least 9.825 from Kelley (9.85), Madison Mooring (9.85), Brie Olson (9.825) and Stone (9.825).
With the lead and a team total of 98.550, OU had a bye before bars in the third rotation. Washington trailed the Sooners in second place with a 98.075, followed by Utah at 97.975 in third place.
OU capitalized on its secure-lead on bars in the fourth rotation, tying its season-high total on the event with a 49.525. The score was just .025 short of the program-record for a team bars score.
The Sooners had four scores of at least 9.9, with Kelley posting a 9.95 in the anchor position. Also adding 9.9s for OU were Ferguson, Nowak and Olson.
Nowak’s 9.9 was a career-high for the sophomore, while Olson’s tied her career-high on the event. Ferguson’s 9.9 was her third 9.9 or higher on bars this season.
OU ended on beam, scoring a 49.275 on the apparatus in the fifth rotation. The Sooners once again posted six scores of at least 9.8, including a 9.9 from Ferguson.
Kelly, Mooring and Natalie Ratcliff also added 9.85s for the Sooners, while Nowak posted a 9.825 and Taylor Spears scored a 9.8.
OU will head to Cleveland for the 2011 NCAA Championships April 15-17. The Sooners will join 11 other teams from around the country to compete for their second-consecutive Super Six appearance.