gymnastics-women-nc flag | February 28, 2014

Preview: No. 2 Oklahoma returns to Norman; takes on Illinois Friday

No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Illinois

Oklahoma returns to Norman this weekend, opening a two-week home stretch of competition through early March. After one true home contest in five weeks of action, the Sooners will compete at home in back-to-back weekends for the first time since January. The span will provide a valuable opportunity for recovery time as well as a chance to build up momentum heading into postseason competition in March. OU is set to face Illinois this Friday night.

Oklahoma’s efforts in 2014 have been bolstered by big scores from underclassmen: all of the Sooners’ top scores this season on each event have been from a freshman or sophomore. Sophomore Haley Scaman owns OU’s top marks on vault (9.95) and floor (10.0), while freshman McKenzie Wofford boasts a team-high 9.975 on bars. Freshman Chayse Capps’ 9.975 on beam is the high for OU, and she also owns a 9.95 on vault.

Twenty-seven wins, zero losses: the Sooners are undefeated against the Big Ten conference under head coach K.J. Kindler, racking up 27 victories with no losses since 2007. OU’s lone tie with a Big Ten team came in 2008, when the Sooners and Michigan posted identical marks of 196.075 at the NCAA championships. Oklahoma is 10-0 all-time against Illinois and 1-0 this year against Big Ten teams following a win against Michigan last weekend.

No. 1 LSU vs. Missouri

There is a new No. 1 team in women’s collegiate gymnastics, and it is LSU. The Tigers claimed the top spot with a 197.470 regional qualifying score (RQS) in the first edition of the RQS rankings released Monday by GymInfo.

Until now the national rankings had been determined by a team’s season average, but starting this week and continuing for the rest of the season the rankings will be determined by a team’s RQS.

The RQS is ascertained by taking a team’s top six scores (three of which must be from road/neutral meets), dropping the high score and averaging the remaining five scores.

In LSU’s case, the Tigers’ top six scores include a 197.875 at the Metroplex Challenge, 197.650 at Oklahoma, 197.650 versus Alabama, 197.625 at Florida, 197.225 at Arkansas and a 197.200 versus Centenary. The season-high and school record 197.875 was dropped, and the remaining five scores were averaged to give LSU a 197.470 regional qualifying score.

It is the highest RQS in school history, surpassing the previous best of 197.400 in the final rankings of the 2004 season.

After a four-meet road swing LSU (7-3, 3-2 SEC) returns to the Maravich Center for the first time in nearly a month when the Tigers take on Missouri at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.

No. 3 Florida vs. No. 4 Alabama

Winners of the last three NCAA gymnastics championships – Florida and Alabama – meet in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this Friday. Meet time is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

Friday’s competition is the 40th consecutive meeting between the two programs (dating back to the 2002 Super Six Challenge) that both teams bring a top-10 ranking. Alabama leads UF 22-16-1 in that span, but since 2007, Florida holds a slight 12-11-1 edge.

Florida now has six 10.0 marks in 2014 - Bridget Sloan on floor exercise and balance beam and Hunter twice on floor and vault. Six perfect marks is the most for the Gators in a single season, with the previous high of three coming in 1998, all off Susan Hines’ vault marks, and 1996 with a 10.0 vault by Hines and 10.0 uneven bar routines by Kristen Guise and Amy Myerson. Florida’s six 10.0 marks leads the nation in 2014 and Sloan and Kytra Hunter are the only gymnasts to earn 10.0s in multiple events. 

In their last outing, the Tide was edged 197.20-197.10 by then No. 1 Oklahoma at the Perfect 10 Challenge in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Tide were without their top all-arounder in Oklahoma City, as Sarah DeMeo was held out after experiencing concussion symptoms after an uneven bars fall earlier in the week. Diandra Millinier, the defending NCAA vault champion, won that event with a season-best 9.975.

No. 5 Utah vs. Washington

Utah (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) will host Washington (4-6, 0-5 Pac-12) at 8 p.m. Friday in the Huntsman Center. It is the annual Short People Appreciation meet and anyone 5-foot or shorter will receive a free general admission ticket.

The Utes, who have out-scored the opponent in every meet this season on vault and floor -- and in all but two meets on bars -- are ranked No. 2 in the nation all three events. Tory Wilson and Kailah Delaney are ranked one-two on vault and Georgia Dabritz is No. 1 on floor and No. 2 on bars, where she is unbeaten this season (7-0).

Utah leads the series with Washington 45-0-2 and is 19-0 against the Huskies in Salt Lake City. Although Utah has never lost to Washington, the two teams have tied twice in Seattle. Both times, the Huskies clinched the tie on the final routine of the night.

No. 6 Georgia vs. Arkansas

Georgia will compete in its final SEC meet of the regular season Saturday against No. 13 Arkansas at 4 p.m. This will be the Gym Dogs’ first meet at Stegeman Coliseum since the win against Kentucky on Feb. 1.

Georgia is coming off its season-high road score in a 196.825-196.100 win against Auburn last week. Arkansas, meanwhile, turned in its best mark of the year with a 197.100 in a home win against Kentucky. This will be the seventh top-15 opponent for the Gym Dogs this season. UGA has competed against No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Alabama. The regular season ends with a trip to No. 5 Utah on March 15.

No. 7 Nebraska vs. Oregon State vs. Arizona State

Nebraska will travel to Corvallis, Ore., this weekend to take on a pair of Pac-12 teams on at 9 p.m. Saturday. The Huskers (9-1, 3-1 Big Ten) will face No. 14 Oregon State (7-2, 1-2 Pac-12) and Arizona State (7-3, 3-2 Pac-12) in a tri-meet at Gill Coliseum on the campus of Oregon State.

Nebraska will look to stay perfect on the road this season as they head into Corvallis for a top-25 battle. The Huskers hold a 13-12 narrow all-time edge against the Beavers with the last meeting coming in 2011 when NU took a 196.850-196.10 victory. The Sun Devils own a 30-19 all-time lead against NU with the last meeting between the two teams also coming in 2011 where the Huskers took home a 197.300-192.75 victory against the Sun Devils.

No. 8 Michigan vs. Kent State vs. BYU

After spending the last three weeks on the road, Michigan (10-2, 4-0 Big Ten) competes at home for the first time in nearly a month, hosting No. 23 Kent State (8-1) and BYU (2-8) at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Wolverines took third at the Perfect 10 Challenge, making it the first time in the last 13 regular-season meets that they did not win the meet or take first. In 18 regular-season meets since the start of the 2013 season, Michigan is 27-3 and is averaging 196.882

No. 9 UCLA vs. Arizona

UCLA travels to the desert to face Arizona on at 6 p.m. Saturday.

UCLA senior gymnast Samantha Peszek was named the Pac-12 Specialist of the Week for the second time in three weeks and for the third time in her career.

Peszek won all three events in which she competed in the Bruins' dual meet win against Stanford, capturing first place on beam with a career-high-tying 9.95 and tying for top marks on vault (season-high 9.925) and uneven bars (9.825).

No. 10 Stanford vs. California

Stanford will play host to No. 19 California at 9 p.m. Monday.

Stanford’s gymnasts Kristina Vaculik and Nicolette McNair were named Pac-12 Gymnast and Newcomer of the Week, respectively, as announced by the conference Tuesday.

The duo helped fuel Stanford’s upset victory against No. 4 Utah last Monday and delivered strong showings against No. 9 UCLA on Saturday.

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