ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Facing a trio of top-15 squads, the No. 1 Oklahoma gymnastics team was zeroed in on the challenge at hand, grabbing a first-place finish at the GymQuarters Mardi Gras Invitational. The Sooners defeated No. 2 LSU (197.700), No. 10 Georgia (196.975) and No. 15 Missouri (196.350) in the meet, held inside St. Charles Family Arena.
The Sooners posted the top total on all four events with big marks of 49.675 (floor), 49.450 (vault), 49.600 (bars) and 49.625 (beam). Individually, OU secured at least a share of every event title.
"The team was simply clicking tonight," OU head coach K.J. Kindler said. "I loved starting on floor. It set the pace for the evening, allowed us to release energy and get our fans on their feet."
Freshman Maggie Nichols continued to impress, besting her own program record with a huge 39.925 in the all-around, the best in the nation this season. She recorded a trio of 9.975s on floor, vault and bars before concluding with a perfect 10.0 on beam. According to records from RoadtoNationals.com dating back to 1998, Nichols’ all-around score is the best by a freshman.
Junior AJ Jackson and sophomore Brenna Dowell, two of OU's Missouri natives, also had great meets. Dowell tied for first on vault with Nichols with a career-high 9.975, while Nichols and Jackson shared the floor honor with LSU's Ashleigh Gnat.
"There were zero distractions tonight," Kindler explained. "Each event seemed to build and the team was so relaxed. I felt such a strong confidence from them, the feeling you get when something magical is about to happen."
Starting the meet on floor, the Sooners held nothing back in the first rotation as they scored a huge 49.675. That matched their season best set last weekend and ties the third-best total on the event in program history. All six competitors scored at least a 9.85 to help OU grab the lead after the first event. Georgia sat in second after scoring a 49.425 on beam, LSU held third with a 49.375 on vault and Missouri recorded a 49.100 on bars.
Jackson and Nichols paced the Sooners with back-to-back 9.975s, while Capps contributed a 9.95 in the anchor spot. It was the second straight week that Jackson has posted the score, which matches her career best, while the total matched a season best for Capps.
In the No. 3 spot, Dowell contributed a 9.9, while junior Natalie Brown scored a 9.875 in the second slot. Senior Charity Jones led off with a solid 9.85 to set the tone for the rotation.
The Sooners maintained their lead at the halfway point after scoring a 49.450 on vault, matching their second-highest score on the event in 2017. Dowell set her career high with a 9.975, while Nichols anchored the rotation with the same mark. Jackson tallied a 9.875 in the No. 5 position, while Marks recorded a 9.825 as the second vaulter. Both Jones and Capps scored 9.8s. In the rotation, Georgia posted a 49.450 (floor), LSU a 49.300 (bars) and Missouri a 49.100 (beam).
OU carried its momentum with it to bars as it rolled to a season-high 49.600. LSU moved into second place after scoring a 49.575 on beam, while Georgia tallied a 49.000 on vault and Missouri a 48.950 on floor.
Yet again, all six Sooners scored at least a 9.85 in the rotation, led by a 9.975 from Nichols as the anchor. Senior McKenzie Wofford nailed her routine for a season-best 9.95, while junior Stefani Catour also set a season high with a 9.925. Capps led off with a solid 9.9, while sophomores Dowell and Nicole Lehrmann contributed matching marks of 9.85.
The Sooners closed the meet on beam with a 49.625, the fourth-highest ever in OU history. LSU concluded with 49.450 on floor, while Georgia scored a 49.100 on beam and Missouri a 49.200 on vault. Jones was strong yet again in the leadoff position, opening with a season-high-matching 9.875 before Lehrmann scored the same mark, also a season best.
In the No. 3 spot, Catour stuck her dismount to earn a career-high-matching 9.95, followed by a 9.85 from Brown. Nichols scored her 10.0 in the No. 5 position before Capps anchored with a solid 9.925 to bring her all-around score to 39.575, the second-highest of the meet.
Nichols’ 10.0 was the fourth of her career and her second on beam. She is the first Sooner to ever post two perfect marks on beam in a career.
The Sooners will face Georgia for a second straight when when they host the GymDogs their final home meet this season. The meet will serve as Senior Night and will begin at 6:45 p.m. CT on Friday, Feb. 24, inside Lloyd Noble Center.