Football isn’t the only sport in which Oklahoma has a strong national reputation. Gymnastics is right up there. Over this past weekend, the Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team earned a trip to the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles later this month by winning their fourth straight NCAA Regional championship. It will be the 10th consecutive year the Sooners have been one of the teams competing for the national championship.
The Sooner lady gymnasts trailed Stanford by 48 points heading into the final event of the regional champi0nship held this past weekend at Lloyd Noble Center on the Oklahoma campus. Fortunately for OU, the final event of the competition, floor exercise, is the Sooners best event. OU is the nation’s leader in that event, with an average score of 49.25. Oklahoma needed at least a score of 48 points in floor exercise to retain its regional championship title.
Behind co-champions Brie Olson and Haley Scaman, the Sooners received a team score of 49.470 in the final event, giving them a total team score of 197.375, .575 better than second-place Stanford. The top two teams in each regional qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held at UCLA April 19-21.
Iowa State’s Michelle Shealy also is headed to the NCAA Championships for a fifth-place finish in the all-around competition at the Tuscaloosa, Al., Regional. The top two individual finishers in the all-around competition not from a qualifying team advance to the NCAA Championships. West Virginia, the only other Big 12 school that participates in gymnastics, was fifth at its own regional (in Morgantown, W.V.)
Oklahoma captured six individual titles at the Norman Regional. In addition to having the top two finishers in floor exercise, Rebecca Clark and Taylor Spears were co-championbs on the uneven bars, Spears was co-champion on the balance beam and also was awarded the title as all-around champion. Spears, a junior, was the Big 12 Gymnast of thge Year and the conference all-around champion.
“It’s our fourth straight year of winning a regional,” OU coach K.J. Kindler said. “I don’t think it ever gets old.”
While the OU women were earning their 10th straight appearance in the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship, the Oklahoma male gymnasts captured their 20th consecutive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference championship over the weekend in Colorado Springs. The Sooners havw won 12 of the last 15 conference crowns in men’s gymnastics.
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