Gymnastics is not a sport that all conference schools participate in, and the Big 12 has never had a national champion in the sport. That all changes, though, on Saturday when Oklahoma tied Florida for the national title in the 2014 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.
The Sooners and Gators women gymnasts finished the competition with identical team scores of 198.175, the first time in the history of the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships that two teams have ended up with the same final score.
Oklahoma was in third place among the six teams competing for the national crown after the second of the four event rotations behind front-runner Alabama and Florida. The Sooners scored very well on the balance beam, which frequently can be the deciding event in a high-level gymnastics competition, which moved OU into second place behind Alabama.
Then the Sooner women hit it out of the park with a sensational effort in the floor exercise rotation. All six Sooner women scored 9.9 or better, and two OU competitors, sophomore Haley Scaman and senior Lara Albright scored 9.95 in the event.
The Big 12 champions finished out the vault with an impressive team score of 49.55 and what looked like enough to claim the national title outright. The Florida women, however, had an equally impressive performance in their final event, floor exercise, to draw even with the Sooners.
“Our team was just in a magical place from the moment we got here,” Sooner head coach K.J. Kindler told the Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman. “It was like gymnasts were dropping out the sky, all butterflies and wonderful things. There was very little error from our team. That’s the best we can do it.”
The Sooners have now had four top-three finishes the last five years and have finished know lower than seventh in the national championships in those five seasons.
Oklahoma senior Taylor Spears also added an individual title to the team championship by winning the championship in the balance beam. Taylor put up a winning score of 9.925. It was her first time to make it to the finials in the event in the NCAA Championships, and a terrific way to close out her collegiate career.