By Michael Kinney
The Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team has owned the Big 12 for close to a decade. Coming into Saturday’s conference meet at Lloyd Noble Center, they have taken home the team title seven consecutive years.
Carrying a No. 1 ranking and an undefeated record, the Sooners seemed to be a shoo-in to make it eight straight. But conference affiliate member Denver put up a stronger level of competition than expected. It came down to the final rotation of the afternoon to decide the champion.
But just like the have in the past, the Sooners found a way to claim the crown,
Oklahoma posted a score of 197.575 to take the 2019 Big 12 Championship. No. 5 Denver was right behind at 197.250, with No. 22 Iowa State finishing third with a 195.950. West Virginia placed fourth with a 195.600.
The Sooners now have 12 conference titles, with 11 of them coming under the watch of OU coach K.J. Kindler.
However, Kindler was not impressed with her team’s total performance.
“Our vault landings, although our vaults were dynamic, at the end of the day in the postseason, the landings are going to be everything,” Kindler said. “We had three hops that were greater than three foot which is a two-tenths deduction. That is what they were getting deducted for because the vaults were very pretty in the air. We have to do a better job of reigning that in so that it is a small step an only a tenth off verses that big step and the two tenths off.”
The Sooners came away with the top team scores on three of the four rotations. The floor exercises were the only event they took second.
That allowed Denver to make the meet closer than many thought it would be.
Olivia Troutman put the meet away for Oklahoma, though, when she hit a 9.975 on the floor. That sealed the title for the Sooners.
“Brenna (Dowell) and Olivia pretty much saved the day on floor,” Kindler said. “They had no choice not to just stay on their feet, but to nail their routines with giant scores. One a senior and one a freshman, one experience and one can obviously handle the pressure. That is what I think of the meet. I think that there were some really great things and some things we can definitely improve on.”
The meet was the final home competition for several seniors. That includes Dowell, who was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Year.
Trautman was named the Newcomer of the Year, joining teammates Dowell, junior Maggie Nichols and sophomore Anastasia Webb as Sooners to have won the honor. Junior Jade Degouveia was named the Event Specialist of the Year for the first time in her career.
The Sooners will now head off to the regional meet April 4-6, where they hope to land a spot in the 2019 NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas on April 19 and 20.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider