BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Oklahoma posted the top score of 197.5 in the afternoon session of the semifinals of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships and advanced to the Super Six final. The Sooners compete again Saturday at 6 p.m. Oklahoma finished ahead of Georgia and LSU, which received team scores of 197.3 and 197.1, respectively.
“We’re very excited and proud to have qualified,” Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler said, “very happy to have these great teams with us here. It was a battle ’til the end, and it was pretty tight, so I’m glad it was a great meet.”
Kindler and senior gymnast Taylor Spears, who will see her final competition tomorrow, said the team started the meet tight and needs to loosen up for Saturday’s competition.
“The first meet is always a little bit nerve-racking because everyone wants to make it to Super Six,” Spears said. I think on the second day you can really just let it all go.”
Still, Oklahoma finished the first semifinal session in first place after four solid rotations.
The Sooners began the first session on balance beam and earned a 49.35 on the event. Spears led Oklahoma with a score of 9.925, while freshman gymnast Chayse Capps posted a 9.9.
“We were actually very excited to start on beam, and I was very impressed with how they kept their wits about them, to be quite honest,” Kindler said. “I thought they were aggressive, and I think that was really the key to our success today, to come out on balance beam and be that strong.”
After its first bye of the meet, Oklahoma posted a 49.575 on vault. The Sooners earned four scores of 9.9 or higher on the apparatus, with sophomores Maile’ana Kanewa and Haley Scaman both receiving 9.95s.
Oklahoma followed its strong performance on vault up with a 49.325 on floor exercise. Kanewa and Scaman paced the team again, as both gymnasts earned 9.9 scores.
The Sooners sat out of the fifth rotation and ended the meet on uneven parallel bars. Spears led the way once again with a score of 9.9.
Oklahoma will compete for the program’s first national title Saturday inside the BJCC Arena. Kindler and Spears both acknowledged the pressure that is still on the Sooners.
“It’s everything or bust,” Kindler said. “There’s going to be five losers and one winner, so everybody’s just got to put it on the line. If you don’t put it on the line, you’re not going to have the opportunity to win that championship.”