Sooners Claim Seventh Straight Big 12 Title
|2017 Big 12 Champions|
|Vault||AJ Jackson (OU), Maddie Karr (DU)||9.950|
|Bars||Nicole Lehrmann (OU)||9.975|
|Beam||Kaitlyn Schou (DU)||9.925|
|Floor||Dowell (OU), Karr (DU), Nichols (OU), Webb (OU), Young (ISU)||9.900|
|AA||Maggie Nichols (OU)||39.675|
|OU Team Highs|
|Floor||Dowell, Webb, Nichols||9.900|
AMES, Iowa – For the seventh straight season, the Oklahoma Sooners are the Big 12 Champions.
Top-ranked Oklahoma recorded a 197.775 to take the title. Conference affiliate member and 13th-ranked Denver took second with a 197.075, and Iowa State finished third with a 196.650. No. 25 West Virginia finished fourth with a 195.625. The meet was held inside Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.
The Big 12 Conference title is the 11th in program history for OU and the 10th under 12th-year head coach K.J. Kindler.
The Sooners took home three of four event titles and the all-around title. Senior AJ Jackson took home her fourth Big 12 title and third on vault with a 9.950, sharing the title with Denver’s Maddie Karr. Junior Nicole Lehrmann won the bars title outright, the first conference title of her career, with a 9.975.
The floor title was shared between five athletes, including junior Brenna Dowell, sophomore Maggie Nichols and freshman Anastasia Webb. Nichols also took home the all-around title with a 39.675.
Following the conclusion of the meet, Big 12 Yearly awards were announced as well. Nichols was named the Big 12 Gymnast of the Year, the second major conference award of her career after being named the Newcomer of the Year in 2017. Freshman Anastasia Webb was named the Co-Newcomer of The Year with Denver’s Lynnzee Brown. Senior Stefani Catour was named the Event Specialist of the Year for the first time in her career. Kindler was also recognized as the conference’s coach of the year. This marks Kindler’s 12th Big 12 Coach of the Year honor of her career and ninth at Oklahoma.
OU opened the meet on floor for the first time this season, jumping out to an early lead with a 49.425. Denver added a 49.225 on vault, West Virginia a 49.025 on bars and Iowa State a 48.775 on beam.
Dowell, Nichols and Webb paced the Sooners with a trio of 9.9s. Senior AJ Jackson added a 9.875 in the No. 4 spot, and freshman Evy Schoepfer added a 9.850 in the No. 2 spot.
“We started on floor and I thought we had an excellent performance,” Kindler said. “It was nice to see AJ out there again and I was especially proud of Evy as a freshman in the second spot. I thought she was spot on. We had really good, really solid floor performances. We can definitely get better and we need to work on being a little more vivacious out there. Looking forward to that because we’ll have the same rotation at regionals.”
At the midway point, the Sooners held a narrow .125 lead after recording a 49.400 on vault. Denver was on bars, West Virginia on beam and Iowa State on floor in the rotation, posting totals of 49.475, 49.125 and 48.525, respectively.
Jackson was the highlight of the rotation, scoring a 9.950 in the No. 4 spot on an incredible Yurchenko 1.5. Nichols added a 9.925 in the anchor spot and Dowell added a 9.900 in the No. 3 spot. Webb contributed a 9.825 on her Omelianchik, while junior Nicole Lehrmann tallied a 9.800 on a Yurchenko full in the No. 2 spot.
“It feels great,” Jackson said. “I’ve been working really hard on trying to find that landing and this week in practice I was really nailing it, so I just thought I should bring that to the meet.”
The Sooners had an incredible third rotation, setting a school record on bars with an incredible 49.725. Denver was on beam (49.200), Iowa State on vault (49.075) and West Virginia on floor (49.025).
The Sooners counted five scores of 9.9 or higher, including four scores of 9.95 or higher. Lehrmann was incredible and just shy of perfection with a 9.975 to lead the team. Catour set a career high with a 9.950 in the No. 3 spot on a gorgeous and steady routine.
Nichols and Dowell each added 9.95s with stunning routines. Webb added a 9.900 in the leadoff spot, pacing the Sooners to a huge total from the very beginning.
“The bar rotation was amazing from the get-go,” Kindler said. “Anastasia just kicking it off and getting us started on the right foot, nailing that landing. And then just seeing landing after landing. Nicole Lehrmann, 9.975, pretty exciting. I was really excited for her there.”
The Sooners ended the meet on beam with a 49.225. Other team scores included a 49.175 on floor for Denver, a 48.675 on bars for Iowa State and a 49.050 on vault for West Virginia.
Nichols recorded the highest score for the Sooners with a 9.9 in the anchor spot. Natalie Brown added a 9.875 in the No. 4 spot, while Lehrmann tallied a 9.850 in the No. 3 spot. Catour and sophomore Brehanna Showers added a pair of 9.8s to lead off the rotation.
“We had some ups and downs throughout the meet,” Catour said. “As a whole I thought it was a lot of fun and there was a lot of good energy. It was different starting on floor, but at regionals we start on floor so that’s good practice. It’s a bittersweet feeling, but it was exciting.”
Oklahoma will receive its regional assignment next Monday, March 26. NCAA Regional competition is set for Saturday, April 7, at six campus sites around the country (Alabama, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, Utah). The top two placing teams from each regional will advance to the 2017 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo., on April 20 and 21.