Oklahoma women end Florida's 3-year title run in gymnastics
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Oklahoma didn't have to share a national championship with Florida this time. On top of that, the Sooners ended the Gators' three-year run of NCAA women's gymnastics titles.
A year after finishing third as an undefeated No. 1 seed, Oklahoma was the top-ranked team again and scored 197.675 points to hold off a late surge by second-place LSU on the final event and win the school's second team title Saturday night.
The Sooners, who recovered from a shaky vault sequence to open the Super Six finals, were co-champs with Florida in 2014, the only time that has happened at the national meet. Now they have their first solo crown.
''I do think we learned a lot about taking one event at a time, one routine at a time,'' said junior Chayse Capps, whose team finished third when Florida won a year ago. ''Last year we did let it get to us maybe a little bit, but this year we put vault behind us and we came back strong.''
The Gators, who finished fourth, knew their run was over before the final routine when LSU's team score passed the Gators after the Tigers posted four scores of 9.9 or better on vault.
Florida's Bridget Sloan, who finished her career with three team titles and six individual crowns, had the top score of 9.9375 on her final event, the uneven bars.
Sloan added three individual crowns yesterday - the all-around along with even bars and balance beam.
''Yeah, I won yesterday and winning team would have been nice,'' said Sloan, a 2008 U.S. Olympian. ''But you know what? I had a great career. I'm very happy and proud. I'm just kind of letting it all sink in now.
Oklahoma answered LSU's late surge by getting all five scores that counted at 9.0 or better on its final event, floor exercise.
The Sooners didn't even need Haley Scaman's event-leading 9.95 on floor because she performed the final routine of the night - after Oklahoma had surged to the top of the leaderboard and a large contingent of fans celebrated. The OU campus is about 200 miles from Fort Worth.
''In the beginning of my dance, I face the crowd, and I saw Keeley (Kmieciak) sobbing, and I kind of had a feeling we won then,'' said Scaman, a senior who made four trips to the Super Six and finished second to Florida as a freshman in 2013. ''I knew I had to stay focused. I wanted to finish with a bang on my last floor routine of my career.''
LSU scored 197.45, and Alabama was third at 197.4375 in its ninth straight Super Six finals. UCLA was fifth, and Georgia took sixth.
The Gators were trying to join Georgia (2005-09) and Utah (1982-86) as the only schools to win at least four straight titles.
''I don't like losing,'' said Sloan, who finished tied for second on floor behind Scaman in the finals. ''And I was like, I hope my team understands how Florida doesn't like losing. But some nights it happens.''
Julianna Cannamela, Sydney Ewing and Sarah Finnegan opened LSU's finishing vault routine with three straight 9.9 scores. Then Ashleigh Gnat topped the field with a 9.95 on the final vault of the night.
While it wasn't enough for the Tigers' first title, LSU had the best finish in school history, topping a third-place showing two years ago.
''In this event, in this environment, with the kind of fight this team had, yeah, it's a win,'' LSU coach D-D Breaux said. ''It's a big win. It's the highest finish we've ever had, and I'm going to take that home and do a victory lap with it.''