The Road To NCAAs: AJ Jackson, Sooners Aim To Stay Within Themselves

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AJ Jackson and the Oklahoma Sooners enter this year's Super Six with a little more pressure than previous seasons. The Sooners are the defending national champions and Jackson looks to help her team secure its second consecutive title.

The junior is dynamic on floor exercise and vault where she brings power and can bring in the big scores that Oklahoma will need. She has not posted a score below a 9.875 on vault in 14 meets this season. Ten times she has scored a 9.900 or better for her Yurchenko one and a half.

Jackson's floor routine is a crowd favorite. While she can only mime the chalk blowing in her routine now, she typically has all of her teammates and even some of the Oklahoma fans in the stands doing the chalk blowing at the start of her routine.

Oklahoma aims to defend its national title at Saturday's Super Six against LSU, Florida, Alabama, UCLA and Utah. Last year, the Sooners came out on top by 0.225.

FloGymnastics: What is your favorite event to perform on and why?
AJ Jackson: I love floor because you get to show your personality and because KJ [Kindler] does such a good job with choreography and it's just really fun to show it off.

What is your favorite skill to perform on any event?
My favorite skill is my full-out on floor. It just feels like I'm flying through the air.

What is the most challenging skill that you've learned and what made it challenging for you?
Actually, my full-in on floor is probably one of the most challenging skills I had to learn because it just takes a lot of patience and a lot of time to understand the basics of the skill to perform it well.

What was the biggest thing that you took away from regionals that you'll apply to nationals?
My biggest thing is that we worked really well as a team and we need to continue pushing like that and just keep growing as a team in general.

Going in as the defending champions this year, is there a little bit of added pressure and how are you all handling that?
There is a little bit of pressure but we just try to stay within ourselves and focus on what we need to do to perform at our absolute best.

How does the adversity that your team faces in the regular season help you prepare for the postseason?
It helps us realize what we need to work on, what little minor details that have to be fixed and just overall as a team how we support each other and how we go about doing that.

How do you bounce back from a fall?
We just all have each other's back. We know that if we fall, our team will have our back and support us no matter what. Everybody makes mistakes and you're not always going to be perfect so you have to keep that mindset?

Is there any added pressure to hit your routine if there is a fall in front of you and if so, how do you handle that?
Usually I don't really know what happens to the people in front of me. I try to stay within myself and do what I know how to do. Even if I do there's a fall ahead of me, I know that I can trust my training and go out there and do what I know how to do.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Kind of goofy, a little shy and very protective of those I care about.

What are you most looking forward to about competing next week at nationals?
I'm really looking forward to being able to compete in front of my family and my friends and just being able to compete for my team on this big of a stage.

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Editor's note: The following article contains sensitive information and may not be appropriate for certain readers.

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Six Gymnasts Added To Field For 2018 Nastia Liukin Cup

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Press release below via USA Gymnastics.

Oklahoma, Maggie Nichols Shine in Season-Opening Win At Georgia

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The defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners and star Maggie Nichols opened their season on the road in Athens, Georgia, in front of a sell-out Bulldog crowd. It was the second meet in four days for the GymDogs, who struggled in their opener against Alabama. 

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Recapping The Action: Michigan Grabs Top Score, UCLA Wins In Reno

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Week two in the NCAA saw near-perfect-10s, SEC showdowns, and programs on the rise. Catch all the action you missed right here.

Preview: Utah, UCLA, Stanford, And Washington Clash At Elevate The Stage

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The Elevate the Stage college meet kicks off Sunday at 5 PM ET in Reno, Nevada, and will be broadcast LIVE on FloGymnastics. Watch as No. 2 Utah, No. 4 UCLA, Stanford, and Washington face off in a Pac-12 showdown. 

Preview: 2018 Elevate The Stage Club Meet In Reno, Nevada

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The 2018 Reno Elevate the Stage Meet takes place this weekend, with the club competition kicking off on Saturday, January 13. FloGymnastics will be on-site and streaming the competition live with the level 9 and 10 competitors. The level 9 session begins at 10 AM PST and the level 10 competition takes place later that evening at 6:30 PM PST.

NCAA Gymnastics: 5 Routines You Won't Want To Miss In Week Two

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The second week of the NCAA season kicks off on Friday night with a big matchup between LSU and Florida. Big Ten rivals Michigan and Ohio State clash on Saturday, and then it’s a Pac-12 showdown as Stanford, Utah, UCLA, and Washington take to the floor in the Elevate the Stage meet in Reno.