Following an exciting competition with the best collegiate talent in the country, the Oklahoma Sooners put up a stunning performance to capture the NCAA Championship title. Not only did the team finish in first place, but they set a new record with the highest score in NCAA Championship history, finishing with a 198.3875.
LSU placed second with a 197.7375, followed by Florida with a 197.7000, UCLA with a 197.2625, Utah with a 196.5875, and Alabama with a 196.0000.
OKLAHOMA SECURES AN EARLY LEAD
The Sooners made their mark early in the competition when they started on bars in Rotation 2, historically one of their best events. Every routine was solid, and every single gymnast in the lineup stuck their dismount. The team set their first record of the night on this event with a 49.5875, the highest score on bars in NCAA Championship history. The momentum carried over to beam where they put up their strongest performance of the night, totaling a whopping 49.7. Maggie Nichols stole the show, altering her routine to take out the front tuck she fell on in Semifinals and scoring a perfect 10.0.
At the halfway point, Oklahoma had a comfortable lead with a 99.2875, nearly five tenths ahead of second place LSU. After a bye in the fourth rotation, the Sooners headed to floor and continued their trend of stuck landings, something that made the team stand out throughout the entire competition. Both Nichols and AJ Jackson scored the highest in the rotation with 9.95s, and senior Chayse Capps competed a big double layout as her first pass to score a 9.9125. Competition ended for Oklahoma on vault, and although they showed their first landing issues all meet with the first few gymnasts, they capped it off with both Jackson and Nichols sticking their Yurchenko 1.5s.
LSU STRUGGLES EARLY BUT ENDS WITH A BANG
After an absolutely stellar performance in Semifinals, LSU had a somewhat disappointing start to their competition. Also starting on a bye, the Tigers went to their best events first - floor and vault, and had suboptimal performances on both. Seniors Sydney Ewing and Shae Zamardi had weak scores to start off the floor rotation, with Ewing stepping out of bounds. The team had similar landing issues on vault, normally one of their highest scoring events, with lots of hops and stumbles adding up in deductions. The team headed to bars in the fourth rotation and put up a decent number, but still had struggles with landings on their dismounts. The highlight of their competition came on their last event - beam - where the team rallied and set a new record with the highest score in NCAA Championship history on the event. They totaled a 49.725, with the high score coming from Sarah Finnegan, who put up a nearly flawless routine and scoring a 9.975, a career high. Myia Hambrick also secured a career high with a 9.95, and Ashleigh Gnat closed out her collegiate career as the team's final performer and tied her career high 9.95.
FLORIDA STAYS SOLID ON ALL FOUR
Florida came in a close third, nearly beating LSU in the end. Though a difficult event to start on, they put up a solid performance on beam in the first rotation, even after a fall by Rachel Gowey on her series. Gowey got redemption on bars in the next rotation where she scored a huge 9.9 for the team with a beautiful routine. Alex McMurtry proved to be a clutch performer the entire evening, scoring the highest for the team on every event. Her most notable routine was bars where she scored a perfect 10.0, and she once again nailed her triple full on floor to score a 9.95.
UCLA CONTINUES TO IMPROVE IN SUPER SIX FINISH
UCLA continues to improve every year, and they had an excellent performance tonight, finishing in 4th. They started on their weakest event - vault - where they lack difficulty compared to the other teams. They also suffered a bit from hops and steps here and there that added up in deductions. The Bruins had some early issues on bars in Rotation 3 when Sonya Meraz had a fall as the first competitor, but the team rallied and the remaining routines were solid, especially from Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross, who scored 9.9375 and 9.95, respectively. The team's score went up further on beam in the fourth rotation, with the highlight being Peng Peng Lee's final routine as a Bruin, which she happened to score a perfect 10.0 on. The entire competition came to a close with UCLA on floor, with everyone in the arena watching senior Hallie Mossett's final routine, which scored a big 9.9125.
UTAH & ALABAMA FINISH STRONG
Utah and Alabama both had rough starts to the competition in Rotation 1, counting mistakes that were hard to come back from. Utah started on floor and had out of bounds deductions from both Tiffani Lewis and Makenna Merrell. Unsurprisingly, MyKayla Skinner put up a high score for the team as the final performer with a 9.925. The Red Rocks had similar issues on vault, counting too many steps and hops and just making it over the 49.0 mark. They had their best performance in Rotation 4 on bars, where they totaled a 49.3125, the high being senior Baely Rowe's 9.9. Overall, the team was solid on beam, despite an unfortunate fall from Rowe in her final routine for Utah.
Alabama unfortunately was a bit off at the start of the competition as well. The team began Rotation 1 on bars and had three solid performances with stuck dismounts to start, but the bottom half of the lineup had some issues. Senior Amanda Jetter fell on her release move, followed by Kiana Winston struggling on a cast, and Katie Bailey going over on a handstand. As a result, the Crimson Tide went sub-49 on their first event. Things did not go any better as the team headed to beam in Rotation 2, and they had to count a fall after Keely McNeer fell on her series and Maddie Desch fell on her front aerial. They ended on a high, however, and had strong routines from Aja Sims, Winston and Nickie Guerrero. Things started to pick up for the team after that, and they had their strongest performance on floor with a 49.325, and ended on vault with a 49.1625.
Congratulations to all the teams on their superb performances!
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