OU Intrasquad: Nichols Nails AA, Dowell Gets 10.0, Kindler Impressed

Christy Ann Linder

Release via OU Gymnastics

NORMAN, Oklahoma — In front of a packed house in the Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center, the defending national champion Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team showcased their 2018 routines at their annual intrasquad Friday night.

In a live meet setting with two judges per event, the Sooners previewed their new routines and skills on all four events. Brenna Dowell had the high score of the night with a perfect 10.0 on vault. Senior AJ Jackson and sophomore Maggie Nichols participated in the all-around, with at least seven Sooners competing on each apparatus.

“Honestly, I thought our dynamics were really good,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “These vaults were high, they were far, they were tight. The landings were really good.

So I was just impressed overall, from top to bottom. Alternates included, it looked great.

The Sooners started off the night on a high note, recording at least a 9.9 on five of their vaults. Dowell was the highlight of the event, nailing her Yurchenko 1 1/2 for the only perfect 10 of the night.

“I mean she nailed it and did not move those feet at all,” Kindler said. “She was a rock star today on everything quite honestly, so it was great to see her do that in the first meet.”

Sophomore Bre Showers, competing her first routines as a Sooner, led off with a solid 9.9 and Nichols anchored with a 9.975.

“Both Bre and Jade (Degouveia) had limited action last year and that sophomore class, Bre, Jade and Maggie, is huge for us,” Kindler said. “They could perform 10 to 12 routines for us. I am really excited to see her (Showers) out there for the first time. She has been showing some nervousness in practice as this has been crawling up for us but today she let it all go and I am very proud of her for doing that.”

On bars, reigning co-national champion Nicole Lehrmann paced Oklahoma with a 9.925 in the No. 5 slot. The Sooners put together an impressive top-to-bottom performance with four scores of at least 9.9.

“I thought they were very aggressive on their angles,” Kindler said. “Sometimes on these first meets they hold back a little. They are a little nervous but I thought that everyone was very aggressive. Good landings again, so I am really happy with the bar lineup from top to bottom.”

In her first appearance as a Sooner, freshman Anastasia Webb put together a solid performance in the No. 2 slot for a 9.9. After not competing bars in 2017, Jackson tallied a 9.85 in the leadoff spot and Nichols anchored with a strong 9.9.

Senior Stefani Catour led off with a steady 9.9 to pace the Sooners on the event. Nichols once again anchored, tallying a team-best 9.975 after receiving a 10.0 from one of the two judges.

“Balance beam was really solid routines,” Kindler continued. “I was super impressed with Anastasia Webb. As a freshman it is very hard to get out there and nail the 9.9 right out of the gate.

She actually competed almost better than she practices sometimes so that is good to know as a coach and see.

The meet closed with the Sooners on floor, showcasing their new routines. Natalie Brown led off with a 9.875, while Nichols added a 9.95 in the No. 5 spot and Jackson anchored with a 9.9.

“I just loved getting to see them showcase their new floor routines," Kindler said. "They danced a little more aggressively today than they do in practice and they were really showing it off, making eye contact with the crowd. That is always fun to watch. That was the highlight for me, but the tumbling was great too.”

The Sooners will open the 2018 season at 1 p.m. CT on Monday, Jan. 15, in Athens, Ga. as they face Georgia in the first road contest of the season.

“We open with Georgia so it is going to be a big deal,” Kindler said. “It is going to be a huge crowd. We are so excited to be there and kind of see that new coaching staff taking over. It is going to be fun, so we are excited for that first meet and looking forward to our entire season.”

The home slate opens on Jan. 21 at 2:45 p.m. CT against Iowa State and TWU in the annual Beauty and the Beast meet with OU Wrestling.

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