Oklahoma Gymnastics Reclaims No. 1 Spot After Defeating No. 5 Georgia

NORMAN — It took only one week into the season for Oklahoma to claim the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The Sooners did it by beating up on No. 12 Arkansas in the season opener with a 198.050.

But Oklahoma's first task as the top team in the country was to face off with No. 5 Georgia at home.

However, none of that seemed to matter to the Sooners. They rolled through the Gymdogs 197.825-195.300 Friday night at Lloyd Noble Center. It was the type of performance that let Oklahoma know where it stood and the Sooners seemed to like the view. 

“For this early in the year, I thought that it was a great outing,” OU coach K.J. Kindler said. “I think Georgia is a storied program. They are a very good team. So when you know you’re going against a top team, you know you have to be that much better to come out ahead. I think the team took that as a challenge walking in here tonight.”

The Sooners moved to 2-0 on the season and improved to 96-4 at home all-time under Kindler.

For the Gymdogs, who were coming off their best score in more than a decade, it was not the performance they had wanted to see.

“We underperformed, for sure,” Georgia coach Courtney Kupets Carter said.

The night did not begin well for the Gymdogs when they started on the uneven bars. Senior Sydney Snead was first up and she posted a score of 9.100 after falling.

Next to go was freshman Rachael Lukacs. The freshman lost her grip as she was going from one bar to the other and fell. She got back up and finished, but she was only able to garner a score of 8.8.50.

As a team, Georgia earned a 48.250 on the bars.

“We started off with a fall, then we repeated it with a second fall and that just really tightened everybody up throughout the competition,” Carter said. “You can tell them to just let that go and move on to the next event. They held on to it. So we have a lot of work to do.”

Conversely, the Sooners came out rolling on the vault. The lowest score posted was a 9.85 by Allie Stern. Jade Degouveia led the charge with a 9.95 as Oklahoma racked up a 49.500 on the event.

Being able to begin the meet in such a strong fashion on the vault is part of the plan for OU.

“It was not a happy accident,” Kindler said. “There are no happy accidents in our program. We’re very methodical about what we do. I can tell you that [OU assistant] coach Lou Ball started this back in May. Coach Ball, I’m sure wants everybody to have a 10.0 and has worked to push people in that direction.”

Oklahoma continued to pile up the points on the uneven bars. This time it was Maggie Nichols and Brenna Dowell, who each posted a score of 9.950.

Georgie came back strong on the vault with a 49.300. After the mishap on the bars, Snead responded with a 9.950.

“Bars was rough,” Snead said. “There’s not much time. I kind of had to pull it together quick and just think about one event at a time instead of getting ahead of myself.”

After two rotations, the Sooners held a 99.025 to 97.550 advantage over the Gymdogs. The magnitude of the matchup did not seem to be affecting them at all.

“I think it’s all about mindset,” Oklahoma’s Nicole Lehrmann said. “How we take those different energies and put it into your performance.”

The meet began to slip out of Georgia's reach in the third rotation. Performing on the floor, the Gymdogs' highest score was a 9.900 from Sabrina Vega. That was not enough to offset the 9.575 by Mikayla Magee and the 9.625 by Lukacs.

Oklahoma ended the night on the floor exercises. Of the six Sooners to compete, three scored at least a 9.90. Nichols and Olivia Troutman each posted a 9.925 to close out the evening for the OU.

“I think we can put out even better,” Lehrmann said. “I’m excited.

The Sooners have now scored more than 196 points in 107 straight events. The next closest is 46 straight.

However, for the Sooners, that mark is no longer something they strive to hit.

“There was a time, I will be honest, when we hit 196s and we yell, ‘Yes, we’ve arrived. We’re killing it,’” Kindler said. “This program has just grown over time. The expectation has just risen. Now, when I hear 196, I try to get that out of our vocabulary. We have really moved past that.”

Georgia will take on Alabama Jan. 18 at home, while Oklahoma travels to North Carolina Jan. 19.

Michael Kinney is a freelance content provider who handles sports, news, entertainment, culture, and lifestyles. You can find him on TwitterInstagram, and on his blog.

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