Women's Gymnastics: Sooners hope to take first national title this weekend
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
After clinching its fourth straight NCAA Regional Title, the Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team will compete at the NCAA National Championship tournament in Los Angeles this weekend, hoping to claim the first national championship in the program's history.
The Sooners enter the final weekend of the postseason as the No. 2 seed and will take on No. 3 Alabama, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Michigan, No. 10 Utah and No. 11 Arkansas in the semifinals Friday.
In order to advance to the Super Six team finals Saturday, Oklahoma will need to finish in the top three of the semifinal competition.
“Our semifinal session is very heavy with rankings,” coach K.J. Kindler said. “Also in that division are four Super Six qualifiers from last season, so it’s heavy with experience as well, but you can’t focus on that.
"This year is different, and if we can hit our gymnastics, I believe we will move on.”
OU has reached the NCAA Championships each of the last 10 years, finishing as high as second in 2010. Yet, the Sooners hope to take it even further this year.
“We just know that this could be our first time to win a national championship, and we all want it so bad, and we have been working super hard,” freshman Keeley Kmieciak said. “I just feel like we definitely have stepped it up a little bit.”
Boasting the most wins (25) and the best win percentage (.962) of any team in the nation this season as they head into the final weekend, the Sooners close out one of the most impressive seasons in program history and look forward to facing the top teams in the nation.
“We are all very consistent, and we have had a great year,” Kmieciak said. “It will be exciting to see some of those big teams we haven’t competed against yet this year.”
One of the teams OU has yet to face this season is No. 1 Florida, who currently sits just above the Sooners in the national rankings.
However, Kindler stressed the importance of keeping the focus off of their opponents.
“We cannot focus on anyone else because we cannot affect what they do," she said. "We can only affect what we do, and I think it will be important that we stay zeroed in on our team.”
Based off of this season's consistent high scores, Oklahoma thinks the title is in reach.
“It’s definitely in their reach, but we have some incredible competition," Kindler said. "In all honesty, I think this is one of the deepest fields that the NCAA has ever produced, so it’s really anyone’s game. Have we positioned ourselves to have an opportunity for it? Absolutely."
"They will never look back on this season and say, ‘we didn’t do enough;’ it’s just going to come down to the wire and what they have to give this weekend.”
The Sooners are set to compete in the second session of the semifinals at 8:05 p.m. Friday.