Women's gymnastics: Tough meet Friday as No. 1 OU takes on No. 4 Alabama
Coming off of victories in the final two home meets of the season, the No. 1 Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team travels to No. 4 Alabama for its final meet of the regular season Friday.
Last Friday, the Sooners defeated then-No. 16 Arizona with the third-highest team score in program history, just before defeating then-No. 9 Stanford and North Carolina for senior day on Sunday.
After strong performances over the weekend, the Big 12 honored two Sooners this week – junior Taylor Spears and freshman Maile’ana Kanewa – in the weekly conference awards. Spears earned Gymnast of the Week after claiming her fifth all-around title of the year on Friday while Kanewa earned Newcomer of the Week after claiming a first place title on vault, also on Friday.
This week, the undefeated Sooners will travel to Tuscaloosa and endure a tough road challenge against the Crimson Tide to close out the regular season.
However, Oklahoma will be without freshman all-around standout, Keeley Kmieciak due to an emergency tonsillectomy procedure earlier this week that will force her to sit out for at least two weeks.
“Our team is known for handling adversity very well,” Spears said. “Loosing Keeley, we are losing someone on all four events, so the people that are in the backup position had to be ready, and they were.”
With changes to the lineup, Oklahoma will have to adapt quickly to prepare for an intense atmosphere in Tuscaloosa.
“They are a storied program with back-to-back national championships, a sold out arena, and it’s senior night for them, so I think this is probably going to be the most challenging environment we will be in this entire year,” OU head coach K.J. Kindler said. “It’s how we handle that environment that is going to determine the result.”
Alabama (7-2) shows strength across the board with a second place ranking on beam, third place ranking on floor, fourth place ranking on vault and a sixth place ranking on bars.
“We may win, we may not win, but it’s how we handle the adversity that is in particular interest to me,” Kindler said. “Obviously it is always nice from a confidence level to finish the last regular season meet of the year on an up-note, but I like the fact that my team is being challenged right now.”
Oklahoma is set to take on Alabama at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Tuscaloosa.