Year in Review: Women's gymnastics
Sooners finish powerhouse season with a national No. 2 spot
A season filled with wins, records and triumphs earned the OU women’s gymnastics team a finish at the No. 2 spot in the nation and an unforgettable season that will go down in Sooner history.
Boasting a 19-1 regular season record, the Sooners moved on to a successful postseason, claiming the 11th conference title in program history, a fourth-straight regional title, a third-ever trip to the Super Six team finals and a second-place finish at the NCAA National Championships with a 197.375 team score — the highest the program has ever recorded at the Championships.
The Sooners took on one of the toughest regular season schedules in the nation, defeating four teams that finished the season in the Top 25, beginning with a road victory against Georgia for their first-ever win in Athens.
Oklahoma kept the momentum as it spent multiple weeks as high as No. 1 in the nation before barely falling to Alabama in a tough Tuscaloosa atmosphere for the final meet of the regular season.
However, the most impressive win of the season came when OU hosted then-No. 5 UCLA in front of a record crowd of 2,874 at Lloyd Noble Center. In that duel, Oklahoma defeated the Bruins with a 198.375 team score — the highest score in program history and the highest the NCAA has seen in nine years.
That win also featured the highly anticipated Sooner debut of freshman Maile’ana Kanewa. The freshman vault standout was forced to sit out the first seven meets of the season due to a preseason wrist surgery before claiming the vault title in her return against the Bruins. Kanewa continued to be an important weapon on the event for the remainder of the season, claiming another vault title against Arizona and a third-place finish on the event at the NCAA Regional.
Furthermore, the Sooners’ strong roster earned them 72 shared or outright total titles this season, with junior Taylor Spears claiming the most at 26. Additionally, Spears, senior Brie Olson and sophomore Erica Brewer combined to claim 13 of 14 all-around titles on the season.
With the 26 titles, Spears led the nation with eight all-around crowns and a No. 1 ranking on beam to contribute to her Big 12 Gymnast of the Year title. She also was named NACGC First-Team All-American on beam and in the all-around — among a long list of other accomplishments.
Olson also made a huge impact. In her senior season as a Sooner, she was an AAI Award Finalist, which honors the nation’s top senior gymnast, claimed 14 individual titles, tied a program record with a 39.700 all-around score vs. UCLA and was honored as a three-time NACGC All-American, including first-team honors on bars and second-team honors in the all-around and on beam.
The talent and success the Sooners presented this year undoubtedly reflects a program that is on the rise. Although they came up short of the ultimate goal — their first national title — they created a season that will pave the way to success within the program for years to come.