The Norman Transcript

February 15, 2013

Sooners enter Challenge with room left to improve

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Oklahoma Women’s gymnastics team has started the season on a tear. Not only has it moved up to No. 2 in the nation, but it’s coming off its most impressive showing of the year in which it scored 197.625 in a win over Iowa State.

However, K.J. Kindler knows her team hasn’t shown their best hand yet.

“Thank goodness we haven’t had the perfect meet yet,” Kindler said. “We are saving that for April. Coaches are always the biggest critic. I never look at a meet and go, ‘We were incredible that night. I don’t know if we can do better.’ I haven’t done that at all.”

The second-ranked Sooners (11-0) will have a chance to stay perfect when they return home for the second annual Perfect 10 Challenge at 7 p.m. today at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. OU will compete against No. 16 Boise State (4-0), BYU (5-4) and Texas Woman’s University (4-7).

The Challenge is only the second time the women’s gymnastics team will have competed in the state this season.

“We’ve had an interesting schedule,” Kindler said. “We’ve only been home one time this season. And we are halfway through. This little stretch, that’s going to hopefully get us a little down time. No travel. We’ve been successful on the road. Now we need to be successful at home.”

Kindler said her athletes will do their part and perform at the highest level they can. But she is also looking for gymnastic fans to come out and support the team and event.

“Very excited about big crowds,” Kindler said. “We’ve seen big crowds on the road everywhere we have gone. We had our second-highest attendance ever at our first home meet. We want to blow that out of the water.”

For the fourth straight week and fifth time this season, Oklahoma swept the Big 12 weekly gymnastics awards. Taylor Spears was the Gymnast of the Week recipient, while Madison Mooring and Keeley Kmieciak were named Event Specialist of the Week and Newcomer of the Week, respectively.

“This year is the strongest I’ve been mentally and physically,” Spears said. “I’m better, now that I’m a junior. I know what to expect. I am a little bit smarter in that area. I’m more prepared. It’s been like the best time of my life. I’m lucky to experience it with these people.”

The Sooners are the only team in the country to have scored a 197.000 or higher at three road meets this season and one of only three teams in the country to have done it even once on the road.

“We are performing very well,” Spears said. “We still have room to improve, though. The key has been consistency. Being consistent in practice as well. I think we have been working out the kinks as we go along. It’s only the sixth or seventh meet of the season. We’re about halfway, so we can still make changes.”

Performing at the Cox Center for the Challenge allows the Sooners to perform off podiums, which they only do during the NCAA Championships.

“We are excited to compete in that meet because its on podium again,” Kindler said. “It’s a practice for NCAA Championships. The more practice you get, the better and more comfortable you get. That’s a huge advantage.”

Michael Kinney

Follow me @eyeamtruth


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