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April 5, 2013

Kanewa has stepped up to help vault Sooners into contention

Oklahoma to host NCAA regional

NORMAN — In 2008 Maile’ana Kanewa appeared in the film “Older Than America” as Little Apple. Kanewa was 12 years old at the time and got to meet future Hollywood star Bradley Cooper. That would be the highlight of many people’s careers and lives.

“I did it because I looked like the part they were looking for, my coloring (skin tone).” Kanewa said. “I loved that kind of stuff so I tried out. I loved it. It was so much fun.”

However, Kanewa has put being a movie star to the side for now. As a freshman on the No. 2 Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team, she is focused on doing something just as dramatic. She wants to help the Sooners win their first-ever national championship.

“I think we’ve had a pretty successful season so far,” Kanewa said. “We just want to keep going and progress to nationals.”

In order to get to the national meet, the Sooners first have to take care of business at regionals.

Oklahoma earned a No. 1 seed and will host one of the six NCAA Regional Championships at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lloyd Noble Arena. No. 11 Stanford, No. 14 Penn State, No. 22 Washington, Iowa and Southern Utah will be on hand contending for the crown and a spot at nationals. The top two teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championships, April 19, on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, to compete for a spot in the NCAA Super Six and a national championship April 20.

This is the second time in three years Oklahoma has played host to a regional tourney. Coach K.J. Kindler sees this team being more prepared for the postseason than the one in 2011.

“We were a strong team that year, but we are stronger this year,” Kindler said. “I think from top to bottom we have more depth on every single event. We don’t expose a large weakness on any one event.”

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