NORMAN — The phrase “pressure can burst a pipe or make a diamond” is used often in the sports world. Six women’s gymnastics teams will put that old adage to the test at 4 p.m. today in the NCAA Regional Championship at Lloyd Noble Center.
With only the top two squads advancing to the national championships April 19-20, every routine has to be their best or they could be watching the meet from home in two weeks.
“I think for our team we just need to do what we have been doing, be confident and have fun this time,” Oklahoma’s Taylor Spears said. “We have fun at all meets, but we just need to let loose and show everyone what we have.”
The second-ranked Sooners (21-1) earned a No. 1 seed at the regional and will be joined by Stanford, Penn State, Washington, Iowa and Southern Utah. Each of them are fighting to make sure they’re the last ones standing when the weekend is over.
“We need to have fun, but of course, everyone knows we need to place in the top two in order to get to nationals,” Penn State’s Sharaya Musser said. “The one thing we have really been focusing on is doing what we’ve done all season. We put the pressure on ourselves in practice so we can handle it in a situation like we will be in tomorrow.”
This is the sixth consecutive year for Iowa to make it to regionals. However, it has not finished in the top two since 2004. Despite having a team that has gone through major injuries and filled with underclassmen, senior Emma Stevenson believes her squad has what it takes to make it to nationals this year.
“We just approach it like any other,” Stevenson said. “While this is the biggest meet of the year up to this point, it also needs to feel like every meet that you have had. I feel like that’s the best way to approach it. We have the talent, we just have to get our mindset in the right place.”