The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 21, 2014

Taylor Spears makes most of her first and final shot with balance beam national title

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Competing in her first and final NCAA championships, Taylor Spears left nothing on the table. After helping the Sooners to a team title Saturday night, the senior took home the individual title for balance beam Sunday afternoon.

Spears, who won with a score of 9.925, said jitters weren’t a problem despite the situation.

“I knew it was my last routine ever and I just went out there and did what I know how to do, what I’ve been doing all year,” Spears said.

Georgia’s Lindsey Cheek (9.90) was second on the beam followed by a four-way tie for third.

For Spears, it was the happiest of endings to a career on an event that can lead to heartbreak as easily as glory. A fall from the beam on the last routine of Saturday night ended Alabama’s title hopes.

“Every dream for her probably has come true in the last two days,” Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler said. “To watch it end like that was really unique, I think.

“You see careers end in so many different ways, injuries or not quite getting where you wanted to get. So this is a pretty rare moment to see someone who has won a team national championship and then an individual national championship for the first time on the last chance.”

Arkansas’ Katherine Grable captured two titles on the final day of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships.

Grable, who was tied for second in the all-around, won the floor exercise championship in Sunday’s individual event competition and shared the vault title with LSU’s Rheagan Courville after qualifying as an individual. It was the first NCAA gymnastics title for Arkansas.

“I never thought going into this weekend that I’d be bringing home two national championships and a second-place all-around,” Grable said. “It’s just unbelievable.”

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