The Norman Transcript


January 31, 2009

Two sports, one event

Friday night’s Beauty and the Beast joint meet at Lloyd Noble Center was a strange experience.

One of the oddest combinations sports fans are likely to see took place, and pretty much everyone agreed it was a lot of fun to watch the Oklahoma wrestlers compete next to the Sooner women’s gymnastics team.

“A lot of times our guys get frustrated being called the ‘Beauties,’ though,” OU wrestling coach Jack Spates quipped.

The event started with a high-school homecoming-esque parade of athletes, each wrestler escorting a gymnast from the tunnel to the floor while the announcer introduced them.

Then it turned into something altogether unusual. While men were beating and grappling themselves to a pulp on the south side, a gymnastics meet surrounded them with a flurry of movement.

It was speed and power and grace and precision all at once. At first it was a bit hard to follow, but once everyone got used to it, the crowd became more involved.

And the good news was, both home teams won. The Sooner women beat Minnesota 196.500-195.675, and the OU grapplers downed North Carolina State 38-6.

“A lot of times our crowds think they have to be quiet like it’s tennis or something,” OU women’s gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler said. “But you can make noise throughout. I think at this event, they’re a little louder and more involved and that’s good practice for our gymnasts.”

Sometimes, even the announcer seemed to be having a little fun with it.

At one point, after an injury on the mat, he made one of the strangest introductions ever:

“After a tough takedown, there’s an injury timeout on the mat … And now on the uneven bars, Ashleeeeeeey Jackson!”

The idea started at Missouri and Minnesota, which coincidentally was on hand to witness Friday night’s festivities.

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