NORMAN — Any time there is a matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams, it heightens intensity. Regardless of the sport, fans, players and coaches alike can’t deny there is a different feeling surrounding the program.
That includes No. 1 Oklahoma as it prepares to face No. 2 Florida Friday in a battle of the top two teams in women’s gymnastics. The Gators are also the defending national champion and the team OU finished runner-up to last season.
“This is like, epic,” OU coach K.J. Kindler said. “This is one of those meets you remember for the whole year and that the country really pays attention to. This is definitely going to be one for the record books for us.”
The competition will take place at 6 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on the University of Florida Campus in Gainesville, Fla. Having to face a team that packed in more than 10,000 fans at their first home meet in this type of a fight is a challenge the Sooners say they welcome.
“Any of the top five teams could hold that No. 1 spot,” Kindler said. “It’s really undetermined right now who’s the best team in the nation. We have to go in there and basically execute the way that we can and definitely put up a good fight. They will have an incredible crowd. We expect a volatile environment. We’re just going to have to handle that.”
The Sooners (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) head into the confrontation coming off a tight win over No. 17 Arizona last week and it allowed them to hold on to the No. 1 ranking for another week.
Eight Sooner individuals continued to carve out their own place among the nation’s elite in the rankings, pulling down 12 total appearances in the top 25. OU is represented by team members from every class in the rankings.
That includes Keeley Kmieciak on the vault. She is also looking forward to facing the Gators.
“I expect it to be a great meet,” Kmieciak said. “It’s going to be really close, hopefully, the whole way through. I am expecting some great big scores and great routines from both of us.”
Oklahoma will be without Erica Brewer, who is nursing a sprained elbow. She is expected back in two weeks.
“We need some people to step up this weekend,” Kindler said. “And show us what they’ve got.”
Oklahoma is ranked in the nation’s top-three on three of four individual events, coming in at No. 2 on vault (49.442) and beam (49.275) and third on bars (49.317). OU is also ranked seventh on floor (49.283).
The Gators (3-0, 2-0 SEC) aren’t too shabby either with the likes of Kytra Hunter and Bridget Sloan, who were named SEC Gymnasts of the week. The duo racked up back-to-back 10.0 marks on the floor in Florida’s win over No. 6 Georgia at home.
“Its a No. 1, No. 2 matchup,” Kindler said. “So I really want to see them arrive at the occasion. I want to make sure that our team is in the mental state they need to be in to handle that kind of environment. I want to us have a fight to the finish.”
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