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April 20, 2014

Sooners vault to program’s first women’s gymnastics national championship

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — It’s probably not the way Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler drew it up.

Probably, in her mind’s eye, when she saw the program she’s taken to the NCAA championships so many different times finally claim national supremacy, she saw her team alone at the top.

Apparently, there’s room for two. Not so strangely, it’s all right.

Though each team had to wait, defending champion Florida and Oklahoma became the first co-champions in NCAA women’s gymnastics history, with scores of 198.175 in the Super Six showdown on Saturday night.

They shared the win and the podium after a few minutes of wondering if there was some method for breaking a tie.

“We just sat in limbo for quite some time until someone with really good authority came and told us there was no tiebreaker,” Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler said.

Florida finished with a pair of 9.95s on the floor exercise and Oklahoma also had two on the vault to overtake Alabama. Neither team seemed to mind sharing.

“Personally, I think a tie is one of the best ways to do it,” said Florida star Bridget Sloan, a 2008 Olympian. “Not only did we get this incredible score, but there’s no reason to break a tie when both teams did phenomenal.

“A tiebreaker kind of ruins that feeling of being accomplished. Not only are we repeating, but we’re making history.”

LSU finished third at 197.60 followed by Alabama, which held a slight lead before having to count a fall on the balance beam on the final rotation.

The Gators captured their first title last season.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, had been waiting a long time for its championship moment. The Sooners finished in the top three in three of the past four years, including a pair of runner-up finishes.

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