APTOPIX NCAA Womens Championships Gymnastics

Oklahoma’s Anastasia Webb celebrates with her teammates after her vault Friday during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships. Webb won the individual all-around title.

Immediately following Oklahoma’s Friday night triumph, K.J. Kindler spoke with her gymnast, who stole the show.

OU senior Anastasia Webb earned the all-around national championship, as well as event titles on vault and floor exercise. Her efforts helped OU score a 198.0975, the highest of any team in either semifinal session and more than plenty to send the Sooners to Saturday’s final round.

Kindler saw a different Webb than what she’s accustomed to on the first night of the NCAA championships and informed her of the observation.

“A lot of times we get to this semifinals night and she tries too hard and she doesn’t need to try hard, she needs to do what she’s trained to do,” Kindler said, “and I think today she really was way more relaxed, letting herself do her gymnastics, not trying to do her gymnastics and that obviously served her well.”

Webb posted a 39.7875 on the all-around to win the event title outright. To get there, she scored a 9.9750, as did LSU’s Haleigh Bryant, to claim a share of the vault national title and received a 9.9625 on floor to share the national crown with Alabama’s Lexi Graber and Utah’s Maile O’Keefe.

During her floor routine, all Webb could focus on was selling the performance and enjoying the moment.

She still isn’t decided yet on a return to Norman, made possible by the NCAA’s blanket COVID-19 eligibility waiver. She was recently accepted into a health administration master’s program and will decide on her future after the team’s weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, is over.

As for Friday, Webb solidified herself as one of OU’s all-time greats. She’s the first Sooner to claim the all-around national championship since Maggie Nichols won in 2018 and ‘19. Before Nichols, Kelly Garrison, who claimed the 1987 and ‘88 title, was the only OU gymnast to achieve the feat.

Plenty of work went into Webb’s performance on Friday, yet she still has a team national title to claim at 2:30 p.m. Saturday with just Florida, Michigan and Utah standing in OU’s path.

Whatever Webb decides after Saturday, she raved about the program that she credits with her development into one of the school’s best.

“It’s been a dream come true,” Webb said. “I’ve worked super, super hard and I’m super happy for every routine I did today. My team did amazing, and I know that we can improve on some of the events and I can’t wait for [Saturday] and for us to shine and be bright.

“I believe we’re destined to win.”

Joe Buettner

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jbuettner@normantranscript.com

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