Coming into the 2019 NCAA Gymnastics season as defending runner-ups and pre-season number two, Oklahoma may have started second best but after a month of action so far this season, the Sooners are the unequivocal number one. Heading to Fort Worth, Texas and the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, the site of this year’s NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, the Sooners came to the Metroplex Challenge with one clear goal: proving again why they are the best team in the nation.
Against a strong field of opponents from the Big 12 and SEC, Oklahoma once again claimed the Metroplex Challenge title, dominating the meet with a huge 197.975 over Denver in second and Missouri and Arkansas in third and fourth, respectively.
For Oklahoma, the Sooners, former Metroplex Challenge champions, began on vault, with an incredible first rotation counting no scores below 9.875 including 9.900s from freshman star Olivia Trautman and senior Jade Degouveia to go with a 9.950 on a nearly perfect Yurchenko one-and-a-half from Brenna Dowell.
Moving to the uneven bars in rotation two and the Sooners saw the return of defending NCAA all-around champion Maggie Nichols, returning to bars and beam this week after an injury two weeks ago against Georgia. On the bars, Alex Marks and Nicole Lehrman swung with ease to 9.900s while Nichols delivered a big 9.925 in the anchor spot. Oklahoma kept the momentum going in front of a heavy Sooner crowd in Fort Worth in the third rotation, continuing to post big scores on beam with a 9.900 from Brehanna Showers, a 9.925 from Anastasia Webb, and a near flawless 9.975 from Nichols once again.
The Sooners wrapped up their competition on the floor exercise, their lowest event this season, posting their highest total on any event of the night thanks to some incredible performances. Webb’s beautiful presentation and style earned her a 9.875 in the leadoff spot, while while Showers, Degouveia, Dowell, and Trautman rounded out the rotation all with stunning 9.925s of their own to total a very strong 197.975 for Oklahoma.
Finishing second to Oklahoma, Denver put together a very solid competition to score a 196.350. Kaitlyn Schou got the Pioneers started on floor with a 9.875 and Maddie Karr and Lynzee Brown flew on vault each for big 9.900s on their powerful Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs. Karr kept up her great night with a 9.950 on the bars before former elite Alexis Vasquez rounded out the meet for Denver on the beam with a 9.950 of her own.
Missouri also remained consistent throughout the competition, scoring a solid 196.200 to finish just behind Denver for third. Britney Ward got things going for the Tigers on her signature event, the balance beam, going 9.875 before repeating that mark on the vault two rotations later. Aspen Tucker posted a 9.900 on the vault to help lift Missouri to third and Madeleine Huber shined as well with a 9.900 on bars.
It was a tough outing for Arkansas, a team qualifier to nationals last year, finishing fourth in this competition after an up-and-down performance for a slightly disappointing 195.825. Freshman Kennedy Hambrick provided a spark for the Razorbacks in the first rotation with her 9.875 on bars before Jessica Yamzon did the same for Arkansas on the beam, only to be one-upped by teammate Michaela Burton‘s 9.900. The Gymbacks began to improve over the final two rotations- breaking 49 on both floor and vault- and Sarah Shaffer‘s 9.875 and Sydney McGlone‘s 9.900 helped get that late rally started on floor. Finishing the meet on the vault, McGlone and Amanda Elswick both posted 9.875s to close Arkansas’ disappointing night.Tags: 2019 Metroplex Challenge, Alex Marks, Alexis Vasquez, Amanda Elswick, Anastasia Webb, Arkansas, Arkansas Razorbacks, Aspen Tucker, Brehanna Showers, Brenna Dowell, Britney Ward, Denver, Denver Pioneers, Jade DeGouveia, Kaitlyn Schou, Kennedy Hambrick, Lynzee Brown, Maddie Karr, Madeleine Huber, Maggie Nichols, Metroplex Challenge, Michaela Burton, Missouri, Missouri Tigers, NCAA Gymnastics, Nicole Lehrman, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Sooners, Olivia Trautman, Sarah Shaffer, Sydney McGlone