The Big 12 Gymnastics Championship was more competitive this season than it has been in a long time, with seven-time defending champions and the number one team in the land Oklahoma being seriously challenged by fifth-ranked Denver and a tight race for third expected between Iowa State and West Virginia.

Despite not having a perfect meet, the top-ranked Sooners got the job done at home in Norman to secure the Big 12 Championship title, their eighth straight and 12th overall. Starting off on vault, still without junior superstar Maggie Nichols– who said she hopes to return at regionals- the Sooners had a few bouncy landings with the exception of sophomore Anastasia Webb, who scored a 9.925, to total a 49.35 and trail Denver by .075 through one rotation.

Oklahoma responded with a lights-out uneven bars rotation, with all five counting scores 9.900 or better and an anchor 9.950 routine from Nichols. The Sooners kept it going on balance beam with another six hit routines, with a pair of 9.900s from senior Nicole Lehrmann and sophomore Carly Woodard leading up to another anchor 9.950 from Nichols.

Olivia Trautman celebrates after performing on the floor exercise for the Oklahoma Sooners at the Big 12 Gymnastics Championship in Norman, Oklahoma/Sooner Sports

The struggles came on floor, where an early lineup fall from Emma LaPinta and a start value issue for Jade Degouevia put pressure on senior Brenna Dowell and freshman Olivia Trautman to pull out big scores to keep the Sooner’s streak intact. Both did just that, hitting under tremendous pressure, Dowell with a 9.925 and Trautman anchoring with a near-perfect 9.975 to give the Sooners a final total of 197.575. The Sooners will be thrilled with their title and the fight at the end, but not the performance, as a performance of the same caliber will likely not result in a national title, Oklahoma’s goal at the end of the season.

The number five Denver Pioneers almost pulled off the upset over Oklahoma but settled for second, finishing .325 behind the Sooners with a 197.25. Denver started off strong on bars, scoring a 49.425 to take hold of the lead after the first rotation, led by a 9.925 from Lynzee Brown and a 9.950 from Maddie Karr. A pair of 9.900s from Alexis Vasquez and Kaitlyn Shou led an otherwise relatively shaky beam rotation, scoring a 49.275 and dropping Denver behind Oklahoma at the halfway point.

A solid floor rotation gave Denver a 49.225, with Karr scoring the lone 9.900 of the group, which was enough to put Denver solidly in second but gave up more ground to the Sooners. Denver finished strong on vault, finishing with two huge 9.950s from Karr and Brown to lead the team to a final event total of 49.35 and help them finish strong. Karr also took home the all-around title with a 39.6, just .05 ahead of Brown and Oklahoma’s Webb.

Iowa State had a great competition to finish third, totaling a 195.95 with four solid rotations. Led by all-around competitor Meaghan Sievers, Iowa State was solid across all four events and did not count a fall, with a pair of 9.900s from Sievers and Natalie Ros Vaquer leading their best rotation of the night on the uneven bars, where they scored a 49.2.

West Virginia rounded out the competition with a 195.6, also competing well on all four events. Kirah Koshinski led the team on their highest scoring event, vault, with a huge Yurchenko one-and-a-half for a 9.900, and the team scored a 49.05 on the event. Both Iowa State and West Virginia will also be advancing to regionals, where they will look to continue improving on all four events.

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