Unparalleled victory

John Kauffman

Former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach Steve Nunno, who coached veteran Olympian Shannon Miller to seven Olympic medals and two world championship titles in the early 1990s, said he was looking for a new challenge when he left elite gymnastics to coach at Oklahoma.

Nunno probably didn’t anticipate the challenge the ISU gymnastics squad would pose to his Sooners on Sunday.

The No. 5 ISU gymnasts put shaky warmups behind them and hit the vault event to beat No. 10 Oklahoma, sweeping all Big 12 competitors and ending a three-year Sooner home winning streak. Iowa State handed final Big 12 opponent Oklahoma a 196.775-195.675 home loss.

Though the Cyclones came out with an impressive victory, head coach K.J. Kindler said the team still had to fight for consistent performances on all four events to notch the win.

“While bars was our best performance of the year and vault was a total team effort, beam and floor were not our best,” Kindler said. “We have more in us; I’m positive of that.”

With the Sooners ranked as the nation’s No. 1 team on uneven bars, the Cyclones knew they would have to have a strong performance in the event to take the competition, Kindler said.

They did exactly that.

“We came out on fire on bars, and everybody hit,” Kindler said.

Senior Gabby Layne had a small miss but was able to recover and earn a solid score, while sophomore Erin Dethloff hit her best bars performance of the year, Kindler said.

“There was a lot of pressure going in, and I needed to hit. I haven’t hit the way I knew I could in our past meets, so it was a big step for me, and it set the tone for the rest of the meet,” Dethloff said after winning the event with a 9.925.

By the end of the first rotation, the Cyclones had posted a bars score of 49.25, leaving them .125 behind the Sooners’ second rotation score. After a poor showing on vault by the Sooners, it was up to Iowa State to capitalize, but a shaky warm up on the event left the Cyclones in doubt, Kindler said.

“We had a rough warm up. We’ve had great warm ups at all our meets, so [the poor warm up] was a bit of a struggle,” Kindler said.

Sophomore Laura-Kay Powell said the team members were not happy with themselves after the warm ups, but a pep talk from Kindler helped turn their attitudes around.

“We got together and talked about how we had to put the warm up behind us, and the girls had to do it the way they know how to do it,” Kindler said. “They did it and came out a different team.”

The Cyclones swept the event with the meet’s top three vault scores: Freshman Janet Anson first (9.925), Powell second (9.90) and Dethloff third (9.875).

In the final rotation, the Cyclones were outscored by the Sooners by one tenth of a point on floor exercise, despite a first place finish tie by Dethloff and sophomore Krystal Carney (9.875). The Cyclones clinched the title by scoring .425 better than the Sooners on beam, where Powell tied for first (9.90) and Dethloff and junior Susan Stock tied for third (9.85).

The consistency also paid off for the Cyclones in the all-around competition. Dethloff and Powell posted season-high totals of 39.525, 39.475, respectively to take first and second place, while Anson took fourth with a score of 39.20.

Though the night wasn’t perfect, Kindler said overcoming the pressure on the bars and vault and staying in the game mentally on the beam and floor demonstrated the potential for this team.

“It was great to go on the road and come out with this kind of a win,” Kindler said.

The win dropped the Sooners to 0-1 in conference action and snapped a 14-meet home winning streak, the Sooners’ first home loss under Nunno.

Kindler said the team will take the wins of all Big 12 competitors in stride and will shift its focus to beating Denver at Hilton Coliseum Friday.