Maggie Nichols competes on vault for Oklahoma. Photograph: YouTube
Alabama competed at Oklahoma on Friday, 6 January.
In my preview to Week 1 I asked whether Alabama would be able to beat Oklahoma. The answer is now known and is no. The Sooners continued their victory sweep against Alabama on Friday night, winning with a score of 197.750 to 196.700.
All eyes were on 2015 world champion Maggie Nichols, who was making her NCAA debut for Oklahoma. Nichols did not disappoint. She won the all around (with an incredible score of 39.725), the uneven bars (9.975) and floor (9.950).
From the very start, Nichols showed all her potential to become an NCAA star. Her performances showed precision, confidence, maturity, poise, as well as fun and a true NCAA spirit – just notice how Nichols threw her head back after each of her landings! Nichols performed nicely on vault, where she performed a nice one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko with a tiny step forward (9.900), and on beam, the only apparatus where she showed minor form breaks (9.900).
But Nichols shined particularly on bars and floor. On the uneven bars, she competed a big Tkatchev, a Shaposhnikova with half turn and a stuck double straight dismount.
Oklahoma's Maggie Nichols competes on bars.
On floor, she performed a full-in pike, a one-and-a-half twist indirectly linked to a double twist and a double pike dismount. Everything was performed with great elegance and precision. A star was born!
Oklahoma's Maggie Nichols competes on floor.
On vault for Oklahoma the highest score was posted by 2015 world champion Brenna Dowell, in what was her NCAA comeback after a two-year return to elite gymnastics. Dowell performed a beautiful one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko and stuck the landing (9.950). It was very impressive! When Brenna first transitioned to NCAA gymnastics, her mind was still in elite gymnastics and she manifestly lacked the passion and team spirit intrinsic in collegiate gymnastics. Her stuck landing on Friday night, however, might be telling a different story. This time Dowell seems more focused on her team, and if she keeps her concentration going, she could become a lock for Oklahoma on vault and uneven bars.
Oklahoma's Brenna Dowell competes on vault.
Oklahoma’s weakest apparatus, beam, was Alabama’s strongest one, and the only one they won. Beam was won by Alabama’s Kiana Winston (9.950), who performed a very poised routine, which included a very intricate mount, a stuck double tuck dismount and Aliya Mustafina’s 2013 beam acro series: free walkover into back handspring.
Alabama's Kiana Winston competes on beam.
Kiana Winston was also very impressive on the uneven bars (she was second with 9.900). She performed a very clean routine with superb body lines and one of the best ever Pak saltos.
Alabama's Kiana Winston competes on bars.
Also very impressive on beam was Alabama’s Nickie Guerrero (9.875), who performed an excellent back handspring to two layout step-outs, a rarely done combination in NCAA gymnastics, and a stuck one-and-a-half twisting dismount.
Alabama's Nickie Guerrero competes on beam.
2014 world champion Madison Desch made her NCAA debut for Alabama on floor, where she scored a 9.650. Unfortunately no video of her routine is available, but we will hopefully see more of her later on in the season.
More NCAA recaps are coming, check them out!
By Talitha IlacquaAdvertisement