After the first event, Oklahoma was tied with top-ranked Michigan.
It was a good start, but the Sooners needed to be separated. They got that and more with the range of bars.
Danielle Sievers kicked things off with a 9.925, Ragan Smith scored the same and the other four Sooners in the bars formation scored a 9.975 lineout to give the team a .375 lead heading into the third event.
Bar performance didn’t just make the difference in Friday’s encounter. It also finished as the most successful bar formation in program history for the No. 2-ranked Sooners, who used that momentum to earn a 198.475–197.900 win over the nation’s top-ranked team.
The 9.975 bars scores of Jordan Bowers, Katherine Levasseur, Audrey Davis and Karrie Thomas are all tied for the best score of the meet. OU coach KJ Kindler has been adamant that the Sooners’ bar lineup is the best in the nation, and it showed against the Wolverines.
“I can’t say enough about the [bars lineup]said Kindler. “You just felt that kind of elation, and everyone was feeding off each other. Obviously, as the #1 barre team for most of the year, we had hit some great barre routines with great technique, but our landings hadn’t quite been timed. But not today. Today, we have reached five out of six. Very important to us right now. That’s really what made the difference.
“[There wasn’t] only one 10 in there, and I think there could have been. But 9.975 is good too, so we’re very excited about that. Those blocked landings made a huge difference, and I still believe the starter sets the tone. So Danny Sievers, sticking his takedown bar, kind of started a fire.
The bars performance gave the Sooners momentum for the rest of the competition.
The Sooners posted a team score of 49.525 in the balance beam formation, giving them a .125 advantage over the Wolverines in the third event. They capped it all off in the floor event, scoring a 49.675 to seal the victory and edged Wolverines in three of the four events.
“I was personally a little apprehensive about going to beam because of the sheer excitement that was going on in the bars,” Kindler said. “There was a lot of emotion, and I know on the beam we have to be calm. We need to settle down. So I was a bit worried that they would depreciate, that they would connect. But no need to worry because they were all absolutely on track.
There was another big moment for the Sooners before the bars event.
Bowers, a freshman, had her top 10 on vault, which helped draw the Sooners even with the Wolverines after the first event. She ended her day with a 9.975 on bars and a 9.950 on floor.
“It was huge,” Kindler said. “Because we had those first two jumps and they were good, but I knew we had to capitalize on that event. She brought that first jump like that and that 10, it was extremely important for our score.
It was a big win for the Sooners (11-2), who suffered a narrow loss to No. 3 Florida last week. The Wolverines also beat the Sooners in a close game in the national championship last season.
“It’s definitely a confidence factor for them, bringing in the No. 1 team in the country and it was a solid win,” Kindler said.
Jesse Crittenden is The Transcript’s sports editor and covers OU athletics. Contact him at [email protected] or 405-366-3580