Oklahoma 2017

Chayse Capps
  • BB star, staple of VT, FX in first three seasons
  • Added UB in 2016 and was casually amazing
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.955, UB – 9.920, FX – 9.915, VT – 9.875
Reagan Hemry
  • Has not performed competition routine in first three seasons
Charity Jones
  • Finally healthy enough to contribute weekly VT, BB, FX in 2016
  • Also contributed late-season UB in 2014
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.910, VT – 9.880, BB – 9.860
Kara Lovan
  • A staple of VT, BB, FX in first two years, did not make final lineups in 2016
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.665, FX – 9.413
Nicole Turner
  • Transfer from Oregon State for 2016 season
  • Has not competed for Oklahoma
  • Top UB routine in 2016
  • Occasional tantalizing BB w/ falls earlier in career
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.950
Natalie Brown
  • Weekly member of BB, FX lineups in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.910, FX – 9.890
Stefani Catour
  • Made final BB lineup in 2016
  • Competed UB once for 9.925
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.850
Samantha Craus
  • Has not performed competition routine in first two seasons
Ali Jackson
  • Top routine on VT, FX in first two years
  • Added weekly UB and backup BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.940, FX – 9.920, UB – 9.875
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.800
Brenna Dowell
  • Deferred 2016 to compete at Olympic Trials
  • Leading score on VT, UB, FX in 2015
  • 2015 RQS: FX – 9.945, UB – 9.910, VT – 9.890
Nicole Lehrmann
  • Staple of UB, BB lineups in 2016
  • Also provides backup VT
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.915, BB – 9.875
  • 2016 average: VT – 9.813
Alex Marks
  • Frequent VT in 2016
  • Competed FX once for 9.700
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.835
  • Did not compete in freshman season
  • American Twisters
  • 2015 JO Nationals 3rd AA
Maggie Nichols
  • Twin City
  • 2016 Olympic Trials 6th AA
  • 2015 World Championship team, 2015 Nationals 2nd AA
  • The effing Maggie Nichols
Brehanna Showers
  • R Athletics MI
  • 2014 Region 5 champion, 2013 JO Nationals 2nd AA
  • Name is complete sentence, and good hygiene.

Recent History
2016 – 1st
2015 – 3rd
2014 – 1st
2013 – 2nd
2012 – 7th
2011 – 3rd
2010 – 2nd

As a team, Oklahoma has achieved pretty much everything there is to achieve in college gymnastics—including now winning a national championship outright—but one thing Oklahoma hasn’t done before is enter a season as the clear favorite and presumed winner of the title, a team that can only meet expectations not exceed them, a team with nothing to gain and everything to lose. So have fun with that. Don’t worry about it, just anything short of absolute perfection and constant victory culminating in a championship will be a tragic disappointment to everyone. It’s fine.

The coaches, me, and the readers of this site (you know, the big three) all agree that Oklahoma is the most talented team and should win a third title. So let’s get into why.

Top returners – Jackson (9.940), Dowell (9.890), Jones (9.880), Capps (9.875)
Returning options – Marks (9.835), Lehrmann (9.813)

Oklahoma will not have as many 10.0 starts as several of the other title-contending teams, which would be cause for mild concern if not for the scores expected from the big three 10.0s Oklahoma does have. Maggie Nichols, Ali Jackson, and Brenna Dowell will anchor the lineup with 1.5s that should all be among the best 1.5s we see this season. Dowell did have some trouble controlling the landing of her 1.5 in her first season, but she still went 9.9 more times than not, which is what I expect from all three. The presence of Nichols and Dowell should mean that Oklahoma improves on last year’s vault scores even without the 10.0 starts from Scaman and Price.

Chayse Capps and Charity Jones also return from last year’s final lineup, and I expect to see them both again. Capps has the best distance on her full and should go 9.850-9.900, while Jones was a master of sticking in the leadoff spot (most of the time) last season. It may be a fight, then, between Marks and Lehrmann to see who has the cleanest landings to earn the final lineup position. There’s not a ton of depth here (though that’s not the extent of the options, with DeGouveia showing a very fine full in JO as well), but it should be enough to get the job done and expect 49.4s. Despite the exciting back three of Oklahoma’s lineup, the likes of LSU and Florida will hope to use more 10.0 starts to outpace the Sooners on vault, so watch the quality of the landings. Oklahoma needs to win that battle.

Top returners – Wofford (9.950), Capps (9.920), Lehrmann (9.915), Dowell (9.910)
Returning options – Catour (9.925), Jackson (9.875)

Just stop. I was mildly concerned about Oklahoma’s competitiveness on bars last season, not understanding the plan to take Capps and Jackson, both of whom were pretty rough on bars the last time we had seen them try, and turn them into nationally competitive bars stars. Well fine.

This year, the additions of Nichols and Dowell mean there’s no such concern about Oklahoma’s supply of scores. There’s a bit of a surplus. Poor Reagan Hemry and Samantha Craus are never getting a chance. Nichols, Wofford, and Dowell will be the big three here, all of whom should get minimum 9.900s and probably more. The main thing we’ll all be watching is whether Wofford can finally get that 10 or if she’ll be relegated to weekly 9.950s (pitiful) once again in her senior year.

Unfortunately for the other teams, that’s not the limit of Oklahoma’s 9.9 potential on bars. Capps suddenly started throwing them down all over the place last season, and while Nicole Lehrmann has sort of been the unheralded member of this lineup, she has exceptional handstands and would be the gem of most teams. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this lineup can get five 9.9s and is the strongest in the country. UCLA will expect to have a go at Oklahoma with the Ross/Kocian/Peng lineup, but the strength of bars compared to the other contending teams is still Oklahoma’s best argument for being the presumptive #1.

For that sixth spot in the lineup…it probably doesn’t matter? Sophia Loren? The cast of Driving Miss Daisy? A handful of almonds? Stefani Catour went once last season for 9.925, so that’s auspicious. Plus, we know Jackson can go 9.850-9.875 in the leadoff spot based on last year, though she may not be needed this time around because my diamond vault has too many diamonds in it. DeGouveia will be in the mix as well, and Brehanna Showers would have been in the mix but has a possible arm injury right now, so I’m thinking…less?

Top returners – Capps (9.955), Brown (9.910), Lehrmann (9.875)
Returning options – Jones (9.860), Catour (9.850), Jackson (9.800), Lovan (9.665)

Last year’s Oklahoma beam lineup was very good, obviously, but it wasn’t completely vintage Oklahoma beam from spots 1-6. There were some moments of “are we sure about that leap series?” and “that was pretty 9.825” that we don’t expect from this team, which is only to say that even though Oklahoma returns five of the six beam workers from last postseason, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see some more significant recasting of the lineup here and there.

Of course, Chayse Capps. The end. Let’s also discuss Natalie Brown. Brown has gone from being the random walk-on with good leaps who might bust into the beam lineup as an injury replacement to a gymnast who would have one of the most talked-about beam routines in the country if she weren’t on the same team as Chayse Capps. As on bars, Lehrmann is sort of quietly hanging around being lovely and getting 9.9s, and she’ll do so again. Also, Maggie Nichols remains Maggie Nichols. We may not end up talking about beam as much as her other three events, but come on.

Brenna Dowell is still two seasons away from becoming Senior Who Finally Figured Out Beam, I guess we’ve all given up on seeing Wofford on beam (even though rrrrrrrrrrrr), and Kara Lovan is now witness protection-y for some reason, so just remember that you definitely won’t be satisfied with this lineup. If you’d like to amplify that dissatisfaction, please join me on team Alex Marks.

Otherwise, Catour has continued to improve on beam, and Jones was 5th up for high 9.8s throughout the season last year. They’ll provide the opportunity to keep the lineup the same as last year if Oklahoma so chooses, just with Nichols instead of Kmieciak. Beam is a very competitive event this season, so in spite of the Sooners’ extremely high quality here, this may not be where they pull ahead of the other teams because of what UCLA, LSU, and Alabama can also do. Still, Oklahoma will record huge and insane scores (it’s Oklahoma and beam) and will be in the mix for a #1 ranking.

I’m happy to see that Nichols is dismounting with a double back since the rest of the lineup can get a little meh in the dismount-difficulty department. Lots of gainers. Lots of 1.5s. It’s not something that shows up in the scores, but it is something that would be irritating if Oklahoma’s beam routines weren’t so pleasant to watch.

Top returners – Jackson (9.920), Capps (9.915), Jones (9.910), Brown (9.890)
Returning options – Marks (9.700), Lovan (9.412)

Of the four events, the floor lineup seems the most straightforward to me. Add Nichols and Dowell to the returning four from last year’s postseason lineup, and you’re done. Goodbye forever. While the lineup seems pretty cut and dry, there are some composition choices to be made. Nichols is going with the piked full-in as her primary pass, which makes sense and should see her slide right into the Scaman role in the lineup, and presumably Dowell will be on the double front train again since those are her signature passes. She had a high-profile landing-control issue in Super Six in 2015, but those passes work for her most of the time.

Speaking of landing-control issues in Super Six 2015, Jackson also had those, then in 2016, stepped down her tumbling difficulty quite significantly for bodily preservation reasons. She still scored tremendously well because of landing control and amplitude, but her 2016 tumbling was a little repetitive and unremarkable. I’d like to see her tumble at her own ability level again in 2017. Capps‘ routine has never been about the tumbling, but she has the option of opening with either a double pike or a double layout and will hold us in suspense. Typically, she drops down to the double pike in order to get the scores. You’re allowed to do that without people rolling their eyes when you’re Chayse Capps. Though I do hope we’ll see more than just Nichols and Dowell in the big-tumbling department this season.

In the other two spots, Natalie Brown was the top-scoring floor leadoff in the country last season with a front 2/1, and Charity Jones looks to be continuing her personal tradition of “you know how white people be dancing like…”-themed floor routines for a likely role in the lineup again. Jones was a big tumbler back in JO and pre-20,000-injuries days, but she seems to have settled on the back 2.5 as her primary pass now. Last season, Oklahoma used its secure landings and famous choreography to be the top-scoring floor team, and I’d expect this lineup to have similar scoring potential.

As backups, Jade DeGouveia has a double Arabian, Alex Marks filled in once toward the end of last year, and Nicole Turner from Oregon State got into the mix at Oklahoma’s public intrasquad, so maybe we will see a routine or two from her as a Sooner after all.

Where Oklahoma really jumps ahead of the other schools right now is in the absence of a weakness. There’s no warning-sign event, nothing that looks like it will be a problem where tenths are dropped. Sure, not every event is going to be #1 in the country. I can see LSU beating Oklahoma on vault. I can see UCLA beating Oklahoma on beam. Yet across four events, Oklahoma looks the strongest and the most likely to go 49.4 on all four at the same time.

More specifically, the path to victory would seem to go through bars. That lineup can score ridiculously and can distance Oklahoma from a pack that could challenge on most of the other pieces. The contending SEC teams will want to make this a fight about difficulty and depth on the power events, as that’s an area where they can excel (Oklahoma would be somewhat more compromised by an injury to a star), but until that matters, Oklahoma remains the presumptive favorite.

3 thoughts on “Oklahoma 2017”

  1. “Oklahoma would be somewhat more compromised by an injury to a star”

    That’s a good point. Maggie did spend a good chunk of her elite career injured (2014 and then 2016). I wonder how she’ll be managed health-wise at Oklahoma.

  2. Why is there a girl on the team who hasn’t competed in 3 years? Curious about the coaches reasoning, not just with OU but for several other teams? Ideas?

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