The defending champs are going back to their roots this year by bringing in a class of ninja Level 10s as the more famous former elites congregate at other members of the top five.
This is precisely the type of gymnast that helped Oklahoma reach an exalted position in the first place, but one thing you’ll notice about this class is that there are only a handful of routines that you’d slot into an Oklahoma lineup as is. Most of them will be projects, but those projects are exactly what Oklahoma is known for.
The Sooners return excellent scores from last season, though it’s not a team replete with proven options. That means the freshman class of five will be counted on to contribute real, lineup-level routines on several events right from the beginning.
Nichols – 9.955
Dowell – 9.935
Jackson – 9.900
DeGouveia – 9.830
Marks – 9.815
Nichols – 9.960
Lehrmann – 9.910
Dowell – 9.905
Catour – 9.900
Craus – 9.850
Nichols – 9.955
Brown – 9.910
Catour – 9.880
Lehrmann – 9.855
Jackson – 9.825
Nichols – 9.965
Jackson – 9.960
Dowell – 9.910
Brown – 9.870
Webb has been a featured soloist in the JO circuit for the last couple seasons. She won a Region 5 AA title in 2016 and 2017, finished 2nd at JO nationals in 2016, and won vault at JO nationals in 2017 (a miss on bars took her out of the AA title running). She’s very “she’ll be a thing in NCAA.”
Of course, it’s difficult to make a lineup at Oklahoma, so a gymnast can’t just be good on an event. She has to bring something to stand out among the other good options, which is why Webb’s Omelianchik is among the most important routines in the new class. The Sooners return four 1.5s from last season, and Webb’s vault would give them a vital 5th 10.0 start value.
As is, that particular vault is a home 9.850 with the potential to get better. On floor, Webb brings a front 2/1 and a high 2.5—she’s very much a twister more than a flipper—but while in many cases twisting rather than double-flipping is a cover for a lack of power, that’s not really the case with Webb, who has the form and the amplitude to find a place in that lineup.
The routine I’m most interested to see develop, however, is bars. Quite unusually among JO gymnasts, Webb has tremendous bars difficulty with a Shap 1/2, Ray, and double front dismount.
That difficulty makes bars a potential showpiece event for her that can be up with Nichols and Dowell in terms of composition. Form issues will have to be cleaned up, particularly in the toes and the foot separations, to get the routine up to Oklahoma bars level—this exact routine wouldn’t score all that well in NCAA—but those are corrections I would anticipate being made as we go.
If you read live blogs here you know I’m partial to expressions like “feet but good,” meaning it’s overall a well-executed or impressive skill that should receive only minor execution faults compared to the other gymnastics we see, but there should be a deduction for foot form nonetheless. Webb’s bars is very “feet but good,” and there’s a bit of that on beam as well. Still, she has the general leap positions and acro to provide a very solid option. Oklahoma will get four viable routine choices out of Webb.
(Evy like the first syllable in Evelyn, not like ee-vee)
Schoepfer is another very successful JO all-arounder (finishing 2nd at JO nationals this year) who would be competing four events every week on teams outside the top 4 or 5. The question for her making lineups will be Oklahoma’s need rather than her ability, but since Oklahoma does need routines this year, she’s a serious option.
On vault, Schoepfer performs a full, but it’s a high and pretty full. If everything goes to plan, Oklahoma will have five 10.0s and a full in the vault lineup, and Schoepfer would be a good contender for that full spot.
Schoepfer’s highlight difficulty comes on floor, where she opens with a DLO. It’s not the cleanest DLO in the world in the knees and the feet, but it’s a DLO nonetheless and tells us that passes like a double pike will be easy peasy for her. It’s certainly a possibility.
Bars is also very “feet but solid,” with competitive and comfortable NCAA composition (Jaeger, bail, full-in, you’re good to go). It’s a routine you wouldn’t necessarily put in Oklahoma’s top six as is, but she could get there. She’s a much stronger JO bars worker than, say, Chayse Capps or Stefani Catour were in their days.
Beam is probably a similar prospect, with some knees on acro elements that could keep her slightly lower down the depth chart but also more than enough to work with.
Matthews out of CGA has the raw potential to be your latest bars and beam obsession on the Oklahoma team. Exhibit A: She managed to finish 5th on bars at JO nationals this year without even doing a real dismount.
That’s why I say raw potential because…you’re kind of going to need a real dismount (she did compete a connected double tuck in 2016), but that line, that beautiful Pak, and that MG Elite-hips of a Ray MUST become something in NCAA. There’s too much there for it to be hidden from the world.
Matthews also has a case of the pretties in some of those acro elements on beam for a routine that—once again—I could see becoming something as long as the consistency and a reasonably scoring dismount are there.
Matthews does bring a competitive floor routine as well, but as far as the D-pass routine options on this team go, it’s not as comfortable as others and not as likely to be among the top choices.
Draper brings options and potential in the AA, but it’s likely floor and beam where she’d be the most competitive as an option for Oklahoma. So we’ll start there. Draper won a floor title at Texas states in 2016 and typically finishes in the top 5 on FX with a clean and solid double pike set. It’s JO-level tumbling, but it’s well done. She controls those passes and maintains her twisting form throughout. LOTS of people can start with a double pike and end with a rudi, the difference-maker often being how that rudi actually looks. This one looks good.
The crisp side aerial and layout stepout make beam another possibility, the issue being that pretty much everyone is a possibility on beam.
On vault and bars, Draper has the skills to be a potential depth-member (full on vault, Pak and double front on bars) but not yet the overall execution to be someone you’d consider likely to break into an actual Oklahoma lineup.
Woodard was not among Oklahoma’s scholarship signings, but she’s not exactly your typical late-add random either, qualifying for JO nationals this year and showing career bests over 9.5 on most events.
These aren’t GET IT IN THE LINEUP NOW routines, but they are either realistic backups or potential contenders for competition spots. On vault, for example, you wouldn’t have a problem throwing this into a meet.
Woodard has enough in the leaps and the acro on beam for that routine to be in the mix as well, along with a gainer side aerial, which is something a little cool and different.
On floor, where she finished 11th at JO nationals this year, that’s a perfectly solid and efficient double pike that would do nicely in the middle of a lot of lineups.
Even bars, typically her low score in JO that brought down a number of her AA placements, shows potential in the toes on a Jaeger. It’s those crazy-leg giants that would need to be resolved for that routine actually to be a thing. What I’m saying is, don’t completely forget about Woodard.