FORT WORTH, Texas — It’s back to the finals for Oklahoma.
With a first-place finish in NCAA Semifinal II on Friday night, the top-seeded Sooners will make their seventh straight and ninth overall appearance in the team finals. OU posted a score of 197.850 points to take the top spot in the second session of the NCAA Championships at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The Sooners will be joined in the Four on the Floor by No. 5 Denver (197.0375), a Big 12 team in its first championship final.
The two advancing teams from Semifinal I were No. 2 UCLA (197.675) and No. 3 LSU (197.5125).
“Obviously we’re thrilled for this opportunity to advance,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “I’m incredibly proud of our team and our student-athletes. They have just continued to show tremendous character, competitiveness and consistency and we’re incredibly proud.
“I want to congratulate Denver because that was awesome. And it’s great to have a new team in that final night. I’d like to say congratulations to you (Denver). That’s amazing and that’s what our sport is about. That’s what’s great about our sport is that anything can happen. You can work your way up to the top. You can get there.”
OU junior Maggie Nichols defended her all-around crown, taking home the title with a 39.7125. Nichols added a vault title to her collection and has now earned an individual title on three of four events (bars in 2017, 2018; floor in 2018) and the all-around.
She is the OU record holder for most individual career titles with six, breaking a tie with Sooners legend Kelly Garrison.
“It’s so incredible and so special,” Nichols said. “I work really hard in the gym to help my team out as best as I can and to have those titles is so special. Representing the best school in the nation, the University of Oklahoma, is so special to me.”
Senior Brenna Dowell earned a share of the floor title with a 9.95 for her second career individual championship.
“It was definitely exciting,” Dowell said. “I didn’t really expect to come out here and leave with a national title, but it is definitely an honor.”
OU will vie for its fourth NCAA title when it competes in the team finals at 6 p.m. Saturday. It will be broadcast on ESPNU.
“We want to win more than anything,” Nichols said. “That’s been our main focus this whole year. We have worked so hard on little details inside of the gym, toe points, handstands, stuck landings. Outside of the gym we have been working so hard going to the training room, eating heathy, drinking water. Another thing that is so special about this team is that this year we have grown as a family because we have had so many setbacks. ... I am going to leave everything on the floor, everyone is, and we hope to take the national championship.”