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Sooners fall in NCAA semis for first time since 2013

Apr. 18—The goal for the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team was never a secret.

The Sooners wanted to win a national championship, the program's third straight and seventh all-time. Over 15 meets this season, that goal has always seemed very much within reach.

But as it headed to its final event of the day, for the first time over the last seven seasons, Oklahoma had no shot at winning a national title.

After nightmare start to Thursday's NCAA Semifinal, the Sooners responded with some positive moments, but a pair of falls on balance beam sealed their fate.

No. 1 Oklahoma finished with a team score of 196.6625 to finish in third place, missing out on the NCAA finals for the first time in over a decade.

"It wasn't as we scripted it, but we've taken great pride in winning and we're going to take great pride in losing," OU head coach KJ Kindler said on the ESPN broadcast after the meet. "This was character building for this team they fought back hard and it was emotional and I give them all the credit for gutting it out through the end of it."

Still, despite the team's struggles, the Sooners still finished with two gymnasts winning three individual national championships. Audrey Davis was the co-national champion on the uneven bars and split the balance beam individual title with teammate Faith Torrez.

They both posted scores of 9.9625 to become the first Sooner gymnasts to win a title on beam since 2014.

Oklahoma's hopes of advancing to the final day of the season took a major hit after the first rotation. Starting on vault, the Sooners had three uncharacteristic falls to post an event score of 48.3250.

It was almost a full point lower than the team's previous season low this season of 49.175 against Denver. They were in dead-last and trailed second-placed Alabama by 1.1625.

It was already an almost insurmountable deficit even with three events remaining, but the Sooners did their best to bounce back on the uneven bars. They posted the highest bars score at an NCAA semifinal in program history with a 49.6625, but still trailed Florida by 0.9625.

An early fall on balance beam by Ava Siegfeldt meant the Sooners had no more room for error, but another rare mistake by Katherine LeVasseur shut the door on the team's comeback hopes.

Utah and Florida will advance to the NCAA finals on Saturday and will face LSU and California.

Winning a national title is never a given, even for a program as dominant as Oklahoma, but Thursday's result becomes even more shocking when considering how consistent this Sooner team has been. They've broken several NCAA records, including the highest team score in NCAA history, breaking a record that had been held for 20 years.

Kindler said after the meet that this year's squad was the most consistent team she's ever coached.

They entered the meet having posted a score of 198 or higher in 12 straight meets and has had a score of 198.300 or higher in nine straight meets. No team in NCAA history has ever posted scores of 198.300 more than two consecutive times.

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com