Potential Lineups: Oklahoma

By Caroline Medley


Today we tackle the reigning national champions, the Oklahoma Sooners! After losing a key class of graduating seniors, including Maile’ana Kanewa, Keeley Kmieciak, Hunter Price and Haley Scaman, OU will have significant ground to makeup to repeat last year’s success. However, with three stellar freshmen and the return of Brenna Dowell, the Sooners should have no trouble doing so.

Kmieciak, Price and Scaman were all key players on vault, with both Price and Scaman contributing 10.0 start values. However, there should be no trouble at all getting some difficulty back into the lineup. Chayse Capps, Charity Jones, Nicole Lehrmann and Alex Marks are all expected to return
Yurchenko fulls, though it would not be surprising to see Capps or Jones upgrade in their senior season. AJ Jackson will bring back her Yurchenko 1.5, and Dowell should again have at least a 1.5 to contribute after taking last season off to try to qualify for Rio. Of the freshmen, both Jade Degouveia and Brehanna Showers compete the Yurchenko full, with Showers having the better landings of the two. And

though Maggie Nichols has competed both the Yurchenko double and 2.5 this past elite season, it’s likely she’ll downgrade either to the full or the 1.5 to allow for cleaner form and more consistent landings. If it’s the latter, that would give Oklahoma three 10.0 start values right off the bat, with room for improvement throughout the season.

On the bars, the Sooners will again miss contributions from Kmieciak and Scaman, but they will gain some key routines as well. Dowell scored a 10.0 on bars in her first year at OU. Now that she’s

returned with even more elite experience under her belt, she’ll be looking to duplicate that success. Nichols also excelled on bars in elite competition and should definitely be in the running for a lineup spot. Degouveia’s high-flying Jaeger and effortless swing could definitely put her in contention as well. And Showers was seen training a Markelov on the Sooners’ Instagram account. Capps, Jackson,

Lehrmann, Stefani Catour and McKenzie Wofford will all be looking to return to the lineup after contributing high-scoring routines last season. With this much talent in the field, coach K.J. Kindler will have a lot of crucial decisions to make.

The only loss the Sooners face on beam is Kmieciak, but they will have fewer good options to fill her slot. Nichols and Dowell both had passable routines as elites, but if they have a weak event, it would be beam. Showers is definitely training beam, as seen in some Instagram updates, but it’s hard to say what she’ll be able to contribute, as she was out for all of 2015 with a major injury. Her only three meets of 2016, though, show promise for her on the event — she won the beam title at two of the three. However, many veterans will return with strong routines, including beam queen Capps, who’s training a front gainer aerial to scale. Other Sooners hoping to return to the lineup include Catour, Jackson, Jones, Lehrmann, Natalie Brown and Kara Lovan.

On floor, coach Kindler will again have tough decisions to make. Even after losing Kmieciak and Scaman, six Sooners will return from last year’s lineups, in addition to the return of Dowell. Brown,

Marks and Dowell have all competed E level passes in the past, and it looks like some others are training E passes as well. All three freshmen could be great choices for a floor lineup as well, with Degouveia and Nichols both boasting multiple E passes. Between these five gymnasts, the lineup could have three front double fulls, a double front pike, a double arabian and full-ins in both tucked and piked positions. If the Sooners

can keep their execution as flawless as last year, they should have no trouble being the top floor team two years in a row.

Though Oklahoma has not always been known for its all arounders, it finished the 2016 season with two gymnasts in the top 20 in Capps and Kmieciak. With Kmieciak gone, that opens up the field a little more. AJ Jackson competed all four twice last season with great success, earning 39.5 on both occasions. She’s definitely a likely contender again this season. Dowell and Nichols are also both options with their plethora of international elite experience. But both have a weak spot on beam. They’ll have to fight hard for a spot in that lineup if they want to compete all four. In addition, both Lehrmann and Jones competed three events apiece last year, with Lehrmann’s weakness being floor and Jones’ bars. If they can find a way to turn these events into strengths, they have a great shot at becoming all arounders as well.

Come back tomorrow when we take a look at the West Virginia Mountaineers, who’ve been steadily improving over the last few years and will look to continue the trend. For more on lineups in the 2017 season, find our page here, our previous series here, or other posts in our Big 12 series:

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