Maggie Nichols' scores of 10.0 in consecutive meets have headlined a solid vault group that has greatly contributed to OU's success this season.
No. 1 Oklahoma's star performer has been nothing short of perfect out of the fifth slot of head coach K.J. Kindler's lineup, which might lead some to overlook the exceptional athlete who runs right after her.
Although junior gymnast Evy Schoepfer may be the last to compete in OU's talented set of six on vault, her role is definitely not last in importance. In fact, her job might be one of the most important of them all.
Schoepfer is the anchor for the Sooners, making up for her teammates' lost points by leaving it all out there on the apparatus. It's a responsibility she's come to embrace in her first season as a starter for OU.
Working behind Nichols, she's quietly had two very impressive performances in a row herself, setting a career high of 9.925 in Oklahoma's win over Alabama last Friday, then posting a solid 9.85 in OU's home opener win over Arkansas on Monday.
In both of these scenarios, Schoepfer's scores were much needed in order to make up for other gymnast's marks. She believes this new role of filling the gap has come easily because of her hard work in practice.
"We're really consistent in the gym, and so we just do the same thing every day, and it's no different when we get to the meet," Schoepfer said. "So we just kind of do what we always do, and keep it really consistent, and that helps our team."
A positive, team-oriented attitude has also aided Schoepfer in her performance this season. While many in her situation might be frustrated about always following a larger-than-life star like Nichols, she considers her location in the lineup to be a strength.
"Honestly, I think it helps me," Schoepfer said. "I just want to keep it rolling for the team, and so I think her nailing that 10 vault really helps me rise to the occasion and do better than I would have without that."
Always looking for ways in which she can make her team better, the ever-confident artist is already preparing to take on more responsibilities next year, or maybe even later this season.
Schoepfer is most seasoned on floor, an event in which she competed 10 times as a freshman, and four times as a sophomore. With this prior experience and a true love for all four events in hand, she's ready to take her contributions to another level.
"I'm definitely looking to fill more positions on other events," Schoepfer said. "I'm training all-around... any event I can get in."
As the coming departures of Nichols and other senior Jade Degouveia loom large, Kindler may look no farther than Schoepfer for an ample replacement next season.