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OU women's gymnastics: Sooners defeat Iowa State in Big 12 opener despite uncharacteristic mistakes

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Ragan Smith

Freshman Ragan Smith performs on floor during the Sooners' meet against Iowa State Jan. 31.

No. 1 Oklahoma's (10-0, 1-0 Big 12) 197.600-195.000 Big 12 opener win over No. 16 Iowa State (3-3, 0-1 Big 12) at the Lloyd Noble Center on Friday night was not without its ups and downs, but the Sooners delivered a convincing victory nonetheless.

"Today just felt a little bit weird to me," OU head coach K.J. Kindler said. "I didn't think we were very disciplined in what we did."

For the most part, OU was solid on vault to begin the contest, forging a strong advantage thanks to a 9.975 from junior Anastasia Webb and scores of 9.925 from senior Maggie Nichols, junior Evy Schoepfer and sophomore Allie Stern.

The Sooners performed well on bars, too, as senior Jade Degouveia notched a 9.975 while Nichols netted a 9.95, and freshman Ragan Smith posted a 9.9.

Beam was a slightly different story, as OU struggled to stick dismounts. While Smith and Webb earned 9.95s, others didn't fare as well.

Perhaps the most surprising mistake of the evening came from Nichols, who fell off the balance beam during the third rotation.

It was the first time she had made that mistake since the NCAA championship preliminary in her freshman year.

"She made a technical error," Kindler said. "She's so cat-like in the air that even when she's not right over the beam, she usually pulls up just fine. In this case, she didn't."

The unexpected blunder served to somewhat deflate OU's morale, as the team failed to react in the way Kindler had envisioned.

"I don't think we responded well at all," Kindler said. "Mistakes happen. The problem is, when they happen so rarely, they seem to affect you greater, and I really think it did affect our team tonight."

On floor, the issues with footing continued. Freshman Vanessa Deniz and Degouveia led OU with 9.850s, while Webb, a typically steady floor presence, took an unexpected tumble during her routine.

Yet, even with their errors, the Sooners still brought home a sizable win. It wasn't as flashy a victory as on the occasions where OU has posted scores of 198 and above this season, but to Kindler it wasn't the final score that mattered.

"It wasn't about that," Kindler said. "It's about every time we go out there, we're trying to be better than ourselves. And so, tonight, we just weren't better than ourselves."

While the team as a whole was not at its best in the contest, there were still some individual performances to celebrate.

Deniz continued to improve in her second career meet, giving Oklahoma key contributions on both bars and floor.

Sophomore Olivia Trautman returned to beam for the first time this season, and she posted a steady mark of 9.85 while logging a 9.875 on bars.

Smith's score on beam was a career high, and she also delivered steady performances on floor and bars for Oklahoma.

Even amid the Sooners' struggles, there were still moments of success. 

Ultimately, Kindler said she believes nights like these are beneficial to her squad's continued growth and improvement.

"We know that in areas we failed, and that's good for our team because we don't lose that often," Kindler said. "We just need to be better as a group."

The Sooners' next chance to revamp their efforts will be against Texas Woman's University at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, Feb. 9 in Denton, Texas.

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