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OU women's gymnastics: Sooners embrace road-heavy schedule entering Metroplex Challenge

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Jordan Draper

Sophomore Jordan Draper performs her floor routine March 3.

After weathering two tough meets last Friday and Monday, the No. 1 ranked Sooners will head to Fort Worth Texas to compete in the Metroplex Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 25.

Oklahoma had a quick turnaround after Friday's meet with No. 5 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, as the team had just two days to recuperate for Monday's home opener against No. 19 Arkansas. 

Following the contest against Arkansas, OU head coach K.J. Kindler articulated her pleasure with the squad's ability to recover in such a short period of time. 

"Honestly, I think we did an exceptional job after coming off of Alabama. That was a high emotion meet for us," Kindler said. "We expended a lot of energy, not just physical, but mental and emotional when we were there and so to rebound in two days, and put forth this result, I think says a lot about the endurance of our team." 

Now the Sooners find themselves in a similar situation. After three road meets to open the season, the team is headed back out on the road after competing in just one home meet.

But the Sooners will have had a five-day break by the time they compete, which is an advantage when faced with multiple road games. Junior floor specialist Jordan Draper has been through similar periods before, and in her mind, times like these help more than they hurt.

"I think having those three meets that we started off with that were away right before school started was super helpful," Draper said. "I think it helped the freshmen too. They settled in and understood this is how we do things on the road."

For fellow junior Anastasia Webb, the tough sledding provides other valuable lessons beyond the realm of gymnastics, and helps her to cultivate a positive attitude despite the physical and mental hardship.

"It really teaches you time management and determination and to honestly just keep moving," Webb said. "Yes, it takes a toll on my body, but we do really good rehab and really good therapy, which just helps a lot."

If the Sooners can maintain their endurance through Saturday's meet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Five of OU's next seven competitions after this coming weekend are at home, and another contest in that span will be just down the road at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

Yet to find solace in the weeks on the horizon, Oklahoma must first get through Alabama once again, along with No. 4 Denver and No. 18 Georgia in yet another juggernaut quad meet not unlike what they faced in Anaheim, California in week one.

The Metroplex Challenge is set to begin at 7 p.m. CT Saturday and can be streamed live on FloGymnastics.

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