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OU women's gymnastics: Well-rested Maggie Nichols dominates in Sooners victory over West Virginia, Texas Woman's University

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Maggie Nichols

Senior Maggie Nichols performs her vault routine during the Sooners meet against West Virginia and Texas Woman’s University Feb. 14.

Just a couple of days before No. 1 Oklahoma's (13-0, 2-0 Big 12) win over West Virginia (6-6, 0-2 Big 12) and Texas Woman's University (4-7) at the Lloyd Noble Center on Friday night, Maggie Nichols said in an interview that she believed resting from the all-around would help her "feel good toward the end of the season."

It benefited her in the short term, too.

The star senior was nothing but spectacular in the Sooners' victory on Friday evening, notching perfect 10s on two of the three events she competed in after only competing on bars in OU's previous meet, propelling the Sooners to a top national score of 198.400.

Nichols first flawless effort came on vault, as she followed strong scores of 9.975 from sophomores Olivia Trautman and Allie Stern, electrifying the crowd of just over 4,000 inside the arena.

Her 20th career 10.0 put the exclamation point on a solid outing from a vault group that scored a program record 49.775 on the event.

"The vault rotation was unbelievable," OU head coach K.J. Kindler said. "These days it's very difficult to earn a school record with the great athletes that have come through these doors and the great performances, so it means even more now knowing that you have to hit so high to get that school record."

Another transcendent achievement was earned on bars in the second rotation, as Nichols stuck another landing in perfect fashion, earning a second 10.0.

With the flawless sum, Nichols tied UCLA senior Kyla Ross for fourth place in NCAA history with 21 career perfect 10s.

Additionally, freshmen Ragan Smith and Vanessa Deniz pitched in 9.9s to help OU extend its lead.

Then it was on to beam, and Nichols vied for a third perfect mark in her final event of the evening. She wasn't able to complete the triad of faultless tallies, settling for a 9.925 to end her night, but her work did serve as a good rebound from her fall in her previous performance on the event against Iowa State on Jan. 31.

"Beam is one of my favorite events," Nichols said, "so I was just excited to go up there and hit a really good routine, which I did, so I'm just really proud of that."

Nichols would rely on her teammates to close out the victory, as Smith led OU on beam with a 9.95, while on floor a 9.95 from junior Anastasia Webb and a 9.925 from Deniz inflated OU's total.

The result was a blowout victory for the Sooners, with West Virginia finishing in second with a 195.575, while TWU took the third place spot with a 193.875.

After the contest, Nichols said the rest she had received in previous meets was good for her, while also noting that the opportunities it provides are important for her teammates' growth.

"Just to take that break and to rest my body, it's great," Nichols said. "It's also great to have my teammates step up and get that experience at other competitions, because it just shows how much depth we have."

Ultimately, Kindler was elated with the outcome of her team's hard work, as the squad produced the third-best score in program history.

"This team score is huge," Kindler said. "We asked them to kind of be on fire tonight, and I think they definitely achieved that, so I'm really excited about this result and about the work that went into it."

The Sooners' next meet will be against No. 25 Stanford in the Perfect 10 Challenge at 6:45 p.m. CT on Friday, Feb. 21 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

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