FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma won its fifth NCAA women’s gymnastics title on Saturday, rallying from last after the first rotation to first place in the end behind a stellar performance by junior Ragan Smith.
The Sooners posted a team score of 198.200, just ahead of Florida at 198.075. Utah finished third at 197.750 while Auburn and defending Olympic champion Sunisa Lee finished their best season in program history finishing fourth.
A year after finishing a narrow second behind Michigan, the Sooners surged back to the top after a lackluster performance on a floor exercise left them trailing. Oklahoma responded by posting the best scores on each of the last three events, including a set of steel on beam as Florida closed the gap on the floor exercise just yards away.
Florida senior and NCAA all-around champion Trinity Thomas posted the competition’s only perfect 10 with a brilliant performance on the floor to bring the Gators within a tenth of a point.
The buzz of Thomas’ score sent a jolt through the crowd and with the deafening music, Smith leaped onto the beam and calmly delivered a steady and stoic set, seemingly immune to the stakes. The 2017 USA Gymnastics All-Around Champion ran towards her teammates after sticking her dismount. When his score of 9.9625 – which included 10s from two of six judges – the Sooners erupted after realizing it was enough to bring home a championship they narrowly missed last season.
Lee, the first Olympic all-around gold medalist to compete collegially, finished her first season in style. His total of 36.250 was the second best of the day behind Thomas, just like in Thursday’s semifinals.
Lee’s future is unknown. The 19-year-old plans to return to top-flight competition but it’s not yet clear when that will happen. With the Paris 2024 Olympics just over two years away, it will likely be sooner rather than later.
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