Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols, a junior from Little Canada, won the all-around for the second straight year in the NCAA championships on Friday night in Fort Worth, Texas. Her score was 39.7125.
Nichols was competing in floor exercise (9.925) and all-around for the first time since Jan. 11 because of injuries. She also tied for first in vault (9.95) with three others. Her two individual titles gave her a career total of six, a Sooners program record.
“It’s so incredible and special,” Nichols said. “I work really hard in the gym to help my team out as best as I can and to have those titles is so special.”
The Gophers’ Lexy Ramler, a sophomore from St. Michael, tied for second (39.6625) in the all-around with UCLA’s Kayla Ross. Ramler also tied for second in uneven parallel bars (9.9375).
Ramler also took fourth on balance beam (9.9125) and fifth in vault (9.925), making her the first Gophers gymnast to be earn All-America honors (top eight) in four events. Ramler’s all-around and bars marks were the highest scores ever by a Gopher at the NCAA meet.
Nichols’ top-seeded Sooners (197.85) were one of four teams advancing to the team finals on Saturday along with defending champion and second-seeded UCLA (197.675), LSU and Denver.
“We want to win more than anything,” said Nichols, who earned All-America honors in five events for the second straight year. “That’s been our main focus this whole year. We have worked so hard on little details inside of the gym, toe points, handstands, stuck landings.
“Outside of the gym we have been working so hard going to the training room, eating heathy, drinking water. Another thing that is so special about this team is that this year we have grown as a family because we have had so many setbacks.”
Oklahoma has won three national titles in the past. The Sooners tied with Florida to win their first NCAA meet in 2014, and won back-to-back outright titles in 2016 and 2017.
“I am so excited for tomorrow and to see how it all unfolds,” Nichols said. “I am going to leave everything on the floor, everyone is, and we hope to take the national championship.”
On Friday, Nichols tied for second on bars with Ramler, tied for sixth on beam (9.9), and tied for seventh in floor exercise (9.925).
U men gymnasts fall short
The Gophers men’s gymnastics team finished fourth (396.059) in the first qualifying session of the NCAA Championship in Champaign, Ill., missing out on one of the top three spots needed to advance to team finals. Nebraska (405.723) got the third spot.
Eight Gophers advanced to Saturday’s individual competition. Among them was sophomore Shane Wiskus, who finished second in the all-around (81.097); he was the national all-around runner-up last year. Senior Justin Karstadt was second on pommel horse (13.933), and senior Vitali Kan tied for first in floor exercise (14.600).
U softball wins
The No. 18 Gophers softball team beat Nebraska 3-0 on Friday night in Lincoln on Amber Fiser’s six-hitter. The junior righthander struck out 13, tying a career high.
Minnesota (30-10, 11-1 Big Ten) scored once in the second inning on Maddie Houlihan’s bases-loaded walk and scored two more runs in the sixth on Hope Brandner’s infield single and Natalie DenHartog’s foul-ball sacrifice fly.
• Starter Sam Thoresen pitched five scoreless innings and Jack Wassel hit a three-run homer in the first as the Gophers beat Oklahoma 8-1 at Siebert Field in nonconference baseball. Riley Smith hit a solo homer for Minnesota (17-18).
• The Gophers women’s golf team was in seventh place (11-over 299) after the first round of the Big Ten meet in Maineville, Ohio. Grace Kellar was tied for seventh a 1-over 73.