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'This is a loss for us': Sooners beat Iowa State handily but Maggie Nichols' slip is part of an uneven performance

Oklahoma Head Women's Gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler addresses media during the Sooner Caravan at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center on Thursday, May 31, 2018. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World
Oklahoma Head Women's Gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler addresses media during the Sooner Caravan at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center on Thursday, May 31, 2018. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World

NORMAN — By the time OU star Maggie Nichols slipped Friday night and came crashing to the floor instead of gliding along the balance beam, the top-ranked Sooners' win over No. 16 Iowa State was all but sealed.

But OU coach K.J. Kindler could see the looks on her gymnasts’ faces and then saw it during the final rotation in the floor exercise — the Sooners were shaken up by Nichols’ uncharacteristic mistake.

“Honestly, this is a loss for us in what we did,” Kindler said. “We know it. It’s never an individual loss, it’s a team loss and we just need to be better as a group.”

Oklahoma pulled off a dominating 197.600-195.000 win over the Cyclones at Lloyd Noble Center, but Kindler didn’t hide her disappointment.

“We won by 2.5 points. It wasn’t about that. It’s about every time we go out there we’re trying to be better than ourselves,” Kindler said. “So tonight we just weren’t better than ourselves. We just want to be a better us.

“I think people look at wins and losses as — you succeeded or you failed. We, if you look at the sheet, we succeeded greatly but we know that in areas we failed.”

The Sooners followed up the slip with a season-worst 49.125 on the floor.

“I think it was the way we carried ourselves,” freshman Ragan Smith said in response to Kindler’s comments about the disappointment in how the team responded following the mistake.

Nichols, a senior who has a chance to go down as the greatest women’s collegiate gymnast in history, hadn’t fallen since she was a freshman.

That slip came in the preliminaries at the NCAA Championships. The Sooners wound up winning a title the next day.

There us no quick bounce-back opportunity from this.

Nichols didn’t compete on the final rotation as Kindler opted to give her a breather from the all-around as she works to keep Nichols healthy.

“She made a technical error so just fix it,” Kindler said of her approach to Nichols. “She’s so good, 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. It was really unusual for her.

“But we have to be good at failing just as we are good at succeeding and we have to get better at that because we have room for a mistake.”

They had plenty of room for a mistake against Iowa State. The five highest scores of the six competitors in each event count toward the team score and no one on OU’s beam rotation scored less than a 9.800 before Nichols’ slip in the closing spot landed her a 9.225.

But that wiggle room might not be there later in the season.

Related Photos
<strong>University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols poses for a photo on the OU campus in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman</strong>

University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols poses for a photo on the OU campus in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5d62f735fd2ba32c948e84b764b8879d.jpg" alt="Photo - University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols poses for a photo on the OU campus in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman " title=" University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols poses for a photo on the OU campus in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman "><figcaption> University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols poses for a photo on the OU campus in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ba2d7df173d96c794db3528757ed904a.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma Head Women's Gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler addresses media during the Sooner Caravan at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center on Thursday, May 31, 2018. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World " title=" Oklahoma Head Women's Gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler addresses media during the Sooner Caravan at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center on Thursday, May 31, 2018. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World "><figcaption> Oklahoma Head Women's Gymnastics coach K.J. Kindler addresses media during the Sooner Caravan at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center on Thursday, May 31, 2018. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World </figcaption></figure>
Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›

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