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UCLA, Oklahoma highlight college women’s gymnastics championships in Fort Worth

Defending national champion UCLA and top-ranked Oklahoma highlight the field of the 2019 Women’s National Collegiate Gymnastics Championships being held Friday and Saturday at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

The Sooners are considered the favorite to win their fourth team title having not lost a meet all season. OU, led by 2018 all-around champion Maggie Nichols, has been the national champion or runner up in five of the past six seasons.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and developing an amazing, championship culture,” said Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler, in her 13th season in Norman. “But also a culture of happiness, joy, motivation, and discipline. All of those things can work together despite what people think, and I think we have the right combination.”

A heel bruise suffered in mid-January will keep Nichols from defending her all-around title, but she will participate on the beam and bars.

It will be the swan song for UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field, who will retire after 29 seasons as head coach for the Bruins and 37th overall at UCLA. The Bruins will be looking for their 8th national title, all under Field.

The Bruins bring a strong team that includes former Olympians Kyla Ross (2012 gold), Madison Kocian (2016 gold and silver), and Katelyn Ohashi.

Ohashi’s bubbly, fun floor routine has gone viral with over 38 million views on YouTube alone.

Oklahoma defeated UCLA in Norman on March 3, 197.775-197-575.

Another strong performer will be Utah’s MyKayla Skinner, who was the all-around runner up in 2018. Utah’s 9 team titles are just one behind Georgia, but the Utes haven’t won a championship since 1995.

Georgia’s last title was in 2009. It was the fifth championship in a row for the Bulldogs.

“I love being in Fort Worth,” said Kindler whose team won the 2016 national title in Cowtown. “The team loves being downtown and being able to walk close to everything and the fans are amazing. We’re hoping to fill this place.”

Doors open at 10 a.m. on Friday with the first team semifinal beginning at noon. Joining No. 2 UCLA in the early session will be No. 3 LSU, No. 6 Utah and No. 7 Michigan.

The doors open for the second semifinal at 4:30 p.m. with the competition beginning at 6 p.m. The Sooners will face No. 5 Denver, No. 8 Georgia and No. 15 Oregon State. The top two teams from each session will advance to Saturday’s final four.

Individual event titles will be decided on Friday with participants performing in conjunction with the team semifinals.

On Saturday, doors open at 4:30 p.m. with an autograph session from 4:30-5:30 p.m.. The team championship gets underway at 6 p.m.

Plenty of general admission tickets remain at $55 for an all-session ticket and $20 per session on Friday. Saturday’s session is $25.

Fort Worth will continue to host the women’s championship for the next three seasons with the event moving to the new Dickies Arena starting in 2020.

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