Jan. 11—NORMAN — Oklahoma freshman Audrey Davis did what she’s always done to calm her nerves.
Before Sunday afternoon, the Frisco, Texas, native had yet to compete at the collegiate level. So, she told herself to take a deep breath and focus on the music playing inside Lloyd Noble Center.
Moving and dancing around has always helped the freshman stay composed before competing. and while getting used to college gymnastics will take time, Davis seemed more than OK in her OU debut, helping the Sooners prevail 197.450-194.725 in their season opener against Arizona State.
“I was very proud of her,” OU coach K.J. Kindler said of Davis. “First of all, she had great joy in her experience. She was showing joy when she finished. She’s worked hard. She’s very prepared for this moment.
“And to see that joy when she finished was, I mean, that’s why you coach, to see people achieve their dreams.”
Davis led off OU’s vault rotation, scoring a 9.825. She anchored the Sooners’ bars lineup, securing a 9.875 for her best individual score of the afternoon and scored another 9.825 on beam. Davis is a part of a load
Davis is a part of a loaded nine-member freshmen class, which is Kindler’s largest over 15-season tenure.
The first meet of the season, which comes amid a pandemic and follows a 2020 campaign that never saw a proper end, typically offers Kindler her first real chance in months to gauge where her program is at.
Between Davis’ stellar debut, along with plenty of other exceptional performances to start the Sooners’ 2021 season, Kindler has plenty to be excited about as the program gets into its schedule.
Fellow OU freshman Katherine Levasseur led all competitors with a 9.925 on bars. OU senior Anastasia Webb had event-bests 9.950 on beam and 9.925 on floor. and a trio of Sooners — Evy Schoepfer, Allie Stern and Audrey Lynn — shared the event title on vault, all scoring a 9.875.
Under different circumstances, Norman’s Lloyd Noble Center would have buzzed even louder than it did on Sunday. The arena has reduced its capacity to 25% due to COVID-19 protocols, making for a strange welcome to the likes of Davis and her fellow firsttime Sooner competitors.
For the ones that have experienced the arena, filled from top to bottom with spectators, it was even stranger as they competed for the first time since March 6, 2020.
“I would definitely say I remember having more chills before I went out there because of that crowd and all the fans watching and stuff,” Webb said. “But I would say I feel like our team’s really, really positive and we have a great group of girls and we cheer pretty loud for each other. So it really helped out for that too.”
Dealing with emptier venues is going to be a necessity for the Sooners, and something Kindler didn’t think her group was completely prepared for.
OU will get its next chance to shine, and acclimate to a different gymnastics season, next Sunday at 4 p.m. when Utah visits Lloyd Noble Center. The meet will air on ESPN2.