Grable doubles up for NCAA individual event titles
Arkansas’ Katherine Grable captured two titles on the final day of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships.
Florida and Oklahoma, meanwhile, deadlocked again.
Grable, who was tied for second in the all-around, won the floor exercise championship in Sunday’s individual event competition and shared the vault title with LSU’s Rheagan Courville after qualifying as an individual. It was the first NCAA gymnastics title for Arkansas.
"I never thought going into this weekend that I’d be bringing home two national championships and a second-place all-around," Grable said. "It’s just unbelievable."
Florida’s Bridget Sloan, a 2008 Olympian, captured the third title of her career. She won the uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.9375 after winning the all-around and balance beam titles last year. She had helped the Gators win a share of their second straight championship on Saturday night.
Co-champion Oklahoma also picked up one title after the first shared NCAA team championship in women’s gymnastics, courtesy of Taylor Spears on the balance beam.
"To win an individual event, it’s icing on the cake," Sloan said. "You go from team finals, which is what it’s all about, to individual. (Sunday) was just a great night for everyone all around.
"You never know what’s going to happen in gymnastics but it was awesome."
Sloan topped Stanford teammates Samantha Shapiro (9.925) and Kristina Vaculik (9.9).
Grable scored 9.9625 on the floor. She and Courville, who also shared the vault title last year, both scored 9.975s on that event. Haley Scaman of Oklahoma was third on the vault at 9.9667.
Grable vaulted second and her lead held up through the next seven competitors before Courville matched her. Grable was the SEC gymnast of the year and made history for Arkansas gymnastics.
"She’s definitely made a mark for our program," Arkansas coach Mark Cook said. "Even though the team wasn’t here, she was still able to carry the torch."
Spears won on the beam at 9.925 as the last athlete competing in her first career finals. She said jitters weren’t a problem despite the situation.
"I knew it was my last routine ever and I just went out there and did what I know how to do, what I’ve been doing all year," Spears said.
Georgia’s Lindsey Cheek (9.90) was second on the beam followed by a four-way tie for third.
For Spears, it was the happiest of endings to a career on an event that can lead to heartbreak as easily as glory. A fall from the beam on the last routine of Saturday night ended Alabama’s title hopes.
"Every dream for her probably has come true in the last two days," Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler said. "To watch it end like that was really unique, I think.
"You see careers end in so many different ways, injuries or not quite getting where you wanted to get. So this is a pretty rare moment to see someone who has won a team national championship and then an individual national championship for the first time on the last chance."