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Perfect 10s still special for Maggie Nichols

Oklahoma's Maggie Nichols vaults during the Perfect 10 Challenge in Oklahoma City in February 2017. Nichols has 16 perfect 10s in her career entering Friday's home opener against Georgia. [PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols vaults during the Perfect 10 Challenge in Oklahoma City in February 2017. Nichols has 16 perfect 10s in her career entering Friday’s home opener against Georgia. [PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

NORMAN — Maggie Nichols remembers her first road meet with the Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team.

In Morgantown, West Virginia, on Jan. 21, 2017, Nichols nailed her vault routine.

Nichols knew when she stuck her landing that her score would be really good. Then the scoreboard flashed a perfect 10 from both judges.

Amid the hugs from teammates, Sooners coach K.J. Kindler joined the group surrounding the then-freshman.

“The first of many,” Kindler said.

Kindler was right.

Going into Friday’s home opener against No. 5-ranked Georgia and now a junior, Nichols has 16 perfect 10s in her Oklahoma career.

Kindler said fans should appreciate Nichols’ greatness while she’s still in Norman.

“If you can think of our very best quarterbacks that we’ve ever had — our Heisman Trophy winners — if you can think of our very best basketball players, she ranks right with those people,” Kindler said. “She is one of the best of her sport of all time and she’s right here at OU.

“People shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see her.”

The top-ranked Sooners and Bulldogs face off beginning at 6:45 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center.

Nichols’ most recent perfect score came Saturday at Arkansas when Nichols nailed her vault.

Kindler said she has a pretty good feel for when the perfect 10s are going to show up.

“You know if it’s worthy. You don’t know if it’ll happen because really you have no control over it,” Kindler said. “But as a coach, you know if it’s worthy. Sometimes it comes up and you’re like, ‘hmmm.’ Sometimes it doesn’t come up and you’re like, ‘hmmm.’

“When you shake it all out, 16’s probably right because there’s probably four she should’ve gotten and didn’t and four she got and she shouldn’t have. That’s kind of how gymnastics is.”

Kindler said she knew immediately that Nichols’ vault at Arkansas was worthy. Same thing for her beam routine where she narrowly missed a 10 after receiving a perfect score from one judge and a 9.95 from the other.

Even after she’s made them a relative regularity, Nichols said seeing the perfect scores never get old.

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