Men's gymnastics championship: Oklahoma qualifies as No. 1, seeks three-peat
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The top-ranked Oklahoma men's gymnastics team inched one final step closer to its ultimate goal of a third consecutive national title Friday night, scoring a 430.600 in Session II of NCAA qualifying action to earn a spot in Saturday's NCAA Championships team finals.
Competing on the campus of the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., the Sooners' score was the best among all six qualifying teams from Friday's pair of qualifying sessions. Illinois was second best with a 421.300. Stanford, which competed in the first session of the day placed third with a 420.450. Also qualifying were No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Minnesota and No. 7 Nebraska.
Oklahoma posted the highest team score of the day on all six events on Friday, while six Sooners won individual event titles. Sophomore and reigning NCAA all-around champion Yul Moldauer took home the crown on floor and rings, senior co-captain Colin Van Wicklen and freshman Matt Wesnke tied on vault, senior co-captain Allan Bower won parallel bars and Van Wicklen took high bar alone.
“We did our job,” head coach Mark Williams said. “The guys did well. You know, it was a good prelim and hopefully we didn’t expend too much energy so we can come back feeling better tomorrow. We’re happy with the results – a lot to do tomorrow.”
As the No. 1 overall seed, the Sooners were able to choose their starting event. Oklahoma chose floor and competed in Olympic order. OU came out of the gates strong, notching a team score of 71.300. Moldauer led the way with his 15.300, which was the highest individual floor mark from either session. Senior co-captain Colin Van Wicklen logged a 14.650 in the anchor spot while senior Thao Hoang added a 14.150.
In rotation two the Sooners moved to the always challenging pommel horse and put up yet another 71.300. Bower’s 15.050 led the way for OU. Moldauer turned in a 14.400 and sophomore Genki Suzuki added a 14.150 for the Sooners. After two rotations, the Sooners led by more than two points over second-place Illinois.
|FX||Yul Moldauer (OU)||15.300|
|PH||Brandon Ngai (Ill.)||15.150|
|SR||Yul Moldauer (OU)||15.150|
|VT||Colin Van Wicklen (OU)||14.950|
|Matt Wesnke (OU)||14.950|
|PB||Allan Bower (OU)||15.200|
|HB||Colin Van Wicklen (OU)||14.600|
|AA||Jonathan Tang (Navy)||82.150|
The Sooners widened their lead even further in the third rotation. A rings score of 72.250 put the Sooners up by nearly seven full points at the halfway point. Moldauer led the way with a 15.200 that marked the best score of the day. OU also got a strong contribution from senior Reese Rickett (14.300) who was seeing his first action since March 4 due to a knee injury. Hoang hit for 14.600 and junior Hunter Justus added a 14.700.
Vault saw Oklahoma’s biggest score of the night. OU notched a 73.600 and saw marks of at least 14.400 from all five gymnasts. Van Wicklen and Wenske led the way with their dueling 14.950s, the best scores of the day, while freshman Tanner Justus added a 14.800. Seniors Alex Powarzynski and Todd Dowdy scored 14.500 and 14.400, respectively. After the fourth rotation, the Sooners led second-place Illinois by nearly 10 points.
OU added yet another mark in the 70s on parallel bars. The Sooners scored a 72.200 led by Bower’s 15.200, again the best of the day. Hunter Justus kicked in a 14.600 in the leadoff spot while Powarzynski added a 14.550. Heading into the final rotation OU led by more than 11 full points.
The Sooners finished the evening on high bar, scoring a 70.050 to make it six straight events with scores of at least 70.000. Van Wicklen led the day with his 14.600. Sophomore Suzuki notched a 14.250 and Bower added a 14.050. When the chalk had settled, the Sooners had won Session II by just under nine points.
There is now but one meet between the Sooners and a third straight title. The NCAA team and individual champions will be decided Saturday night at 6 p.m. ET inside Christl Arena.