Oklahoma wins ninth men's gymnastics championship to finish perfect season
NORMAN, Okla. -- The time for nine was Friday night in Oklahoma.
A perfect 26-0 season came to a perfect finish as the Oklahoma men's gymnastics program won its ninth NCAA Championship. A raucous OU crowd watched the Sooners soar to a 447.050 victory and hoist the coveted championship trophy at the end of the night.
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OU men's gymnastics' nine titles are the most for any sports program in Oklahoma history. In addition, head coach Mark Williams has won six national titles since 2000, the most in NCAA men's gymnastics.
The Sooners' mark of 26-0 marks the third perfect season in OU program history, all achieved under Williams' leadership.
It was truly a night of highlight-reel moments from start to finish for the Sooners. A crowning moment came when two-time defending national champion Michael Squires topped his previous career-best of 16.300 on the rings with a massive 16.450 to tie the NCAA record on the event.
The Sooners made their statement early, setting the tone on floor with Allan Bower and Todd Dowdy earning a pair of 15.000s in the first two routines of the night. The duo was backed by three more scores of 15-plus from Alec Robin (15.400), Kanji Oyama (15.400) and Colin Van Wicklen (15.450) to hit an excellent 76.250 on the event.
Oklahoma moved to pommel horse for the second rotation and displayed top mental strength. After a slow start threatened to hamper the Sooners, OU battled back for a meet-high 72.650 on the event. Michael Reid’s mark of 15.200 in the anchor position led both Oklahoma and the meet, while Bower added a huge 15.050.
Sitting in second place after two rotations, OU came out swinging on the rings. Oyama (15.100), Thao Hoang (15.100) and Hunter Justus (15.450) set the pace with outstanding routines before Squires’ record-tying 16.450 helped boost Oklahoma to a 76.800 on the apparatus. It was a defining moment in the meet, as Oklahoma would pull away with the lead for the first time of the night and never look back.
A massive stuck vault by Josh Yee earned a 15.000 and helped the Sooners to a strong start in the fourth rotation. Van Wicklen followed immediately with a 15.100 and Dowdy tacked on a big 15.150 as the rotation continued, building momentum throughout the lineup. Oyama then put the exclamation mark on the event with a meet-best 15.350 to help close out with a 75.000.
Oklahoma headed into parallel bars with a steady lead in the fifth rotation and Sergey Resnick opened with an excellent 15.100 effort to aid his team. Akers then hit a huge and memorable routine, bringing the crowd to its feet in the final performance of his career for a 15.050. Danny Berardini capped off the event with a quality 14.900 set to aid the Sooners to a 73.000.
Oklahoma entered the final rotation of the night holding nearly a 3-point advantage in the top spot and looking for a solid effort on high bar to secure the title. The Sooners more than delivered. In the lead-off position, Robin performed a solid routine to earn a 14.800 and was quickly followed by strong efforts from Van Wicklen (14.300) and Rubin (14.500).
The final two routines were marked moments for the Sooners as seniors Berardini and Clement brought the arena to a fever pitch with huge routines and big stuck landings. Berardini hit a nice 15.000 effort, Clement sealed the victory with a 14.750 and Oklahoma soared to a 73.350 on the event.