COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The top-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team posted a team mark of 441.200 on Friday night in Session 1 of NCAA Preliminary action in Columbus, Ohio. That mark was the best of the session by nearly 15 points, securing the Sooners a place in Saturday night’s NCAA team final.
Qualifying along with Oklahoma were No. 5 Minnesota and No. 8 Penn State.
Three Sooners took home event titles on Friday. Freshman Yul Moldauer won floor with a score of 15.450, junior Allan Bower claimed high bar with a 14.950 and junior Thao Hoang grabbed the rings title with a score of 15.550. The Sooners did not have a gymnast compete in the all-around competition.
“I thought we did well,” head coach Mark Williams said. “The goal is to qualify for the next day and that’s what we did. I’m happy for my pommel horse team. They were very sharp on that event. The rest of the events, we did our job. We got through, knowing that it’s all fresh tomorrow. We’ll have a little bit different lineup tomorrow and we know it’s for a championship as a team and on individual events.”
As the No. 1 overall seed, Oklahoma was given the option to choose its rotation order. The Sooners started on floor scoring a 72.850, their lowest total of the year on the event, but still entered the second rotation sitting in first place. Moldauer posted the best score for the Sooners, turning in a session-best 15.450. OU also got strong marks from junior Colin Van Wicklen (14.850) and freshman Levi Anderson (14.600).
MORE: Full Session 1 results
The Sooners were much stronger in rotation two. Oklahoma turned in five hit routines to post its third-highest total of the season with a 74.050. Bower (15.050) and senior Sergey Resnick (15.000) both topped the 15-point mark, while Moldauer (14.750) and senior Josh Yee (14.700) also notched high marks. Seeing his first collegiate postseason action, freshman Genki Suzuki posted a 14.550.
OU carried its momentum into the third rotation, scoring 74.800 on the backs of two marks over the 15-point plateau. Junior Reese Rickett and Moldauer both stuck their dismounts and scored 14.850 and 15.200, respectively. Hoang’s session-high 15.550 anchored the Sooners’ rotation on rings and also tied his career high. At the halfway point of Session 1, the Sooners led by nearly 10 full points.
Willliams’ bunch had one of its better vault days of the year in the fourth rotation. All five Sooners scored at least 14.900 with four topping 15, resulting in a team total of 75.250. Bower led the way for OU, scoring 15.150 in the anchor position. Moldauer and senior Kanji Oyama both earned 15.100s, Van Wicklen turned in a 15.000 and Yee scored 14.900 in the leadoff spot.
At the MPSF Championship two weeks ago, Oklahoma set the NCAA record on parallel bars with a team score of 77.000. OU was not quite that strong on Friday afternoon, but still turned in a solid 72.150. Resnick paced OU with a 14.800. The Sooners also got a 14.750 from Bower in the anchor spot. With just one rotation remaining, the Sooners led second-place Minnesota by just more than 15 points.
On high bar, the Sooners closed out the meet with a 72.100. Bower’s session-high 14.950 paced the Sooners, who also got a 14.800 from Anderson and a 14.650 from Moldauer. OU’s high bar total pushed the Sooners to a team mark of 441.200. That mark is their lowest of the season, but still bested second place by nearly 15 points.
The Sooners now have just one meet standing between them and their goal of a 10thnational title. The NCAA team and individual champions will be decided Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT inside St. John Arena.
“I think they just have to handle the moment,” Williams said. “There will be more pressure as tomorrow night is for the season. We have prepared all year for this. It’s a matter of going out and executing what they have been doing in practice and in competitions up to this point. They just have to stay focused on what they are doing and not let other things distract them.”
This marks the first year that the team and individual finals will take place in the same meet. Saturday’s championship will be streamed live on NCAA.com.