Dynasty: OU Wins Fourth Straight NCAA Title
|Individual National Champs|
|OU Team Highs|
CHICAGO – History made. The Oklahoma men's gymnastics team continued its rule over the NCAA, winning its fourth consecutive national title Saturday night.
The Sooners cemented their dynasty with a 414.858 first-place finish at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
OU became just the third program in history to win at least four consecutive national titles (Illinois from 1939 to 1942 and Nebraska from 1979 to 1982). The title is also the Sooners' 12th overall – tying them with Penn State for most in NCAA history – and the ninth of head coach Mark Williams' 19-year tenure. Williams is now tied with Penn State's Gene Wettstone for most national championships of any coach in history.
Yul Moldauer was sensational, becoming the first Oklahoma gymnast to win four individual national titles in one year (floor, vault, parallel bars, all-around). With seven career titles, the junior also owns the most individual championships in school history.
As a team, OU totaled 11 All-America honors.
The Sooners' title capped their fourth straight undefeated season. In that span, Oklahoma has racked up 97 straight victories, which stands as the fourth-longest winning streak in NCAA history.
OU defeated Minnesota (411.923), Illinois (411.689), Stanford (408.725), Nebraska (403.589) and Penn State (401.991) in Saturday's final.
After posting the highest score in either preliminary session Friday, OU elected to start the night on floor once again. The team came out of the gates sharp with Moldauer hitting his most complete routine of the year, posting a season-high 15.166, earning All-America honors and winning the NCAA floor title. Levi Anderson earned a 14.100, followed by Hunter Justus (13.666), Gage Dyer, (13.666) and Tanner Justus (13.200). The Sooners totaled a 69.798 in the first rotation, only trailing Stanford by a little over 0.200 points.
As it did Friday night, Oklahoma's pommel horse lineup put on a show in the second rotation, hitting all five routines and keeping the momentum rolling with a 68.566. Moldauer earned his second All-America nod of the night, scoring a 14.533. Genki Suzuki hit his routine and was named All-American, earning a 14.000. Junior Brian Schibler just missed out on All-America status with a 13.633. Grant Kell (13.300) and Levi Anderson (13.100) rounded out the lineup. The Sooners still trailed Stanford heading into the third rotation.
OU fell into third place after posting a 67.565 on still rings. Moldauer continued to dominate, hitting his routine for a 14.433 and claiming his third All-America honor of the evening. Collyn Kellogg (13.533), Levi Anderson (13.466) and Jake Maloley (13.333) all competed for the Sooners. Reese Rickett scored a 12.800 in his final routine at OU.
Down by nearly five points, Oklahoma needed a massive rotation on vault. Moldauer and Hunter and Tanner Justus delivered, claiming three of the top four spots on the event. Moldauer won his second NCAA title and third All-America honor of the night with a phenomenal 14.900. Tanner Justus came through with a 14.800, earning the first All-America honor of his career. Hunter Justus notched 14.766 in an All-America effort for his last vault as a Sooner. Anderson (14.100) and Eric Holley (14.000) wrapped up the fourth rotation. No Sooner scored below a 14.000 as OU grabbed the lead by less than 0.600.
The Sooners all but sealed their fourth straight national title on parallel bars, totaling a 69.832 and extending their lead to nearly five points. In typical fashion, Moldauer dominated again by hitting a 14.733 and earning another NCAA individual championship. Suzuki anchored with a solid 14.133 and Peter Daggett stuck his landing for a 14.066 in just his second meet of the season. In his final routine of his career, Hunter Justus scored a 13.700.
OU put the finishing touches on its historic season with a 66.531 on high bar. Anderson notched a 13.933, earning All-America status, followed by Moldauer (13.533), Suzuki (13.533), Isamu Ito (13.166) and Kell (12.366).
In addition to his three event titles, Moldauer claimed the all-around crown with an 87.298. Anderson was also an All-American in the all-around with an 82.199.
Head Coach Mark Williams
On winning his fourth straight national title:
"I'm ecstatic. You hold your breath all year, knowing you are doing the right thing. You still have to put it all on the floor the day of the championship. I knew that we were a very well-prepared team. I knew the guys felt good when we started. This is competition and we were pushed by a number of other teams. These guys fought and clawed. They weren't willing to give it away and I am really impressed and really proud of them. This is going to be one I remember because I didn't feel like it was guaranteed at any point until the last guy landed."
On the team's 72.566 on vault:
"That was the difference. We've been that far behind in other meets this year. We know how to do this. It's time to fight. They were immediately fired up. Hunter (Justus) just willed those guys to be better. He picked us up immediately. After our parallel bar rotation, I felt like we had enough of a lead that I felt comfortable. We still had a little bit of nerves on high bar but I am happy that we handled it. I know these guys have earned it."
On Yul Moldauer's night:
"He's something special. He won the all-around by almost four points. He's now got the most national championships of any Oklahoma Sooner in history. Yul was tremendous tonight. He's such a warrior. When he performed tonight, we were relaxed because we knew we were getting his best. I am just amazed. He struggled on vault this season and yet, today he did one of the best vaults I have ever seen him do. That's the kind of guy he's been."
On senior Hunter Justus:
"I can't say enough good things about Hunter Justus. Nobody that has been through this program has gone through four years and never lost. I tribute a lot of that to Hunter. He has a tremendous will to win. He'll put everyone on his back if he has to and make everyone rise up. I'm really impressed with that young man. I am so happy he was able to get through this last year after so many physical struggles."
On tying Gene Wettstone for most national championships by a coach:
"I am really happy that I am in the company of Gene Wettstone and Francis Allen. Our program is now tied for most championships of all time. I think it is a testament to these guys buying into the program. Having won nine championships in my short time as a head coach is nothing short of miraculous."
Junior Yul Moldauer
On owning the most individual titles in OU history:
"I can't take all the credit. I have had a lot of people help me along the way. I want to thank Mark, Taqiy (Abdullah-Simmons) and Steve (Legendre). I want to thank our trainer, Jenna (Allocco). I want thank my teammates for pushing me every day."
On the team's national title:
"This is the most exciting win I have had my gymnastics career. We started out as an inexperienced team and a team that a lot of people doubted. Throughout the season, we grew stronger and stronger. Even before the meet, I thought we were going to win it. It's like that Sooner Magic we talk about. We went event by event. We saw we were down but it didn't matter. It didn't stop us. If we do our job, we can keep going."
On the team's vault rotation:
"Taqiy (Abdullah-Simmons) got us together and told us this is what we trained for. We let all the nerves out and just attacked it. We knew we could be better than all the other teams. We just went out there and did our thing."
Senior Hunter Justus
On never losing a meet during his OU career:
"I couldn't have done it without all of my teammates. I didn't really do anything. It doesn't feel like an individual accomplishment."
On the team's resilency:
"We don't ever give up. You see it every single meet. We've been down in a couple meets this year and we never quit one time. I knew that we were going to score high on vault. We always rise to the occassion, that's who we are. That's who OU is."
On his career at OU:
"I wouldn't take any of it for granted. I am thankful for all the teammates we have because without them, I would be nothing here. It's been the best four years of my life for sure. I couldn't have done it without my teammates or my coaches."
Senior Reese Rickett
On winning his fourth national title:
"I am feeling the best I ever felt. This team is different than most. After my routine, which is not what I wanted to do, I had about two seconds of bad thoughts and then I looked over at the guys and I knew they had my back. That meant a lot."
On the team's vault rotation:
"I knew that we had more fight than anybody. That is exactly what went down. They stepped up and put us where we needed to be. It was awesome to watch."
On his career at OU:
"It's been more than a career. It's been the best years of my life. It's about the people I've been able to connect with and win national championships with those people."