No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Iowa and No. 5 Minnesota
|MATCHUP AT A GLANCE|
|Ranking||No. 1||No. 5||No. 11|
|Pommel Horse Avg.||69.583||64.388||60.800|
|Parallel Bars Avg.||71.783||66.763||67.200|
|High Bar Avg.||71.533||66.688||65.825|
NOTES AND NUMBERS
The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team hits the road again this weekend as it travel to Iowa City, Iowa to take on the 11th-ranked Hawkeyes and No. 5 Minnesota in a tri-meet slated for Friday at 7 p.m. CT. Live scoring will be available at www.meetscoreonline.com/Event/18233 and the event can be streamed live (for a fee)at hawkeyesports.com/watch/?Live=332 .
A big storyline in 2017 will be changes made to the code of points used to score routines.
“The code of points has changed so there are only four special requirements on each apparatus instead of five,” Williams said. “Each special requirement is half a point. Basically they have combined some element groups and reduced the overall requirement. Typically we have said that a really good score is a 14.500 to a 15.000. We’re going to see that same routine score between a 14.000 and a 14.500. A lot of good gymnasts are going to be doing routines that are in the high 13s. The team score is going to be affected and each individual score is going to be about a half a point lower.”
The Sooners have won or finished first in every meet they have competed in since finishing second at the 2014 NCAA team finals. In that span they have racked up 56 victories, the most consecutive wins in program history and the most since piling up 52 wins from 2002 to 2004.
Even with scoring down under the new code of points, the Sooners are still racking up big numbers. Oklahoma is the only team this season to top the 425-point mark, having done so in each of its three meets this season, including twice scoring better than 430. Oklahoma’s three team scores so far this year are the three highest marks by any team this season. With individual scores of 15 or better becoming scarce across the nation, the Sooners have put up 13 such marks in their three meets, including five from sophomore and reigning NCAA all-around champion Yul Moldauer.
The Sooners celebrate after the last high bar routine in their home opener against Michigan. The Sooners won the meet 430.050-400.050 with the help of a season-high 72.500 on the event.
LET IT R3IGN
Oklahoma is chasing a third consecutive national championship in 2017 after completing back-to-back undefeated title runs in 2015 and 2016. The Sooners have repeated as national champions three times under Williams but have never won three in a row. The last program to accomplish that feat was Nebraska, which won five straight from 1979 to 1983. Williams was part of those Cornhusker teams as student-athlete and then as a graduate assistant. Three or more consecutive titles has only happened two other times in NCAA history (Penn State, 1959-1961; Illinois, 1939-1942).
RIGHT BACK AT IT
The Sooners have picked up right where they left off in 2016 so far this season. Oklahoma boasts the highest average team score in the nation by more than nine points and ranks first on every event but floor, where it ranks second. Individually Sooners rank first on pommel horse, (Allan Bower), rings (Allan Bower), vault (Tanner Justus), parallel bars (Yul Moldauer) and high bar (Colin Van Wicklen).
Moldauer posted an impressive 88.350 in the Sooners’ home-opening win over Michigan. For his efforts, he won both MPSF and NCAA Gymnast of the Week honors. That mark is the second highest in the country so far this year, trailing only teammate Allan Bower’s 88.750 from the Rocky Mountain Open. Moldauer also won the event titles on floor (14.850), rings (15.100) and parallel bars (15.150) against the Wolverines and has logged five scores of 15.000 or better this year.
Senior co-captain Allan Bower opened his season with a bang at the Rocky Mountain Open. The Chandler, Ariz., native posted a nation-leading all-around mark of 88.750 at the Rocky Mountain Open and was named the NCAA and MPSF Gymnast of the Week for his efforts. Bower scored 15.000 or better on three events and won the event title on two. He sat out against Michigan with an injury.
Freshman Tanner Justus celebrates after a big vault against Michigan. The youngster leads the nation in scoring average on vault.
The Sooners return a pair of individual national champions from 2016. Sophomore Yul Moldauer made history a year ago when he became just the second freshman ever (Sam Mikulak, Michigan) to win the all-around title. Moldauer is also a favorite to contend for the national title on parallel bars this year. Senior co-captain Colin Van Wicklen won the national title on floor last year. Van Wicklen, a seven-time All-American, is a serious title contender on floor and vault in 2017.
PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE
In addition to its two national champions, Williams’ squad returns five All-Americans from last year’s title team. Sophomore Levi Anderson (HB), senior Allan Bower (PH, PB, AA), junior Hunter Justus (SR), sophomore Yul Moldauer (FX, PB, AA) and senior Colin Van Wicklen (FX, VT, HB) all earned All-America status a year ago. The Sooners also return redshirt senior Josh Yee, who was an All-American in 2015, and senior Todd Dowdy, also a 2015 All-American.
OU welcomes a pair of talented freshmen for 2017 in Matt Wenske and Tanner Justus. Wenske boasts a decorated junior career that includes a first place finish in his age group in the all-around competition at the 2015 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships. At the 2016 U.S. Championships he tied Sooner great and 2016 summer Olympian Jake Dalton for the event title on vault as a senior in high school. Justus finished first in his age group on vault at the 2013 and 2014 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships. He also took first on vault at the 2015 P&G Championships and finished tied for third with Wenske in the all-around competition.
Two weeks ago the duo tied for the event title on vault against Nebraska. They posted matching 15.050s and now share the lead nationally on the event. Wenske sat out vs. Michigan with injury.
OU and the rest of the collegiate gymnastics world shift their focus to the national stage next weekend as the Winter Cup will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 16 and 18. The event serves as a qualifying meet for the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team. The Sooners will be sending a large delegation of current and former gymnasts to the meet.