Rocky Mountain Open Preview
The Sooners open up the 2005 schedule with the Rocky Mountain Open competing against Mountain Pacific Sports foes, Nebraska and Air Force. Also competing in meet is the Arizona State club team and the Olympic Training Center Team.
The Sooners enter Friday's meet, ranked No.1 in the nation, after finishing the 2004 season 24-4 as the national runner-ups. The University of Nebraska enters the meet ranked No. 10 in the opening poll, while the Air Force Academy is unranked. The meet is the season opener for all three schools.
"The Rocky Mountain Open has traditionally been the starting point for our season and despite the fact that we have several athletes coming off injuries, we expect to be very competitive with the ten guys that are traveling," said Williams. "It should be a competitive meet with Air Force, Nebraska, Arizona State’s club team and also the Olympic Training Center Team."
The Sooners return four All-Americans from the 2004 squad. Seniors Joshua Gore, David Henderson and Brian Trause along with junior Jamie Henderson all garnered All-America honors. Gore and Trause were both named to the team on the parallel bars. David Henderson was an All-American in the all-around last year and has garnered honors on the still rings the past three seasons. David's younger brother, Jamie, was named to the team on the still rings for the second consecutive year.
Last year, the Sooners won the college level of the Rocky Mountain Open with a score of 211.400, Nebraska and Air Force finished third and fourth, respectively.
The University of Nebraska enters the meet led by senior captains Mace Patterson and Tony Burtle. The majority of Nebraska's all-around roster comes from its junior and sophomore classes. The Huskers are coached by Francis Allen who is in his 36th year at the helm.
Head coach Lou Burkel enters his 22nd season at the helm of Air Force's gymnastics team. The Falcons have a number of youngsters on this years' squad with six freshmen and five sophomores. The rest of Air Force's roster consists of one senior and two juniors.
The meet is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy.
Preseason Coaches Poll
The Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team, coming off a NCAA National runner-up season in 2004, was voted No. 1 in the GymInfo Coaches’ preseason coaches poll. The Sooners got five first-place votes, ahead of No. 2 Illinois which received four first-place votes. OU has ranked in the top five of the preseason poll over each of the last eight seasons and were No. 1 in 2003 and 2002.
"This is possibly the best team we have had on paper, but in order to prove that, we have to get the whole team on the floor at the same time,” Williams said.
Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons- Will not compete, expected to return next week.
Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons- Will not compete, expected to return next week. Member of U.S. National Team.
Brian Carr- Finished second on the pommel horse at MPSF event finals.
Kyle Fernandez- Will not compete, expected to return next week.
Michael Gehart- Co-captain along with David Henderson.
Josh Gore- Will not compete, expected to return next week.
David Henderson- Three-time All-American on rings and was honored in the all around in 2004. Co-captain along with Michael Gehart. Will not compete, expected to return next week.
Jamie Henderson- Two-time All-American on the rings.
Jonathan Horton- Making collegiate debut, will compete in all-around. Member of U.S. National Team.
David Iammatteo- Qualified for event finals at last year's Rocky Mountain Open.
Jacob Messina- Making collegiate debut, expected to compete in all-around
James Myers- Finished second on the high bar at 2004 Rocky Mountain Open.
Brian Trause- All-American on the parallel bars in 2004.
Joseph Weaver- Making collegiate debut, expected to see action in three events.
Sooners in International Competition
Two members of the University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team participated in separate international competitions last weekend. Freshmen Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and Jonathan Horton travelled overseas for their first international meets since becoming U.S. Senior National Team members.
Horton put together an impressive performance at the 2004 Pan American Championships in Venezuela. He qualified for the event finals by finishing in the top eight on Friday in all three events he was competing on (still rings, vault and high bar). During Saturday’s competition, Horton took first place on the vault with a 9.365 score. In addition, he then went on to place second on rings (9.40) and third on high bar (9.25).
Unfortunately for Abdullah-Simmons, he suffered a minor injury to his left ankle and did not compete at the 2004 Chunichi Cup in Japan. He is expected to be back to 100 percent when the Sooners open the season next month.