NORMAN, Okla.-- The University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team and head coach Mark Williams have signed another stellar class of incoming freshmen for the 2005-06 season. Williams announced today the signing of five gymnasts that will join the Sooners next season, three of which belong to the current U.S. Junior National Team that consists of eight members total.
(Thomas) Wesley Aderhold, Jason Laughton and Chris Brooks headline that group as part of the nation’s elite gymnasts (Class I Junior Elite, 16-18 years old) and will be joined by Garrett Carr and Kyle McNamara.
"Of the five, three are on the U.S.A. Junior National Team, so I am excited,” said Williams. This is an outstanding recruiting class that will come in when we really needed to reload our talent after having seven seniors on the 2004-05 roster. We will look heavily towards our new recruits to move the program forward and continue the success we have achieved over the last four years."
Over those past four years, the Sooners have won two National Championships, finished as the nation’s runner up on two occasions and produced 38 All-America honors.
2005-06 OU Recruiting Class:
Aderhold, who goes by Wesley, comes from the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Plano, Texas, where he is coached by Sergei Pakonich. Aderhold moved to Texas for his gymnastics training, he originally hails from Tarpon Springs, Fla., and is the son of Tom and LeAnn Aderhold. He attends Spring Creek Academy in Plano. Not only is Aderhold been a member of the U.S. Junior National Team for the past three years, but he is also accomplished in the classroom as a three-time national academic honoree (2002-2004).
“We are excited to have Wes join the Sooner gymnastics family,” said Williams. “He is a tremendous student on top of being a talented and tough competitor as a Junior National Team member. We have high expectations for him to bring in his solid gymnastic’s background and develop his talents even further as an OU gymnast.”
Laughton is a member of the 2004 U.S. Junior National Team and trains at SCATS Gymnastics under his coach, Grigor Chalikyan. Laughton is from Northridge, Calif., and attends Sunland Christian School in Sunland, Calif. He is the son of Robert and Sheila Laughton and is also received national academic honors in 2004.
“Jason is a very elegant athlete that will bring a beautiful style of gymnastics to our program,” said Williams. “We are looking forward to having another accomplished Junior National Team member. His experience will be a tremendous boost towards the OU tradition.”
Brooks is Williams’ third commitment and the final Junior National Team member. Brooks, like Aderhold, is an experienced member of the team with four years under his belt on the squad. Brooks competed at the 2002 and 2003 U.S. Junior National Championships and finished 5th in the all-around in 2003. He missed the 2004 meet due to injury. Brooks also competed at the 2004 Winter Cup Challenge, a meet that helps determines qualifiers for the U.S. Nationals, and was a finalist on the vault. Brooks is the son of Larry and Terry and is from Houston, Texas, where he attends Cypress Creek High School and trains at Houston North Gymnastics under Bill Foster.
“Chris is our third junior member signed this year and we are happy he signed with OU,” said Williams. “He is a Houston product and was highly recruited. When he comes in next season, our expectations for him will be to help continue the success we have enjoyed as a team in the last couple of years.”
Garrett Carr is the brother of current Sooner Brian Carr, who will be a sophomore this season. Garrett, the son of Ted and Diane, lives in Mandeville, La., where he attends Fontainebleau High School. Carr is coached by Alexandre Shostak, a two-time Olympian for Belarus, at ACES Club Gymnastics. Carr received national academic honors in 2003 and enjoyed a Class I State Championship in the all-around the same year.
“For the third time in the past three years, we will welcome in a recruit that currently has a brother on the team,” said Williams. “Garrett is a tremendous asset to add to our team for the 2005-06 season and we look forward to watching him develop into a collegiate gymnast.”
The current Sooners’ roster sports a pair of brothers; senior David Henderson and junior Jamie Henderson and senior Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons and freshman Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons.
The final recruit set to join the program is Kyle McNamara from Littleton, Colo. McNamara is coached by Vladimir Artemov at the 5280 Gymnastics Club (formerly known as Mile High Gymnastics). He attends Heritage High School and had a successful year of competing in 2003. Last year he was the Colorado State Champion in the all-around and was also the Regional Champion on the vault and high bar in 2003. In addition, McNamara qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championships in 2003.
“Kyle comes from an exceptional program noted for its outstanding gymnastics technique,” said Williams. “As a coaching staff, we will hope to expand upon Kyle’s skill development and look forward to him adding depth to our team next season.”
This marks the second consecutive year that Williams has signed established U.S. National Team members. Last year’s signing class included two U.S. Senior National Team members, Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and Jonathan Horton. Both Horton and Abdullah Simmons competed at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.
The 2004-05 Sooners open the regular season on Jan. 14-15 in Colorado, Springs, Colo., at the Rocky Mountain Open, before hosting their first home meet on Jan. 28 inside the Lloyd Noble Center.2004 Schedule Link