Men's Gymnastics Hosts Air Force

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 26, 2005

Air Force Preview
The Sooners hit the Lloyd Noble Center this Friday when they host Air Force in the first home meet of the 2005 schedule.

The Sooners are coming off their first loss of the season, last Saturday, to No. 3 Michigan.  The Wolverines defeated the Sooners 222.275-219.050.  The loss snapped OU's regular season win streak of 28.  Prior to Saturday's loss, OU had not lost a meet since March 9, 2002, at Stanford.

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Individually, the Sooners were led by senior Josh Gore and freshman Jonathan Horton.  The two combined for two first place finishes and three second place finishes.

Air Force comes into the meet seeking its first win of the season.  The Falcons have a roster comprised of mostly underclassmen, with six freshmen and five sophomores.  The rest of Air Force's roster consists of one senior and two juniors.

"We are excited for our meet with Air Force," said OU head coach Mark Williams.  "It is the first time this season that we will get to compete at home and it will give the fans a chance to see the new team.  Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons will be debuting in the all-around and it will be a good opportunity for us to better ourselves and build off of the first two competitions."

So far this season, the Falcons have finished third in both meets they have competed in, the Rocky Mountain Open and the Cardinal Invitational.  At the Rocky Mountain Open, Air Force placed behind Oklahoma in first place and Nebraska in second, with a score of 184.700.  At the Cardinal Open in Palo Alto, Calif., the Falcons bettered their score with 185.600, but had the same result finishing behind California and host Stanford.

The Falcons are coached by Lou Burkel, who is in his 23rd season at the helm.  Burkel, who is also a member of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors has a career coaching record of 115-104.

The meet is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (CST) and the gates will open one hour prior to the start.  The first 250 fans will receive OU men's gymnastics schedule cards and posters.

Michigan Recap
The University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team (2-1) lost Saturday night in Ann Arbor, Mich., to No. 3 ranked Michigan (5-2) 222.275-219.050.  It was the first regular season loss for the Sooners since March 9, 2002, against Stanford, they had previously defeated 28 straight opponents.

“We improved quite a bit (from last week) on our team score and gave Michigan a good run tonight,” said Oklahoma head coach Mark Williams. “They were obviously the better team and we still have some work to do. I think they now have the top score in the nation for the current season. I definitely think we are going to become more competitive as the season progresses and improve on our consistency.”

The No. 7 Sooners were outscored in all but one team event, the still rings, where OU topped the Wolverines 37.300-36.550.  Freshman Jonathan Horton highlighted the event with a 9.600 score, good for first place.  He also picked up second in the all-around (54.150) and tied for second on the vault (9.300) with UM’s Geoff Corrigan.  Horton’s 9.600 on the rings and his scores in the all-around and on the vault were all career records for the freshman.

“He was good on rings but struggled on some events and could probably could have won all-around,” added Williams. “He had three good events and three bad events but he is doing a good job of handling the pressure of doing the all-around for us. It is a lot of pressure right now and he is a freshman and needs more time . I am obviously pleased with his work ethic and a lot of his problems will iron themselves out as he gains more collegiate experience.”

Senior Josh Gore was the only other first place finisher for the Sooners, tying for first on the pommel horse with UM’s Paul Woodward.  Gore’s score of 9.450 was a career high, beating his previous mark of 9.200.  He also finished second on the parallel bars with a score 9.250

Junior Jamie Henderson was third in the all-around with 53.225,  tied for third on the still rings with a 9.400 and took fifth on the high bar with a 9.375. 

“We are going to approach next weekend a little differently because we have some guys training for Winter Cup (Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, Jonathan Horton and Jamie Henderson),” added Williams. “Some of the other guys will get a chance to compete against Air Force, but we will try and get Taqiy accustomed to doing the all-around for the first time this season before the Winter Cup.”

Select Sooners Travel to Vegas for Winter Cup
Three Oklahoma gymnasts will be traveling to Las Vegas, Nev., the weekend of February 4-5 at the Sports Center Arena.  Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, Jonathan Horton and Jamie Henderson will be representing the Sooners in the prestigious event that determines six of the spots on the 2005 Men's U.S. National Team.

Abdullah-Simmons and Horton will be competing in Friday's first session and Henderson will compete during session two, alson on Friday.  The top eight gymnasts in each event qualify for Saturday's individual event finals.

"The Winter Cup is an important meet because it is a ranking meet for the U.S. Gymnastics Team," said OU head coach Mark Williams.  "Jonathan Horton and Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons will have a chance to remake the team based on their performance at the cup and Jamie Henderson is going to try to grab one of the six spots that are up for grabs."

Sooner Notes
Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons - Set a career high, 9.1, on the high bar vs. Michigan.
Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons - In first action as a Sooner, finished third on the parallel bars (9.15) vs. Michigan.
Brian Carr - Tied for third on the pommel horse (9.35) vs. Michigan.
Kyle Fernandez - Will not compete vs. Air Force.
Michael Gehart - Set a career high, 9.1, on the high bar vs. Michigan.
Josh Gore - Tied for first on pommel horse (9.45) and finished second on the parallel bars (9.25) vs. Michigan.
David Henderson - Has yet to see action this season.
Jamie Henderson - Third in the all-around (53.225) and third on the still rings (9.4) vs. Michigan.
Jonathan Horton - First on rings (9.6), second in all-around (54.150) and on vault (9.3) vs. Michigan.
David Iammatteo - Third on the floor exercise (9.175) vs. Michigan.
Jacob Messina - Set career highs on floor exercise (8.85) and pommel horse (8.95) vs. Michigan.
James Myers - Set a career high of 8.65 on the floor exercise vs. Michigan.
Brian Trause - Finished fourth on the parallel bars (9.1) vs. Michigan.
Joseph Weaver - Improved career high on the floor exercise to 8.85 vs. Michigan.




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