Nov. 26, 2001

NORMAN, Okla. - The Oklahoma men's gymnastics team has been selected as the nation's top team in the Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Sooners received nine of the 17 first-place votes which were cast, and following Oklahoma in the preseason rankings is Michigan, Ohio State, California-Berkley and Illinois. Rounding out the top ten is Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Stanford.

Coming off a 2001 season which saw OU miss winning the national championship by a fraction of a point to Ohio State, the Sooners are the favorite to win the NCAA title which will be decided at the Lloyd Noble Center on April 4-6, 2002.

With just three departed gymnasts from a year ago, the team is expected to be led by seniors Ryan Hillyer and Everette Bierker and junior Daniel Furney. In all, the team has six returning All-Americans, including junior Brett Covey (still rings), Furney (pommel horse and still rings), Hillyer (high bar) and junior Josh Landis (pommel horse and floor exercise).

"We are excited to be the preseason No. 1 team in the nation," said Oklahoma Head Coach Mark Williams. "It is very nice to be recognized for our success in previous years and we hope to finish the season on top as well. We know we have to keep working hard and we realize there is a lot of gymnastics between now and the NCAA Championships."

The Sooners begin their quest for the 2002 national championship with the Red/White Intrasquad on Dec. 8 at the Sam Viersen Center. Iowa and Air Force visit Norman for the first dual meet of the year on Jan. 20.

2002 Preseason Coaches' Poll

1.  Oklahoma (9 first-place votes)

2.  Michigan (2)

3.  Ohio State (3)

4.  California-Berkley (3)

5.  Illinois

6.  Penn State

7.  Iowa

8.  Minnesota

9.  Nebraska

10. Stanford

11. Massachusetts

12. Temple

13. William & Mary

14. Army

15. Illinois-Chicago

16. Navy

17. Air Force

18. California-Santa Barbara

19. Springfield

20. Southern Connecticut