Winter Cup Preview
Three Sooners will be representing the University of Oklahoma this weekend in the prestigious Winter Cup in Las Vegas, Nev. The event, held in the Sports Center Arena, will determine six of the spots on the 2005 Men's U.S. National Team.
Jamie Henderson, Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and Jonathan Horton along with OU head coach Mark Williams will travel to Vegas for Friday and Saturday's competition. Abdullah-Simmons and Horton will compete on Friday in session one at 5:30 p.m. (CST), while Henderson will start at 10 p.m. (CST) in session two.
"The Cup is basically a one day competition, so your routine has to have difficulty and you have to be consistent," said OU head coach Mark Williams. "Taqiy will probably only be competing in four events due to his ankle, but the U.S. committee selects the team, so hopefully they'll keep that in mind. Jonathan is coming off a great meet vs. Air Force and he has been consistent all season, so hopefully he will continue his run. Jamie is a little bit short of the group in the all-around, but he has a great shot of making the team on the still rings, high bar and pommel horse."
The meet will have two sessions on Friday, each with athletes competing in the all-around competition. From those first two sessions, the top eight gymnasts from each event qualify for the third session, starting Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (CST). The Winter Cup participation is based on results from the athletes' previous meets.
To begin session one, Abdullah-Simmons and Horton will be on the high bar. Henderson will be starting on the floor exercise in session two.
Session two consists of participants from the senior all-around finals competition from the 2004 U.S. Championships (except Senior National Team Members), Junior Elite National Team Members (14-15 & 16-18 age division), participants from the 2004 NCAA Championships all-around finals competition and approved petitions. Session one consists of Senior National Team Members, all pre-qualified athletes not meeting the criteria for participation in Session two and approved petitions.
A free live audio webcast of the Winter Cup will be available on www.usa-gymnastics.org. The webcast, which will be hosted by John Roethlisberger and Jay Thornton, comes on Friday night at 7:30 (CST) and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (CST).
Air Force Recap
The University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team got back to its winning ways Friday in Norman, defeating Air Force 218.700-188.000. Oklahoma not only dominated the team competition, but the individual competition as well, sweeping the top spots in every event.
No. 4 Oklahoma outpaced Air Force in each of the six team events and set a school record on the parallel bars with a score of 37.400, topping the previous mark of 37.000 set on April 12, 2003.
“I think as a team we made some improvements tonight,” said OU head coach Mark Williams. “We came through on the parallel bars setting a team record and our last sets on the high bar were exciting as well. I think this team is starting to head in the right direction, our level of intensity has improved and the team has bounced back from the Michigan loss.”
Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons set a career record on the parallel bars with a 9.4, while Josh Gore and Jonathan Horton tied their career highs with a 9.4 and a 9.45, respectively.
Individually, the Sooners were led by Horton who finished first on the floor exercise (9.5) and the parallel bars (9.45), second on the high bar (9.45) and third on the pommel horse (8.7). The freshman had a career high on the floor exercise with a 9.5 and tied his career high on the parallel bars with a 9.45. Horton, a 2004 U.S. Senior National Team member, has led the Sooners in each of the first three meets of the season.
“Jonathan Horton really showed some stuff tonight on the parallel bars, floor exercise and high bar,” added Williams. “He is really going to have an exciting career for us.”
As a team, the Sooners also set season highs on floor exercise (36.150) and high bar (37.300).
In preparation for next week’s Winter Cup, Williams rested three of his top gymnasts on Friday to get them ready for the competition that determines the six spots on the 2005 U.S. Senior National Team. Jamie Henderson, Horton and Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons saw action against Air Force but did not compete in the all-around. They will all take part in the 2005 Winter Cup, featuring some of the nation’s top gymnasts, held in Las Vegas, Nev., on Feb. 4-5 at the Sports Center Arena. The first day of competition will feature the all-around finals and the top eight gymnasts on each event will qualify for day two’s action to determine the individual event winners.
“We had a couple of guys back for the first time this season, David Henderson and Kyle Fernandez, and they really gave us some energy,” said Williams. “We kept a couple of our guys out the all-around in preparation for the Winter Cup next weekend, but we expect to have our best lineup on the floor when we compete against Nebraska at the Cox Center.”
Sooners Host Nebraska in Oklahoma City
The No. 4 Sooners will next take on No. 11 Nebraska, Feb. 13, at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The meet, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. (CST), will also coincide with the University of Oklahoma women's team taking to the University of Georgia.
The Sooners and the Cornhuskers have previously competed this season in the Rocky Mountain Open. The Huskers placed second in that meet, finishing behind Oklahoma 215.425-206.625.
Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons- Set a career high on the vault (9.05) vs. Air Force.
Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons- Finished second on the parallel bars (9.4) and on pommel horse (8.85) vs. Air Force.
Brian Carr- Finished first on the vault (9.15) and third on the pommel horse (8.7) vs. Air Force.
Kyle Fernandez- In first action of season vs. Air Force, finished second on the rings (9.0).
Michael Gehart- Did not compete vs. Air Force.
Josh Gore- Finished first and set a season high on the pommel horse (9.5) vs. Air Force.
David Henderson- In first action of season vs. Air Force, finished first on rings (9.55) and on the vault (9.15).
Jamie Henderson- Set a season high and nabbed first place with a 9.6 vs. Air Force.
Jonathan Horton- Finished first on the floor exercise (9.5) and parallel bars (9.45), second on the high bar (9.45) and third on the pommel horse (8.7) vs. Air Force.
David Iammatteo- Finished second on the floor exercise (9.05) vs. Air Force.
Jacob Messina- Did not see action vs. Air Force.
James Myers- Set a career high on the floor exercise (8.8) en route to finishing third vs. Air Force.
Brian Trause- Set a season high on the parallel bars with a 9.15 vs. Air Force.
Joseph Weaver- Set a career high on the vault (8.65) vs. Air Force.