Jan. 3, 2002
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Sooner Men Enter 2002 as Nation's Top-Ranked Team
Oklahoma narrowly missed winning the fourth national championship in school history a year ago, finishing just decimal points behind NCAA Championship host Ohio State. This year, however, the Sooners are beginning the season on top of the National Coaches Poll. In the poll, which was released in early November, the Sooners garnered nine of the 17 first-place votes. Michigan received two first-place votes and was rated second, while Ohio State and California each received three first-place votes, good for third and fourth in the poll, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 are: Illinois, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Stanford. "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.
Oklahoma to Host National Championships
For the first time in history, the NCAA Gymnastics Championships are coming to Oklahoma. On April 4-6, the University of Oklahoma will be hosting the nation's best, as the national championship will be awarded at the Lloyd Noble Center. Last season, Ohio State hosted the national meet and won the championship. Oklahoma is hoping for a repeat of that "home cooking" in 2002.
Sooners Have A National Presence
Oklahoma has won three consecutive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, and will be looking to "four-peat" in 2002. The conference features such national powers as California-Berkley, Nebraska and Air Force. Mark Williams is entering his third season at the helm of the Sooner program, and will be looking for his third MPSF Coach of the Year award, as well. In his two seasons so far, he has amassed an impressive record of 39-6 (.867). Oklahoma had 10 All-Americans in 2001. Four of the six award-winning gymnasts return this season, including senior Ryan Hillyer and juniors Brett Covey, Josh Landis and Daniel Furney.
Sooners Also Star On International Stage
Oklahoma assistant coach Guard Young had quite an offseason. He finished fourth overall at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships and then represented the United States at the Pan American Gymnastics Championships in Cancun, Mexico. The culmination of his international experiences in 2001 was taking part in the World Championships in Ghent, Belgium. He wore the red, white and blue of the U.S. and helped the squad win the silver medal. It was the highest finish ever for an American team. Sophomore Jock Stevens also took part in the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. It was sure to have been the start of a bright international career for the Moore, Okla., native.