COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The eighth conference championship in the last 10 years came on Saturday for the second-ranked Oklahoma men's gymnastics team behind a dominating performance by junior Jake Dalton, who collected four individual titles.
OU won its 19th conference title after posting a 356.600 at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championship at the Air Force Academy. Since head coach Mark Williams took over the program in 2000, the Sooners have claimed 10 MPSF team titles.
Defending MPSF champion No. 3 Stanford took second with a 352.100 followed by No. 7 California (345.950) and No. 12 Air Force (335.950). The MPSF is a hybrid conference for school's that belong to conferences which don't sponsor men's gymnastics.
"We're really excited," said OU Head Coach Mark Williams. "The guys stringed together a great competition and really stepped it up to put together a fantastic performance, from the first guy that went to the very end. We're going to enjoy this one through tonight and start thinking about the NCAA Championship tomorrow."
Following the meet, Williams was named the MPSF's Coach of the Year.
Dalton, who was crowned the conference's Gymnast of the Year, claimed his second-straight MPSF all-around title with a 89.250 in a dominant performance. Dalton placed in the top-two in all five of the events he counted, with conference titles on rings, parallel bars and high bar and second-place finishes on floor and vault.
With Dalton's four conference titles, the Sooners now have 111 individual conference titles, including 42 under Williams.
"Today went really," said Dalton. "Today was all about the team, with everybody going in there and doing our job. I tried to make myself a part of that, doing my job. Everybody backed me up and I backed them up, just like our team is supposed to do."
"The season isn't over though," added Dalton. "We have one more meet and it's the big one. We still have work to do."
With the conference title, the Sooners will join 11 other programs at the NCAA Championships at OU's own Lloyd Noble Center, beginning with a team qualifier on Thursday, April 19. The top three teams from the two qualifying sessions will advance to the team finals on Friday, April 20 followed by the individual event finals on Saturday, April 21.
The Sooners are undefeated when hosting the NCAA Championships, winning national titles at the LNC in 2002 and 2006. Overall, Oklahoma has won eight national titles, including five under Williams.
Oklahoma took an early lead in the first rotation by posting a 59.950 on rings behind Dalton's 15.300 and Troy Nitzky's 15.150. The Sooners kept it rolling in the second rotation with a 59.200 on vault. Dalton led the Sooners with a 15.150 followed by Patrick Piscitelli's 14.950 and Raymond White's 14.600.
OU posted its second-best parallel bars score of the season (59.200) behind Dalton's 15.300 and Danny Berardini's career-high 15.050.
Oklahoma scored its second-best high bar score of the year in the fourth rotation with a 58.750. Dalton led the Sooners with a 15.200 along with Akers' 14.800. Dalton then nailed a 15.800 on floor exercise to lead the Sooners to a 60.950 event total.
Carrying a 297.850-292.800 lead over Stanford into the final rotation, the Sooners needed a big night on its weakest event, pommel horse, to hold off the defending MPSF and NCAA champs.
Oklahoma stepped up and totaled a 57.750 on horse behind Nitzky's career-high 14.650 to seal the conference title.
Tickets to the 2012 NCAA Championships are available at SoonerSports.com or by calling (800) 456-GoOU.