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Men's Gymnastics At Michigan Saturday
January 22, 2005

Michigan Preview
The Sooners return to the floor Saturday when they travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face the No. 3 ranked Michigan Wolverines.

The Sooners are fresh off a first place finish at last weekend's Rocky Mountain Open.  The Sooners  outpaced the competition in each event and combined for a 215.425 score to keep their regular season unbeaten streak alive. OU has defeated its last 28 regular season opponents dating back to its last loss, March 9, 2002 at Stanford. 

Weekly Release (PDF)

Individually, the Sooners were led by junior Jamie Henderson and freshman Jonathan Horton.  The two combined for three first place finishes while their teammates put together five other top-five finishes.

Michigan comes into the meet after defeating Big 10 conference foe Iowa, 219.200-215.450, last Saturday in Ann Arbor.  The Wolverines were led by junior Justin Laury and senior Eddie Umphrey who won two titles each.

"The Michigan meet will be a good test early on in the season," said OU head coach Mark Williams.  "They are a program that is always in the top five and being on the road, it will be a test of our character.  We have to score better than the first meet.  We had a disaster on the pommel horse but we have some guys coming back, so hopefully we will be more consistent and excel in the last couple events."

Prior to the meet with Iowa, Michigan had finished third at the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 8.  The Wolverines scored 218.225 for third place, behind winner Illinois (221.800) and runner-up Ohio State (220.100). Iowa (217.300) placed fourth, Minnesota (212.750) grabbed the fifth spot and host Illinois-Chicago (205.325) rounded out the field of six teams.

The Wolverines are coached by Kurt Golder, who is in his ninth season at the helm.  Golder led his team to fifth place finish at the 2004 NCAA Championships.  

The meet is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. (CST) at Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Rocky Mountain Open Team Recap
The University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team opened the 2005 season in successful fashion with a first-place finish over Nebraska and the Air Force Academy at the Rocky Mountain Open in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday.

The No. 1 Sooners (2-0) outpaced the competition in each event and combined for a 215.425 score to keep their regular season unbeaten streak alive. OU has defeated its last 28 regular season opponents dating back to its last loss, March 9, 2002 at Stanford.

Season Preview

OU recorded 35.65 on the floor exercise, 34.425 on the pommel horse, 36.5 on the still rings, 36.2 on the vault, 36.35 on the parallel bars and a 36.3 on the high bar. Nebraska finished second in the competition (206.625) and Air Force was third (184.7).

“We had a really solid meet until our final event, the pommel horse, which really cost us from having a high score,” said OU head coach Mark Williams. “Other than that one event, we appear to be on track for this time of the year. We expect a lot of good things from this team once it becomes healthy.”

Rocky Mountain Open Individual Recap
University of Oklahoma junior Jamie Henderson and freshman Jonathan Horton headlined day two of the Rocky Mountain Open in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday. The two combined for three first place finishes while their teammates put together five other top-five finishes.

Henderson, a two-time All-American on the still rings, tallied a 9.6 with his performance on the rings, which was good enough for first-place honors.

Horton took first place on two events, one day after taking second in the all-around during Friday’s team finals. Horton recorded a 9.4 on the floor exercise and a 9.05 on the parallel bars to take the top spot on the podium in the respective events. Horton rounded things off with a fourth place finish on the vault in which he recorded a 9.0.

Senior Josh Gore also placed in the top five on two events. The 2004 All-American on the parallel bars finished third on Saturday in the event with an 8.8. Gore also went on to take second place on the pommel horse with a 9.2.

Junior James Myers finished second on the high bar for the second consecutive year at the Rocky Mountain Event Finals. Myers’ routine was good for a 9.35. Senior Brian Trause was also solid with a second place finish on the parallel bars.

Trause, like Gore, was an All-American in 2004 on the parallel bars and tallied an 8.95 on Saturday, good for second place.

Sooner Notes
Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons- Will see first action of season vs. Michigan.
Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons- Will see first action of season vs. Michigan.
Brian Carr- Set a new career high last week on pommel horse with a 9.375.
Kyle Fernandez- Will not compete vs. Michigan.
Michael Gehart- Competed on rings and high bar in Rocky Mountain Open.
Josh Gore-  Finished second and third on pommel horse and parallel bars, respectively.
David Henderson- Will not compete vs. Michigan.
Jamie Henderson-  Took first at Rocky Mountain Open on still rings during team competition.
Jonathan Horton-  Placed first on floor exercise and parallel bars at Rocky Mountain Open.
David Iammatteo- Tied for fifth on the vault at Rocky Mountain Open during team competition.
Jacob Messina- Competed in the all-around at the Rocky Mountain Open during team competition.
James Myers-  Placed second on the high bar with a score of 9.350.
Brian Trause-  Finished second on the parallel bars behind teammate Horton in the individual finals.
Joseph Weaver- Competed on still rings, parallel bars and floor exercise at Rocky Mountain Open.

Freshmen Impressive in Colorado
In their first action wearing the crimson and cream, freshmen Jonathan Horton and Jacob Messina came away with impressive showings.  Both competed in the all-around competition with Horton finishing second with a score of 53.900 and Messina came in fifth with a score of 51.900. 

Horton, a U.S. Senior National Team member, finished first individually on the floor exercise and the parallel bars.  Horton also placed third on the still rings. 

Messina also qualified for individual competition, competing on the pommel horse and the still rings, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively. 

Fellow freshman Joseph Weaver contributed on the floor exercise, still rings and the parallel bars during team competition.

OU's fourth freshman, Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, did not compete in the Rocky Mountain Open.

Sooners in International Competition
Two members of the University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team participated in separate international competitions last weekend.  Freshmen Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and Jonathan Horton travelled overseas for their first international meets since becoming U.S. Senior National Team members.

Horton put together an impressive performance at the 2004 Pan American Championships in Venezuela.  He qualified for the event finals by finishing in the top eight on Friday in all three events he was competing on (still rings, vault and high bar).  During Saturday’s competition, Horton took first place on the vault with a 9.365 score.  In addition, he then went on to place second on rings (9.40) and third on high bar (9.25).

Unfortunately for Abdullah-Simmons, he suffered a minor injury to his left ankle and did not compete at the 2004 Chunichi Cup in Japan.  He is expected to be back to 100 percent when the Sooners open the season next month.

Preseason Coaches Poll
The Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team, coming off a NCAA National runner-up season in 2004, was voted No. 1 in the GymInfo Coaches’ preseason coaches poll. The Sooners got five first-place votes, ahead of No. 2 Illinois which received four first-place votes.  OU has ranked in the top five of the preseason poll over each of the last eight seasons and were No. 1 in 2003 and 2002.

"This is possibly the best team we have had on paper, but in order to prove that, we have to get the whole team on the floor at the same time,”  Williams said.

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