NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team, coming off a second place finish at the 2004 NCAA National Championship, was voted No. 1 in the GymInfo Coaches’ preseason poll released today. The Sooners received five first-place votes followed by Illinois (4), Penn State (2) and Ohio State (2). OU has ranked in the top five of the preseason poll over each of the last eight seasons.
The last time OU was voted No. 1 in the preseason was in 2002 and 2003 when the Sooners won back-to-back National Championships.
“This is an honor to be recognized by the opposing coaches,” said Oklahoma head coach Mark Williams. “This poll tells us that the other coaches are projecting OU to have another strong team. With that said, that does not mean we don’t have a lot of work to do in order to achieve the potential of this team. Our goal is to get better each week of the season and contend for a conference championship and then another NCAA Championship.”
This season, the Sooners return four All-Americans from last year’s team. Senior David Henderson headlines that group and is a captain this season for OU. Henderson collected two All-America honors last season in the all-around and still rings (All-American in 2002 on rings). His brother, Jamie (a junior this season) is also a two-time All-American on the still rings (2002, 2003). Seniors Josh Gore (2004 All-American on the parallel bars) and Brian Trause (2004 All-American on the parallel bars) complete the list of Sooners collecting honors at last year’s NCAA Championships.
OU will also be joined by two accomplished newcomers in 2005. Freshmen Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and Jonathan Horton both participated at the past U.S. Olympic Trials and are part of a talented recruiting class that should contribute immediately for Williams’ squad.
The No. 1 Sooners will open up the 2005 season with the Rocky Mountain Open in Colorado Springs, Colo., on January 14 and 15. OU will compete in its first home meet on Jan. 28 when the Air Force Academy comes to the Lloyd Noble Center.
The following is a complete list of the Top-10 as selected in the preseason by the coaches: