NORMAN, Okla. - In late action on Friday, OU freshman gymnast Jonathan Horton qualified for the Winter Cup event finals in Las Vegas, Nev. Horton, competing with fellow Sooners Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and Jamie Henderson, finished eighth (51.181) in the all-around competition. Horton did manage to finish fourth on the floor exercise (8.916) and 12th on the vault (9.266), good enough to put him into Saturday night’s event finals on those two events.
The Winter Cup determines six of the spots on the 2005 U.S. Men’s Senior National Team. Current members of the team include last year’s Olympic team, including OU assistant coach Guard Young, and two alternates.
“Jonathan had a pretty good meet, except for the pommel horse where he had a fall,” said OU head coach Mark Williams. “Overall, he is going to have make improvements if he wants to be in the top group of the country, but considering where he is at in his collegiate career, he has plenty of time to improve and get to the top level.”
Junior Jamie Henderson finished two spots behind Horton at 10th in the all-around, but did not qualify for the event finals. Freshman Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons did not compete on the floor exercise or the vault due to an injured ankle and his highest finish was on the parallel bars (27th).
“Jamie had a good meet, he was very consistent,” said OU head coach Mark Williams. “He needs to increase his difficulty on the floor exercise and the vault, but I’m really proud of his effort. Once he address his weaknesses, he will be able to move up to the next level.
“Taqiy’s meet was a disappointment, he wasn’t able to compete on the floor exercise or the vault due to his ankle. He has the potential, but he has to start working harder in the gym to he wants to compete at this level.”
In 2004, Horton and Abdullah-Simmons were members of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team.
The event finals start Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. (CST) in the Sports Center Arena in Las Vegas. 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 Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (CST).