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Sooners Headed to U.S. Qualifiers
June 24, 2005

NORMAN, Okla.   The University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team is sending three athletes along with head coach Mark Williams to the U.S. Qualifier on Saturday, June 25.  The event will be held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

Senior Jamie Henderson will be competing in the event along with sophomores Jonathan Horton and Jacob Messina.  Both Henderson and Messina will be competing in the all-around and fighting to advance through the process of being selected for the U.S. National Team.   Horton, who qualified for a spot on the team in February, will only be competing on the floor exercise, pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar.

For Henderson, it will be his third time to compete in the event, Horton’s second time around and Messina will be competing for the first time.

“This is just the beginning of the process of being selected to the U.S. National Team and it is important for the gymnasts to be in good form in order to advance to the next step,” said Williams.   I am looking forward to see how they perform because they have the ability to compete strongly this weekend. This is an honor for all three of them to represent the university at this competition and another great experience that will help them in future national and international events.” 
 
The event, which has two sessions and a 76-man field, is the last opportunity for gymnasts to advance to the 2005 Visa Championships, August 10-13, in Indianapolis, Ind.  Six U.S. Men’s National Team members are a part of the field, including Horton.

Gymnasts may advance to the Visa Championships from the U.S. Qualifier through several different options, including the top seven all-around gymnasts in the standings; the top three finishers in each event; and/or the top finishers in a combination of two, three, four and five events. Those who qualify for the Visa Championships are expected to be announced following the conclusion of the competition.

“This event is very important to the country’s top male gymnasts,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “The U.S. Qualifier is their avenue to the Visa Championships, which is the precursor for selection to the national team and participation in this year’s World Championships. For fans, it is a great opportunity to see our top athletes and rising stars.”

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