No. 4 Men's Gymnastics Hosts Nebraska

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 09, 2005

Nebraska Preview
The University of Oklahoma will resume team competition Sunday, Feb. 13, with a meet against the University of Nebraska at 4 p.m. (CST) in the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.  Both teams did not compete last week, but had individual gymnasts competing in the 2005 Winter Cup in Las Vegas, Nev.

OU's Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, Jamie Henderson and Jonathan Horton all competed in last weekend's event.  In Friday night's all-around, Henderson finished 10th and Horton finished eighth, while Abdullah-Simmons only competed in four events due to an ankle injury.  In Saturday night's event finals, Horton was the only OU representative and tied for first on the floor exercise and finished fourth on the vault.  His performance was good enough to earn a spot on the 2005 U.S. Men's Senior National Team for the second straight year.

Weekly Release (PDF)

As a team, the Sooners come into the meet with a record of 3-1.  In their most recent competition (Jan. 28), they defeated Air Force University 218.700-188.000.  It was the second win of the year versus the Falcons and the Sooners other victory came against Nebraska.  OU's lone loss of the year came to No. 3 Michigan.

The Huskers and the Sooners are already familiar with each other this year, the MPSF rivals met once this year in the Rocky Mountain Open, in which OU finished first (215.425) and Nebraska was second (206.625).  The two teams will also meet again next week (Feb. 20) when the Sooners travel to Lincoln.

"This will be a much-improved Nebraska team compared to the last time we saw them at the Rocky Mountain Open," said OU head coach Mark Williams.  "They had a couple of key guys that were out in their first meet and they will have a better lineup this time around.  They are a conference rival and obviously every conference meet is big."

The University of Nebraska enters the meet led by senior captains Mace Patterson and Tony Burtle.  The majority of Nebraska's roster comes from its junior and sophomore classes.  The Huskers also had competitors in last weekend's Winter Cup, sophomore Paul Chumreonlert and freshman Stephen Ttrault.  Ttrault tied for eighth on the vault (9.333) and Chumreonlert finished 11th on the pommel horse (9.0). 

The University of Nebraska is coached by Francis Allen, who is in his 36th year as head coach of the Huskers.  Allen, who was a United State Olympic coach in 1980 and 1992, put together a 10-14 season in 2004 and finished fourth in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. 

Horton Named to U.S. National Team
On Saturday, OU freshman gymnast Jonathan Horton was one of nine individuals selected to the 2005 U.S. Men’s Senior National Team.  The freshman competed on the floor exercise and the vault, a day after qualifying for the two events in Friday’s all-around competitions.  He tied for first on the floor (8.95) and fourth on the vault (8.975) to earn his spot for the second-consecutive year as one of the nation’s top gymnasts.

“His performance in the event finals secured his position on the team after Friday night’s all-around,” said OU head coach Mark Williams.  “Jonathan is a young, up-and-comer.  He is very aggressive in his routines and he could be the future of USA Gymnastics.”

In Friday night’s all-around, Horton finished eighth with a score of 51.181 and he qualified for the finals on the floor exercise and the vault by finishing in the top eight.  The next national competition for Horton will be the 2005 Visa Championships, August 10-13 in Indianapolis, Ind.  The event will determine national champions in respective events and who will represent the U.S. in international competitions.

This level of competition is not new to Horton, as he was a member of the 2004 U.S. Senior National Team with current OU teammate Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and assistant coach Guard Young.

Horton competed in last year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials and Visa U.S. Championships.  Prior to that experience, Horton was a member of the U.S. Junior National Team, winning the junior all-around at 2003 U.S. Championships and the 2002 Junior Nationals.

“At this point of the season, the Winter Cup is the best competition we’ve had, it was very well contested,” added Williams.  “There has recently been a change in the scoring and some athletes have adjusted and the scores reflect that.  This competition was a good indication for the championships in August.”

Winter Cup All-Around Recap
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 the 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. 

Sooner Notes
Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons- Set a career high on the vault (9.05) vs. Air Force.
Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons- Coming off four-event performance at the Winter Cup.
Brian Carr- Finished first on the vault (9.15) and third on the pommel horse (8.7) vs. Air Force.
Kyle Fernandez- In first action of season vs. Air Force, finished second on the rings (9.0).
Michael Gehart- Looking to contribute after sitting out vs. Air Force due to illness.
Josh Gore- Finished first and set a season high on the pommel horse (9.5) vs. Air Force.
David Henderson- In first action of season vs. Air Force, finished first on rings (9.55) and on the vault (9.15).
Jamie Henderson- Finished 10th in the all-around at Winter Cup.  
Jonathan Horton- Named to U.S. Men's Senior National Team.
David Iammatteo- Finished second on the floor exercise (9.05) vs. Air Force.
Jacob Messina- Looking to contibute after sitting out vs. Air Force due to illness.
James Myers- Set a career high on the floor exercise (8.8) en route to finishing third vs. Air Force.
Brian Trause- Set a season high on the parallel bars with a 9.15 vs. Air Force. 
Joseph Weaver- Set a career high on the vault (8.65) vs. Air Force.

Nebraska Connections
OU head coach Mark Williams attended Nebraska and competed in gymnastics from 1977-1980.  During his time as a Husker, Williams received All-America honors on the high bar (1978) in addition to the two national championship titles he earned with his team (1979, 1980).  Williams graduated from Nebraska with a bachelor's degree in secondary education/english.

OU freshman Jonathan Horton and Nebraska's Adam Tietze both trained at the same gym, Cypress Academy of Gymnastics, prior to their college careers.



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