Oklahoma Men's And Women's Gymnastics Ready For 2001 Season

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 10, 2001

Jan. 10, 2001

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Men's Team Looking Strong
The men's squad, coming off last season's 22-8 mark and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, could expect even bigger things this year.

The Sooners are fueled by the return of four All-Americans (seniors Brendan O'Neil and Steve Van Etten, junior David Johnston and sophomore Josh Landis).

The team loses only three letterwinners from last year's squad and returns 33 of their 36 routines from the 2000 nationals.

In addition, OU Head Coach Mark Williams has signed three of the top 10 finishers from the 2000 Junior National Championships. The list includes John Goodwin, two-time junior national champion, Heath Mueller and Jacque Stevens. Stevens and Mueller finished second and ninth, repsectively, at last year's Junior National Championships.

Women's Squad Picked 21st In Preseason Poll
With the return of five letterwinners, the Oklahoma women's team was picked 21st in the NACGC preseason poll.

OU finished last season 12-9, sixth at the NCAA Regionals in Corvallis, Ore.

Season Debuts
The women kick off their season first in a dual meet with Texas Woman's University Friday in Denton, Texas, beginning at 7 p.m.

TWU finished the 2000 regular season 6-12, but were 10-0 in the postseason and captured the USAG Collegiate Championship.

The Sooners won all three meeting with the Pioneers last season.

The men will not open the 2001 season until Jan. 19 when they travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. to compete in the Rocky Mountain Open.

Coaching Excellence
Mark Williams, who began last season as OU's Interim Head Coach, had the label dropped after last year's 22-8 record and fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

During the fall, Williams added Yuan Xiao, former Chinese National Team coach, and Guard Young, a former six-time All-American and national champion gymnast at BYU, to his staff.

On the women's side, Becky Buwick, who is stepping down after this year following 18 seasons at the helm, will coach this season along side women's gymnastics coaching legend Steve Nunno. Both will serve as co-head coaches. Nunno, who takes over full responsibilities next year, was an assistant coach for the U.S. team in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and head coach for the Americans at the 1993 and 1994 World Championships.

Also back is fourth-year assistant Nilson Savage. Savage, a native Brazilian, is an intregal part to the program's recruitment of international gymnasts.

International Importance
Three of the top gymnasts on the OU women's team all hail from Sao Paulo, Brazil: junior Mariana Goncalves and sophomores Patricia Aoki and Leticia Ishii.

Ishii claimed four all-around titles in 2000 and holds the school record in the AA (39.000). She was ranked as high as No. 8 nationally in the all-around last year.

Aoki was OU's lone gymnast to compete in every competition last season and Goncalves registered the highest bar average (9.861) of any Sooner in 2000.

Big 12 Championships
For the first time since 1997, the University of Oklahoma will be hosting the Big 12 Women's Gymnastics Championships.

The event will take place March 23 and 24, 2001, at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. The Lloyd Noble Center is located at the southwest corner of the Imhoff Rd. and Jenkins Ave. intersection, just north of Highway 9.

Four teams - Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma - will compete in the championships. Iowa State won the conference crown last year in Ames, Iowa.

Tickets for the meet are five dollars for adults and two dollars for children (12 and under). For more information, call the University of Oklahoma Athletic Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668.

Meets Are Live
The first time school in school history, Oklahoma will post live stats on the internet for all men's and women's home meets.



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