May 10, 2002
NORMAN, Okla. - The Oklahoma men's gymnastics team will graduate six members, both past and present, on Saturday, May 11, at Memorial Stadium. David Johnston and Jim Lovelady, two vital compontents of this year's national championship team, represent the senior class. John Payton, Ryan Hillyer and Everette Bierker have one semester remaining before they don the cap and gown.
Former gymnastics team members Gabe Hansen (1999-2001), Brendan O'Neil (1998-2001) Steve Van Etten (1998-2001) and Gavin Rowland (1996-1999) will also graduate on Saturday. Hansen was a member of the 2001 team that finished a close second in the nation behind Ohio State. O'Neil was the MPSF Conference Champion on the floor in 1999 and 2001 and an All-American on the floor and parallel bars in 2000 and on the floor in 2001. Van Etten earned All-American honors on the floor in 1999 and was the 2001 conference vault champion. Rowland competed on the floor and vault on the 1997 team that finished second in the nation and the 1999 team that took the MPSF Conference title.
"We had a discussion this year about the guys' committment as student-athletes and the priority of academics," Williams said. "At OU they get an education that puts them in a position to compete for whatever career they choose, and the window of being an athlete is so small, especially for gymnasts because there aren't professional opportunities for them to pursue."
Two Sooners, Lovelady and Van Etten, will be getting married over the course of the next two weeks. Lovelady will be staying in Norman and working with OU's Campus Crusade for Christ. Van Etten has future plans of joining the Air Force, while Johnston will be pursuing an MBA at Notre Dame this summer.