NORMAN, Okla. – An Oklahoma contingent will be making its way to the Winter Cup competition this weekend in Las Vegas to see how each Sooner stacks up against the best male gymnasts from around the country.
Oklahoma will boast a total 11 past, present and future members of its program who will compete at the event from Feb. 20-22 in the Riviera Hotel & Casino’s Royale Pavilion.
OU gymnasts have done very well at past Winter Cups. Jake Dalton won the all-around in addition to taking first on floor and still rings last year. In 2012, Steve Legendre took second in the all-around while winning floor and vault titles and in 2010 Chris Brooks and Jonathan Horton finished first and second, respectively, in the all-around.
"Part of the reason we've done well at Winter Cup is that we've put a good training plan together early in season and had them prepared well for meets in February," said OU head coach Mark Williams.
Performances at the Winter Cup will help determine the 15 men who will comprise the U.S. Senior National Team through the 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships, Aug. 21-24. The six members of the 2013 World Championships squad, plus the two World alternates, retain their spots on the national team. The remaining seven spots will be determined based on the following criteria: the top two ranked all-around athletes who are not already on the senior national team; two based on the National Team Points System; two athletes selected by the Men’s Program Committee; and one selected by the national team coordinator.
Current Sooners scheduled to participate include junior Danny Berardini, freshman Allan Bower, freshman Alex Powarzynski, junior Alec Robin, junior Michael Squires and freshman Colin Van Wicklen.
Berardini, Bower, Powarzynski and Robin are slated to do the all-around. Squires will compete as a still rings specialist while Van Wicklen will likely participate on floor, vault and high bar.
"We didn't have any guys go last year," Robin said. "Having this many shows how strong of an all-around team we have this year. We're looking stronger than ever. Being in the NCAA helps our guys because we've been competing the last two months. It'll be a good, fun meet."
Former Sooners and current U.S. Senior National Team members Brooks, Dalton, Legendre and Alex Naddour will all compete. Brooks will likely compete in the all-around while Dalton, Legendre and Naddour will each enter a select number of events, having already qualified for future National Team participation due to their selections to last year’s World Championships.
In addition, OU signee Hunter Justus, a member of the U.S. Junior National Team, will also participate in the all-around.
The Winter Cup competition schedule is: preliminary rounds, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. PT; and final round, Feb. 22 at 7:15 p.m. PT. Tickets will be on sale on competition day. The Winter Cup format has junior and senior gymnasts competing in the same field.
The top 42 gymnasts, according to the Men’s Program Committee’s points ranking system, will advance to the final competition, along with the top three gymnasts on each apparatus. The all-around and individual event champions will be determined via a combined two-day score. For information on the points ranking system used for advancement to the final round, as well as the one for determining the national team, go to www.usagym.org.