Oklahoma will vie for its ninth national title on Friday at 6 p.m. CT. The meet will be televised live on the Big Ten Network with live results available at www.mgoblue.com. Fans can follow the team live on Twitter with @OU_MGymnastics.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Top-seeded Oklahoma took care of business at the NCAA Qualifier on Thursday, finishing first in its session with a score of 440.000 to advance to the NCAA Finals.
Second place went to Stanford (433.550) followed by Illinois (432.850), Iowa (425.950), Cal (425.700) and William & Mary (415.350).
"We fought through but kept a reserve so tomorrow we can have a better day," said OU head coach Mark Williams. "You just want to do enough to make sure you advance in the group you're in. It's important we get everyone through the sets without any big mistakes and the guys really did that."
The Sooners will compete against Stanford, Illinois and three qualifying teams from tonight's second session for the chance to be crowned national champion on Friday at 6 p.m. CT.
"We came out there and we had a good day today," said junior Danny Berardini. "Obviously there are some things to improve on going into tomorrow, but we came in, did our job, and qualified for the team finals."
The Sooners started slowly, finding themselves down by three points after the first two rotations, but used a big score on floor in the third rotation to right the ship and steadily pull away from the competition.
On parallel bars, Oklahoma scored 72.900, with a 14.900 by junior Sergey Resnick leading the way. Moving to high bar, Berardini scored 14.750, but two sub-14 scores left OU with just a 71.100 team score.
Yet Oklahoma did not stay down. The top team in the country on floor exercise, OU put up a big 75.500 on the event, taking over the lead in one fell swoop after Stanford had high bar problems of its own. Junior Alec Robin scored 15.350 and senior Raymond White added a 15.300, finishing second and third, respectively, overall in the session.
A 73.200 on pommel horse left OU five-tenths ahead of the Cardinal after four rotations. Junior Michael Reid earned the top score of his career, posting a 15.200 - the biggest score of any competitor in the session.
Defending national champion Michael Squires secured the top score of the session on still rings with a stuck dismount that led to a 15.800. OU finished with a 73.600 overall.
Ending the day on vault, the Sooners scored 73.700 as a team, with senior Presten Ellsworth and freshman Colin Van Wicklen scoring identical 14.850 marks, ensuring OU its first-place finish.
"Qualifying is great, but we've saved a little for tomorrow," Berardini continued. "We'll come out energetic, enthusiastic, and we'll have an even better day tomorrow and hopefully we'll end up No. 1."
Oklahoma will vie for its ninth national title on Friday at 6 p.m. CT in the Crisler Center. The meet will be televised live on the Big Ten Network with live results available at www.mgoblue.com.