PERFECT 10th: Sooners Repeat as National Champions
|Ind. National Champs|
|FX||Colin Van Wicklen (OU)||15.300|
|PH||Brandon Ngai (Ill.)||15.450|
|SR||Dennis Zaremski (SU)||15.450|
|VT||Anthony McCallum (UM)||15.550|
|PB||Akash Modi (SU)||15.300|
|HB||Akash Modi (SU)||15.200|
|AA||Yul Moldauer (OU)||89.100|
|OU Team Highs|
|FX||Colin Van Wicklen||15.300|
|VT||Colin Van Wicklen||15.250|
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Defend for 10. The mission statement that has driven the top-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team all season is officially outdated.
Saturday night at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio, the Sooners scored 443.400, capping a second consecutive undefeated season and claiming the 10th NCAA championship in program history.
“It feels great,” head coach Mark Williams said. “The guys hit 100 percent and you can’t ask any more than that. We had a 10-point margin of victory, the largest of any we’ve had, and the guys were awesome all night. I am so excited for them because it’s so hard to repeat.”
Already a program laden with championship history, Oklahoma’s team total was good enough to secure a 10-point victory, the largest in NCAA history under the current scoring system, over second-place Stanford (434.050) and lay claim to its fourth set of back-to-back titles.
In addition to the team title, the Sooners also won a pair of individual national titles. Freshman Yul Moldauer became the eighth Sooner in OU history to win the NCAA all-around title, and the first since Jake Dalton won it in 2012. Moldauer scored 89.100 and joins some illustrious company that includes Olympians Dalton and Bart Conner as well as current OU assistant coaches Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and Steven Legendre.
“I am shocked," Moldauer said. "I came into the meet today with the mindset of the team. I knew if I did that success would come to me. I just went out there and performed. I am still shocked, but I am thankful for all the guys, my coaches and I am thankful for OU. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Junior Colin Van Wicklen also topped a podium Saturday night, winning the national title on floor with a score of 15.300. Van Wicklen had a huge night, scoring at least 14.800 on all three of his events and topping 15.200 in two of them.
“Colin is relentless, especially on those events," Williams said. "He takes so many turns and he works so hard in the gym. He was just awesome on floor, sticking his dismount. Ya, that’s pretty special when you can pull it out in this environment at a national championship.”
In total, seven Sooners won a total of 16 All-American honors, earned by finishing in the top eight of an event.
Just as it did in the prelims, Oklahoma started its night on floor. OU improved on its prelim performance by nearly a full point, scoring 73.600. The Sooners were led by Van Wicklen’s championship performance, and also got a 15.100 from senior Kanji Oyama and a 15.000 from Moldauer. Sophomore Hunter Justus was a late scratch from the lineup with an injury in warmups.
OU entered the second rotation in second place, just a fraction of a point behind then-leader Stanford. Oklahoma was solid on pommel horse, scoring 73.150. Junior Allan Bower paced the Sooners with a 15.100 from the anchor position. Freshman Genki Suzuki also turned in a big performance for OU, scoring a 14.800, just a tenth of a point shy of his career best. After two rotations OU was in an unfamiliar position, sitting in third place.
That wouldn’t last long however, as Oklahoma moved to still rings in the third rotation. That event has been kind to OU all year and it was again Saturday night. Led by a 15.200 from Justus, OU totaled 74.500 to vault into the lead. The Sooners got solid marks from the entire lineup with junior Thao Hoang scoring 14.950, Moldauer totaling 14.800, senior Reese Rickett sticking for a 14.800 and Oyama turning in a 14.750. At the halfway point, OU and Stanford had separated themselves from the field, but the difference between the two was less than one point.
The team celebrates clinching the national championship. The Sooners won their 10th national title in program history and their seventh under head coach Mark Williams.
The fourth rotation proved to be crucial with Stanford competing on floor, its best event, and trailing OU by just a fraction. The Sooners competed on vault, where they exploded with four scores topping the 15-point mark. Van Wicklen set the bar high for OU, scoring 15.250. Bower (15.050), Moldauer (15.000) and Oyama (15.200) also hit big vaults. OU’s huge numbers on vault ballooned its lead to more than four points over the second-place Cardinal. The Sooners had given themselves room to breathe.
The lead continued to grow in the fifth rotation as OU’s relentless attack rolled on. The Sooners saw five solid routines, including Moldauer’s 15.250 that was just .050 off Akash Modi’s (of Stanford) national-championship total of 15.300. OU totaled 74.100 as a team, bettering their total from prelims by two full points. Stanford struggled on pommel horse in the rotation and with just one event left, had fallen to fourth place. Illinois and Ohio State battled for second place while the Sooners rode an eight-point lead into high bar.
OU put the bow on its national title with a 72.800 on high bar. Van Wicklen and freshman Levi Anderson paced the Sooners with a pair of 14.800s. That high bar score secured the Sooners’ 443.400 and the seventh national title of Williams’ career.
“What a journey we have had," Williams said. "There is no way I would have envisioned that for our seniors, Josh (Yee) or Sergey (Resnick). I knew Kanji was a guy we would depend on and he eventually got to the place where this year he was just amazing. The three of those guys, to lead this team after not necessarily being leaders previously, I just can’t thank them enough for their leadership and what they have put forward to make this program continue to be excellent.”
HEAD COACH MARK WILLIAMS
On winning the national championship:
“It feels great. The guys hit 100 percent and you can’t ask any more than that. We had a 10-point margin of victory, the largest of any we’ve had, and the guys were awesome all night. I am so excited for them because it’s so hard to repeat. Back-to-back championship is pretty special”
On completing a second perfect season in a row:
“There’s times when it is difficult, but the process is one that you have to go through. We had some adversity along the way, but I had a tremendous amount of talent. Obviously with having first, second and third in the all-around I relied a lot on those top guys. Yul Moldauer, coming in as a freshman, did an unbelievable job transitioning into the collegiate program. Winning the all-around in your freshman year, that is pretty amazing. That hasn’t been done in a long time. Allan (Bower) and Kanji (Oyama) were phenomenal and it all worked. It was a pretty fun night.”
On Colin Van Wicklen’s performance:
“Colin is relentless. Especially on those events. He takes so many turns and he works so hard in the gym. He really wanted to have a championship either on floor or vault. He threw one of the hardest vaults in the meet tonight. I had my reservations about having him do it for the team because I didn’t want to see him struggle with it for our team score, but he convinced me through his hard work. He was just awesome on floor, sticking his dismount. Ya, that’s pretty special when you can pull it out in this environment at a national championship.”
On his senior class:
“What a journey we have had. There is no way I would have envisioned that for Josh (Yee) or Sergey (Resnick). I knew Kanji was a guy we would depend on and he eventually got to the place where this year he was just amazing. The three of those guys, to lead this team after not necessarily being leaders previously, I just can’t thank them enough for their leadership and what they have put forward to make this program continue to be excellent.”
FRESHMAN YUL MOLDAUER
On winning the all-around title:
“I am shocked. I came into the meet today with the mindset of the team. I knew if I did that success would come to me. I just went out there and performed. I am still shocked, but I am thankful for all the guys, my coaches and I am thankful for OU. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
On his feelings when he knew the team had won the title:
“Well I tried not to tear up. It’s hard because we just train so hard all year. All that going in early and doing extra things in the gym, even on a light day, it works. We couldn’t have done it without that.”
On completing the perfect season:
“When I came to OU I saw that last year they had a perfect season and they were dominant. I wanted that. I wanted to have a perfect season. Halfway through this year I started to realize that we could do this. The confidence came and we pulled it out. We believed in ourselves and we trusted it. That’s all we had to do.”