Sooners Announce 2017 Schedule
NORMAN – University of Oklahoma head men’s gymnastics coach Mark Williams announced Oklahoma’s 2017 schedule on Thursday.
The two-time defending NCAA National Champion Sooners must navigate a difficult slate if they want to make history and win a third straight national title in 2017. Oklahoma opens the season with its annual trip to the Rocky Mountain Open at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Jan. 14. OU has won the meet in each of the last 17 seasons.
Next up for OU is a trip to Big 10 country to take on traditional rival and Williams’ alma mater Nebraska on Jan. 21. The Sooners swept the event titles against the Cornhuskers in Norman a year ago en route to a 447.450-428.700 win.
“We’re anticipating another challenging competition season,” Williams said. “Starting with the Rocky Mountain Open, being our usual opening destination, against Nebraska and Air Force. We’ll be headed back to Nebraska this year for a second competition, and that’s always a good visit to an old rival.”
The Sooners host another Big 10 school in Michigan on Jan. 28 for their home opener at McCasland Field House. The meet will also serve as Cleveland Night for the Sooners. The annual event is part of a "Partners in Education" program developed by Williams and Cleveland Elementary music teacher Regina Bell. OU gymnasts make weekly visits to the school to assist teachers with class activities and to help tutor students in math, grammar and reading.
The OU Athletics Marketing Department has some special events planned for Cleveland Night. Dozens of lucky students will have the opportunity to serve as junior judges, score flashers, march-in leaders, junior PA announcer and award presenters at the meet.
A week later Oklahoma is back on the road to take on Iowa and Minnesota in Iowa City, Iowa, on Feb. 10.
“Our first home meet is against Michigan, who’s always a really outstanding program,” Williams said. “From there, we go to Iowa and then have Minnesota. Iowa should be another difficult environment for us to compete on the road against a pair of Big 10 teams.”
Williams’ bunch will then take a break from NCAA competition to compete at the 2017 Winter Cup in Las Vegas on Feb. 16-18. The competition allows OU’s student-athletes to compete as individuals in attempt to earn a spot on the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team.
Following Winter Cup, the Sooners will be home for three of their next four meets starting with Air Force on Feb. 25. OU then travels to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on conference rival Stanford on March 4. The Cardinal finished a distant second to the Sooners at the 2016 NCAA Championship and should once again be one of OU’s strongest challengers.
"Ohio State is one of the top three teams out there and Illinois is another team that was in the top five last year, so it should be a good challenge at the end of the season."
- Head Coach Mark Williams
Oklahoma then returns to the friendly confines of McCasland Field House for back-to-back home meets against Ohio State (March 11) and Illinois (March 18) to conclude the regular season schedule. Ohio State finished third at NCAAs a year ago and with a strong returning contingent will once again be near the top of collegiate gymnastics.
“We finish the regular season with Ohio State and Illinois coming to us during the spring break week," Williams said. "Ohio State is one of the top three teams out there and Illinois is another team that was in the top five last year, so it should be a good challenge at the end of the season.”
The postseason run kicks off on April 8 when OU heads west to Berkeley, Calif., to the campus of the University of California to defend the MPSF Conference title. The Sooners have won the league in each of the last five seasons.
Following an off week the Sooners will defend their NCAA crowns at the NCAA Championships in West Point, N.Y., April 21 and 22.
Season tickets for all four home meets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the University of Oklahoma Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or toll free at (800) 456-GoOU. Tickets can also be ordered online by visiting SoonerSports.com.