NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team opened its 2017 season with a first-place finish at the 2017 Rocky Mountain Open on the campus of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday. The Sooners posted a team score of 433.200 to claim their 18th straight Rocky Mountain Open title and outpaced second-place Air Force (ranked No. 11) by more than 20 points.
Competing under the new code of points for the first time, the top-ranked Sooners’ swept all six events as a team and took home five individual event titles. Senior Todd Dowdy took the floor title with a 14.700, senior co-captain Allan Bower won pommel horse with a huge 15.350 and also took rings with another 15.350 while sophomore Yul Moldauer posted a massive 15.500 to win parallel bars. Bower was fantastic all night, winning the all-around crown with a score of 88.750.
“We were amazing,” head coach Mark Williams said. “I think this may have been our best Rocky Mountain Open ever. We didn’t count a miss and Allan Bower was simply amazing. He posted almost as high an all-around score as he’s ever had even with the rules changes. Pretty impressed that we could start as well as we have and kind of pick up where we left off last year.”
“The scores were a little inflated, but I stuck a good amount of my routines so it was good,” Bower said. “I was excited and it was good to see the team had my back. They were behind me the whole time.”
Oklahoma kicked off the night on pommel horse, notching an impressive 72.300. The Sooners were led on the event by Bower who scored a 15.350, just .050 off his career high even with the scoring changes. Bower’s score was the first of 15.000 or better on any event this season in collegiate gymnastics. OU also saw a strong routine from Moldauer (14.800), and got a 14.000 from Grant Kell, who was competing in his first meet as a Sooner.
“I was really happy about pommel horse,” Williams said. “It is difficult to start on pommel horse and we went six-for-six there. Allan had a tremendous routine. I feel like everyone settled in there and calmed down as we went through the rest of the competition. We had more confidence because of that event.”
The Sooners continued their hot start in the second rotation. Oklahoma posted three scores of 15.000 or better to log a 74.750, its best event of the night. Bower led the way with yet another 15.350, while junior Hunter Justus (15.100) and Moldauer (15.000) turned in high marks of their own.
"I think this may have been our best Rocky Mountain Open ever. We didn’t count a miss and Allan Bower was simply amazing."
- Head Coach Mark Williams
In the third rotation the Sooners moved to vault. Wenske posted a 14.950 in his first action as a Sooner leading Oklahoma to a 72.700 on the event. Bower was again strong, sticking his dismount and earning a 14.850. Dowdy turned in a 14.600 in his first meet back after missing the 2016 season.
Moldauer proved yet again he is one of the best gymnasts in the country on parallel bars. The Arvada, Colo., native scored a 15.500 in front of the home-state crowd to lead OU to a 72.400. Bower continued his hot streak in the fourth rotation, posting a 15.000. Senior Alex Powarzynski scored a 14.200 and sophomore Levi Anderson pitched in a 13.650.
The Sooners slowed a bit the fifth rotation, scoring 69.350 on high bar. Always a lower scoring event, Oklahoma was led on high bar by Anderson’s stuck dismount and 14.300. Senior co-captain Josh Yee turned in a 13.950, Bower notched a 13.900 and sophomore Genki Suzuki recorded a 13.850.
OU rebounded with a very strong final rotation on floor. The Sooners scored 71.400 on the back of several solid routines. Dowdy led the way for Oklahoma with a 14.700. Senior Thao Hoang threw in a 14.500, Bower posted 14.300 and Justus anchored with a 14.150.
“We just wanted to compete as one team and go out and do what we do every day in the gym,” Bower said. “That’s what we did and we’re excited. It’s just the first meet. We’re just going to get back in the gym and work on the things we did wrong here.”
Next up for Oklahoma is a trip to take on Nebraska on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. CT. OU will return home on Saturday, Jan. 28 when it hosts Michigan. The meet is slated for a 6:50 p.m. CT start, and tickets are available for purchase online or by calling the OU Athletics Tickets Office at (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.