|PB||Yul Moldauer (OU)||15.500|
|HB||Anderson/Van Wicklen (OU)||14.650|
LINCOLN, Neb. — The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team picked up a second straight road-meet win on Saturday, knocking off seventh-ranked Nebraska at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Neb.
The Sooners outgunned the Cornhuskers 426.600-414.400 on the night, captured four individual event titles and set NCAA team highs on both vault (73.100) and high bar (72.450). Freshmen Matt Wenske and Tanner Justus both scored 15.050 on vault and now are tied for the NCAA lead on the event. Senior Reese Rickett won rings with a 15.100 while senior Colin Van Wicklen and sophomore Levi Anderson both posted an NCAA-best 14.650 on high bar to share the event title. Sophomore Yul Moldauer posted yet another 15.500 on parallel bars, tying his own NCAA best, to take the event.
“We started a little slowly so hopefully we get over that,” head coach Mark Williams said. “We were a little tighter than I wanted. We got going a little better on the third and fourth events and started to do better gymnastics. I though the high bar team did a very good job and we finished well.”
The Sooners started the night on the ever-challenging pommel horse, scoring a team total of 67.300, while Nebraska began on floor. Senior Allan Bower led the way for OU, anchoring the event with a 14.350. Moldauer posted a 14.050 in the number three spot after showing off some impressive flares. Sophomore Genki Suzuki made his 2016 pommel horse debut for Oklahoma on Saturday night. He notched a 13.400. After the first rotation, OU trailed the Cornhuskers 67.300-71.800.
Oklahoma rebounded a bit in the second rotation. After trading events with Nebraska, the Sooners posted a 70.450 on floor and claimed a narrow .600-point lead over the Cornhuskers. For the second meet in a row senior Todd Dowdy led the way for OU. He posted a 14.550 in the anchor position. Moldauer added a 14.200, senior Thao Hoang notched a 14.000 and Wenske scored a 14.100. Seeing his first collegiate action, Tanner Justus notched a 13.600.
“You just can’t open the door to deductions,” Williams said. “We have to get back in the gym and get better. After the first two events we were within a few tenths of Nebraska and that’s where we deserved to be. We just had to get on with it and do the gymnastics we train to do every day.”
Things really started rolling for OU in the third rotation, thanks in large part to the Sooners’ talent duo of freshmen. Justus, who was making his Sooner debut, and Wenske both posted 15.050s, the highest vault score in the nation so far in 2017 and the only score to match or best 15.000. As a team OU posted a 73.100, the best mark in the country so far this year, and widened its lead on NU. The Sooners also got strong vaults from Hoang (14.500), Suzuki (14.250) and Dowdy (14.250).
"Yul Moldauer was spectacular on the parallel bars. That’s probably the best routine I’ve ever seen him do.”
- Head Coach Mark Williams
“The two best scores of the day,” Williams said of Justus and Wenske. “Tanner did a great job on his landing and Matt is doing a bigtime vault. Those guys were huge in helping us on that event.”
In the fourth rotation OU moved to rings and further extended its lead. After posting a nation-leading 74.750 at the Rocky Mountain Open a week ago, the Sooners scored 72.350 on Saturday. Oklahoma is the only team so far this year to top 70 points on the event. Rickett led the way for OU with a stuck dismount and a 15.100. There have been just four 15.000s in collegiate gymnastics on rings in 2017, all have come from Sooners. Hunter Justus posted a strong 14.750 while Hoang (14.600) and senior Alex Powarzynski (14.100) had big marks of their own. After four, OU led 283.200 to 275.950.
OU continued its hot streak on high bar. After getting just one score of 14.000 or better on the event a week ago, the Sooners counted five such scores on Saturday. Van Wicklen and Anderson shared the event title, and now lead the country on the event, with matching 14.650s. A 14.500 from Suzuki, a 14.400 from Moldauer and a 14.250 from senior co-captain Josh Yee pushed OU to a team total of 72.450, the best in the nation in 2017 by nearly two points.
“They had to make some adjustments because the bar was a little bouncy,” Williams said. “I liked what I saw there. They did pretty good turns and angles and stuck some landings. Can’t complain there. That was one of our best events of the night.”
Oklahoma wrapped up the meet on parallel bars where once again Moldauer stole the show. The reigning NCAA all-around champ stuck his dismount and posted a 15.500 to tie his own 2017 NCAA best. Freshman Peter Daggett scored a career-best 14.200 and sophomore Levi Anderson, Powazynski and senior co-captain Colin Van Wicklen all notched scores of 13.750 to push the Sooners to a team total of 70.950.
“Yul Moldauer was spectacular on the parallel bars,” Williams said. “That’s probably the best routine I’ve ever seen him do.”
“We were good in places, but I think we were down a little. Hopefully by next week for our home opener we will make some improvements and have a good performance.”
The Sooners are back in action on Saturday, Jan. 21 for their home opener when they host Michigan at the McCasland Field House at 6:50 p.m. CT. 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.