NORMAN -- The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team continued its unbeaten streak on Saturday, besting No. 9 Air Force 425.550 - 394.850 in front of 1,165 fans, including 319 students, at the McCasland Field House. Oklahoma is still the only team to hit the 425-point mark this season, having done so in each of its five meets so far this season.
Competing in five-up, five-count format for the first time this season, the Sooners took home five event titles and the all-around Saturday night. Senior co-captain and U.S. Senior National Team member Allan Bower won pommel horse with a 15.200, sophomore Peter Daggett won rings with a career-high 14.450, senior Alex Powarzynski won vault with a 14.900 and parallel bars with a 14.600 and sophomore Levi Anderson took home the high bar title with a season-high tying 14.900. Senior co-captain Colin Van Wicklen took home the all-around crown with a mark of 84.500.
“Overall it was pretty good,” head coach Mark Williams said. “We gave some guys a rest. It wasn’t our A team but in the end I was pleased with the results and a lot of the performances.”
Oklahoma opened the first rotation on floor in steady fashion, getting three straight routines of 14.000 or better from Suzuki (14.050), Tanner Justus (14.050) and Van Wicklen (14.250). Van Wicklen’s routine proved to be the Sooners’ best as they scored 69.550 as a team.
The Sooners picked up the pace on pommel horse in the second rotation. Oklahoma scored a 71.750, just shy of their current season high of 72.300 from the Rocky Mountain Open in January. Junior Hunter Justus started the event strong, posting a season-high 14.350. Senior co-captain Josh Yee added a season high of his own with a 14.200 in the number three spot. Sophomore and 2017 Winter Cup champion Yul Moldauer followed him up with a big 14.600 and Bower anchored with an eye-popping 15.200. Pommel horse was the only action of the night for OU’s three national team members Bower, Justus and Moldauer.
“Floor and pommel horse haven’t been good in the beginning of the year but we really improved there and that’s huge for us going forward,” Van Wicklen said.
Some new faces carried the Sooners to a 70.050 on rings. Junior Jake Maloley led off with a career-high 14.000 in his first ever routine in front of the home crowd. Daggett followed him up with a 14.450 that led all Sooners on the night. Solid marks from Van Wicklen (13.850) and Hoang (13.650) cleared the way for Powarzynski to anchor with a 14.100.
Sophomore Genki Suzuki celebrates after sticking his high bar dismount. Suzuki competed in the all-around for the first time as a Sooner on Saturday, posting an 83.550
Powarzynski paced the Sooners in the next rotation. Performing his first vault of the season the senior from Menifee, Calif., nearly stuck the dismount, taking just a small hop, and scored a 14.900. OU also got strong vaults from Hoang, who scored 14.450, Tanner Justus, who posted 14.750 and Suzuki, who anchored with a 14.350. OU’s team mark of 72.250 proved to be its highest rotation score of the night.
“I had trained it a lot in the gym and have just been trying to get back into it,” Powarzynski said. “I was just ecstatic after that. I was beaming.”
The fourth rotation saw the Sooners move to parallel bars where Powarzynski was again the leading scorer with a 14.600. OU posted a 70.450 with help from a 14.000 from Daggett and a career-high 14.500 from Van Wicklen.
“Alex really did a good job, particularly on p-bars,” Williams said. “He did a good vault and was steady the rest of the way. I was pleased to see him have a good night all the way around. Peter was really good on rings. That was probably his best routine. We’re seeing him compete better. I’m happy to see that after Winter Cup, it’s not just there but also for the university team.”
The Sooners closed the night in impressive fashion, going five-for-five on high bar to notch a 71.500. Anderson led the way with his 14.900. Van Wicklen threw down a 14.750, sophomore Genki Suzuki posted a 14.100 and senior co-captain Josh Yee pitched in a 13.950.
“High bar was really good,” Van Wicklen said. “We had a really big crowd so hitting five-for-five and getting a few sticks was exciting and really pumped us up.”
“It’s getting to be that time where we have to focus on our best guys having their best meets,” Williams said. “Numbers two, three and four are right in a row here so we’ll have to be good and get busy preparing. Right around the corner is the conference championship and NCAAs.”
Oklahoma’s schedule is grueling in the month of March. The Sooners travel to Palo Alto, Calif., this week to take on No. 2 Stanford on Saturday. They then return to host No. 3 Ohio State at McCasland on March 11 and then host No. 4 Illinois on March 18 in a meet that will serve as senior night. Both remaining home meets are slated for a 6:50 p.m. CT start.
“It’s just going to be intense all week,” Van Wicklen said of the impending showdown with the Cardinal. “It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 in their house. That’s what sports are all about. We’re just going to be fired up and ready to go. We’ll put out our best lineup and see what happens.”
Tickets for OU's upcoming home meets are available for purchase online or by calling the OU Athletics Tickets Office at (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.