NORMAN -- The top-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team completed its third consecutive unbeaten regular season Saturday night, topping No. 4 Illinois 433.700-417.050 inside McCasland Field House on senior night. The win was Oklahoma’s program-best 63rd consecutive dating back to NCAA team finals in 2014.
“We hit 100 percent and you can’t do much better than that,” head coach Mark Williams said. “I was pretty happy and it was a fun night.”
The Sooners swept all six individual event titles on the night. Senior co-captain Colin Van Wicklen won floor and high bar, sophomore Genki Suzuki claimed pommel horse, senior Thao Hoang took home rings, sophomore Peter Daggett won parallel bars and freshman Matt Wenske won vault.
OU, which is peaking at the right time of year, scored 70.000 or better on all six events for the third meet in a row and has now topped that mark in 22 straight rotations.
“We had a hard week and spring break is not a vacation for us,” Williams said. We used it to work hard. That sets us up nicely going into the conference meet and then for NCAAs. We just want to stay healthy and keep doing what we’re doing.”
For the third straight meet, Oklahoma topped the 72-point mark on floor. The Sooners’ 72.250 in the first rotation pushed them out to a lead they would not relinquish. Van Wicklen’s 14.900 paced OU on senior night. Oklahoma was solid across the board also getting a season-high 14.600 from sophomore Levi Anderson and a career-high 14.450 from Wenske. Senior Todd Dowdy hit for 14.350 and freshman Tanner Justus notched a 14.050.
The Sooners kept the 70s coming in the second rotation. OU scored 71.250 on pommel horse, led by Suzuki’ 14.700, which tied his season high. Redshirt senior Josh Yee and sophomore Grant Kell also scored season highs, turning in 14.500 and 14.000, respectively. Sophomore Yul Moldauer notched a 14.450 in the anchor position.
Hoang led the way for Oklahoma in the third rotation. His season-high 15.050 earned him the event title and helped push the Sooners to a team score of 72.650. Sophomore Peter Daggett came within .050 of his own season high, scoring 14.800. Junior Hunter Justus notched a 14.750 in the anchor spot and senior Alex Powarzynski also topped 14, scoring a 14.200. At the hallway point, the Sooners’ lead had grown to nearly six points.
The Sooners had one of their best rotations of the night on vault. Oklahoma saw three vaults of 14.700 or better and were led by Wenske’s 15.050. Van Wicklen threw a huge 14.950 while Dowdy hit for 14.700. Powarzynski added a 14.550 for OU while Tanner Justus notched a 14.650. Oklahoma’s team score was its fifth this season of 73.000 or better.
The fifth rotation saw the Sooners post a season-high 72.900 on parallel bars. Daggett and Moldauer both jumped up over 15.000, scoring 15.100 and 15.050 respectively. The Sooners also got a 14.750 from Hunter Justus, a 14.050 from Powarzynski and a 13.950 from Yee.
Finishing on high bar, the Sooners posted a 70.650 to cap the night. Van Wicklen stuck his dismount and scored 14.450 to take the event title. Yee scored a season-high 14.350 and Moldauer notched a 14.300 to ice the Oklahoma win.
“It was crazy. One of the best feelings in the world,” Van Wicklen said of his final dismount at McCasland Field House. “Just myself, I had a little of that Sooner Magic today and it was a really special meet.”
The 2017 senior class will leave as one of the best in Oklahoma history and still has a chance to add to a resume that includes back-to-back national titles, 63 straight wins and three straight Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) titles.
“We’re on track to do something really special at the end of the season and if these guys win another championship there’s no question in my mind that they’re the best senior class we’ve ever had,” Williams said.
The Sooners are off next weekend but will return to action Saturday, April 8 as they travel to Berkeley Calif., to chase their sixth consecutive MPSF title. Oklahoma will compete with No. 2 Stanford, No. 10 Air Force and No. 11 California for the conference crown.
“We have two weeks to conference so we’ll give people a day or two to get healthy and rested,” Van Wicklen said. “Then as soon as we get back we’ll be fired up and ready to go for conference.”
Following the MPSF Championship, the Sooners head to New York in pursuit of their third consecutive NCAA title. The NCAA Championships will be held at the United State Military Academy April 21-22.