|2017 MPSF Champions|
|FX||Yul Moldauer (OU)||14.750|
|PH||Tim Wang (AF)||14.750|
|SR||Yul Moldauer (OU)||15.400|
|VT||Matt Wenske (OU)||15.050|
|PB||Yul Moldauer (OU)||15.500|
|HB||Levi Anderson (OU)||15.000|
|AA||Akash Modi (SU)||88.000|
BERKELEY, Calif. — The top-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team secured its sixth consecutive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) conference title Saturday afternoon. The Sooners scored 432.200 as a team to place first at the MPSF Championships, just better than five points ahead of second-place Stanford (426.850).
The Sooners’ conference championship streak is their longest in program history and the most since head coach Mark Williams’ bunch won four straight titles from 2005 to 2008. The win also gives the Sooners 66 straight victories, their longest winning streak in school history. Oklahoma’s last loss came at the team finals of the 2014 NCAA Championships.
“I thought we did a pretty good job in total,” Williams said. “I do think having three weeks off made it a little hard to reestablish the consistency we had going in. We have some work to do but any time you win a conference championship is a tremendous accomplishment. Six in a row--I’m excited for the guys.”
In addition to the team title, the Sooners took home five of the six individual event titles. Sophomore and reigning American Cup champion Yul Moldauer claimed titles on floor, rings and parallel bars to become the first Sooner to win multiple crowns in the same year since Jake Dalton won four titles in 2012. Joining Moldauer as conference champions were freshman Matt Wenske who won vault and sophomore Levi Anderson who won high bar.
Williams was also named the MPSF Coach the Year after the Sooner win. The honor is the 13th of Williams’ career and his third consecutive.
“It feels good,” Moldauer said of the title. “After the second rotation we had gotten the most nerve racking events out of the way. We got to rings and just let it rip. I think we did well as a team and it was good see that when we struggled we fought and were able to hang on. There is still a lot of work to do in the gym but this was a good way to get us moving toward the national championship.”
Oklahoma started the meet with a rock solid first rotation. Moldauer led the way with his 14.750 in the anchor position. The Sooners also got strong marks from the rest of the lineup with senior co-captain Allan Bower scoring 14.250, senior co-captain Colin Van Wicklen posting 14.150, Anderson notching a 14.050 and senior Thao Hoang posting a 13.950. OU’s team score of 71.150 was good enough for first place heading into rotation number two.
The second rotation saw the Sooners move to the always daunting pommel horse. Oklahoma got five routines without a fall and scored 69.650 as a team. Bower led the way with a 14.400 while Moldauer and sophomore Genki Suzuki both notched 14.0s. After scoring 72.250 on rings in the same rotation, the Cardinal took a narrow lead of two tenths over the Sooners.
Sophomore Peter Daggett put some momentum back on the Sooners’ side with a 14.600 from the leadoff spot on rings. That got the Sooners going to the tune of a team score of 73.250. Moldauer once again led the way, posting a huge 15.400. Hoang added a 14.850 and Bower scored 14.700 in the anchor position. Oklahoma’s big scores on rings pushed it back into the lead at the halfway point.
Oklahoma poured it on in the fourth rotation on vault. The Sooners scored 74.050 as a team, just their third time to top the 74-point mark in any rotation this season, extending their lead over the Cardinal. Wenske’s 15.050 paced the squad, but OU also got a stuck landing and a 14.900 for senior Alex Powarzynski, a 14.850 from freshman Tanner Justus, a 14.650 from senior Todd Dowdy and a 14.600 from Bower.
“I was nervous because I’ve had success in the past with this vault, so there is always pressure to do just as good,” Wenske said. “I was a little nervous because my knee has been bugging me this week, but I knew I had to do it for the team. I just trusted it and it paid off in the end.”
Wesnke missed two months of the regular season with a knee injury and was thrilled to be all the way back and contributing.
“If you had told me when I got my knee problems that I would be here competing and winning a title I wouldn’t have believed you,” Wenske said. “I owe it to my team and my coach and to our trainer for doing everything to help me out.”
In the penultimate rotation, the Sooners protected their lead with a team total of 72.600 on parallel bars. Moldauer tied his season high with a 15.500 while Bower (14.750) and junior Hunter Justus (14.700) also turned in marks near their season bests. With just one event remaining, the OU lead had grown to just shy of six points.
In the final rotation, the Sooners notched a team score of 71.200 to secure their sixth straight conference crown. Anderson’s 15.000 led all gymnasts while Van Wicklen notched a 14.700 and Yee scored a 14.100.
“Whenever you jump up you just have to have a party and have fun,” Anderson said. “We work too hard not to trust our training. When I got through my fifth release and my dismount was coming I could feel I was going to stick. As soon as I let go of the bar I could tell. It was like fitting a glove. When my feet hit the ground there was no movement and I knew I did that for my brothers and I had done my job.”
The Sooners have two weeks to prepare to defend their back-to-back national championships. They will travel to West Point, New York, for the NCAA Championships on the campus of the United States Military Academy on April 21 and 22.
“It’s honestly a great feeling to know we have won another MPSF and taken down No. 2 Stanford,” Anderson said. “They are a great team and we have so much respect for what they do. It feels good to come out on top but we also know we have to get back in the gym and we have a lot of work to do. It’s time to really step up here in two weeks.”