NORMAN – Highlighted with four competitions at historic McCasland Field House, University of Oklahoma head men’s gymnastics coach Mark Williams announced the Sooners’ 2018 schedule Monday afternoon.
The three-time defending national champion Sooners face a challenging slate in pursuit of their fourth consecutive title.
“We’ve made it so that we are going to meet some of the best teams throughout the season. It will put us in a position so that we will know more about the competition before we get to championships at the end of the season,” Williams said of the slate. “It’s always important to go up against the best to be the best. We’re looking forward to going up against the teams that pushed us last year. I’m excited we have four home meets. None of them are over spring break, so we are hoping to get a consistent crowd, especially with three of them being in February, which should be a great gymnastics month.”
OU opens the season with a trip to Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Jan. 20.
In the second meet of the year, Oklahoma travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on the Michigan Wolverines on Jan. 27.
The Sooners’ home opener is slated for Feb. 3 and will feature a showdown against Williams’ alma mater Nebraska and MPSF rival Stanford at McCasland Field House.
The meet will also serve as Cleveland Night and a national championship celebration for the Sooners. The annual event is part of a "Partners in Education" program developed by Williams and Cleveland Elementary School. OU gymnasts make weekly visits to the school to assist teachers with class activities and to help tutor students in math, grammar and reading.
The OU Athletics Marketing Department also has planned a national championship T-shirt giveaway, and fans will have the opportunity to take photos with the Sooners’ last three national championship trophies.
“Cleveland Night is always special,” Williams said. “It probably will be again one of our biggest crowds of the year. The elementary school is involved in running the meet. We enjoy mentoring at the school, so we’re excited they are coming in and helping with the competition.”
The following week the Sooners take on its third Big Ten opponent in as many meets when Iowa visits Norman. The Feb. 10 meet against the Hawkeyes will be the Sooners’ annual alumni night, with a special remembrance in honor of alum Ric Swezey, who tragically passed away in June.
“That’s going to be a really special night,” Williams said. “Ric Swezey was a huge part of the program back in the 90s. He was a part of the national championship team in 1991. He stayed in touch throughout the careers he had since then. He worked with Disney and did shows in New York City. He created a following throughout his life associated with gymnastics, and he touched a lot of lives. We wanted to do something to honor him and celebrate the time he had with us and our program.”
Williams’ team will then take a break from NCAA competition to compete at the 2018 Winter Cup in Las Vegas on Feb. 15-17. The competition allows OU’s student-athletes to compete as individuals in an attempt to earn a spot on the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team.
Following Winter Cup, the Sooners will be home for a pair of meets starting with Navy on Military Appreciation Night on Feb. 24. OU will then honor its seniors in the final home meet of the season against conference foe Cal on March 10.
For the final two meets of the season, the Sooners travel to Illinois on March 17 and Ohio State on March 23.
OU’s postseason run begins April 7 when the Sooners head to Colorado Springs, Colo., for the MPSF Championships hosted by Air Force. Oklahoma has won the league in each of the last six seasons and 14 times with Williams at the helm.
The Sooners will defend their national title at the NCAA Championships in Chicago April 20 and 21.
Season tickets for all four home meets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the University of Oklahoma Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or