Sooners Start Season in Michigan
|MATCHUP AT A GLANCE|
|CGA Coaches' Poll||No. 2||No. 9|
NOTES AND NUMBERS
Oklahoma begins its hopes of another title run on Saturday when the preseason-No. 1 Sooners head north to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face off against the Michigan Wolverines. In his 19th season at the helm of OU men’s gymnastics, head coach Mark Williams and his team are searching for a fourth consecutive NCAA title in 2018, as the Sooners have gone 1,378 days without a loss. Michigan and OU are the only two NCAA programs that have not competed this season.
LET IT R3IGN
Oklahoma made history in 2017, becoming just the fourth program since 1938 to win three straight national titles. The Sooners’ perfect 26-0 campaign marked 81 straight wins for Williams and his program, and gave OU 11 all-time national titles (eight under Williams). Seven Sooners notched a total of 22 All-America honors.
LAST YEAR’S MEETING
Oklahoma defeated Michigan in its first home meet of 2017 by a score of 430.050-400.050. Led by then-sophomore Yul Moldauer, the Sooners swept individual honors. Moldauer collected three event titles (floor, still rings and parallel bars) on his way to his first all-around title of the season. Junior Hunter Justus (PH), freshman Tanner Justus (V) and sophomore Levi Anderson (HB) rounded out the event winners.
Despite losing three All-Americans in seniors Allan Bower, Thao Hoang and Colin van Wicklen, OU returns quite the talent pool in 2018. Junior Yul Moldauer is coming off a 2017 campaign in which he earned individual national titles on floor exercise and still rings, in addition to All-America nods on vault, parallel bars, high bar and all-around. Now a senior, Hunter Justus earned All-America honors on both rings and parallel bars in 2017, and Reese Rickett and Genki Suzuki were All-Americans on rings and high bar, respectively.
The Sooners have won or finished first in every meet in which they have competed since placing second at the 2014 NCAA team finals. In that span they have racked up 76 victories, the most consecutive wins in program history and the most since piling up 52 wins from 2002 to 2004. It also stands as the longest current streak among all NCAA sports.
THE CHAMP RETURNS
Junior Yul Moldauer has made his mark on the OU record books and will continue his historic collegiate career when the Sooners kick of their season on Saturday. Moldauer is a three-time individual national champion and became just the second freshman to ever win the all-around title in 2016. In 2017, he added another pair of titles on floor and still rings. His three titles rank fourth all-time at OU behind current assistant coach Steven Legendre (6) and Olympians Jonathan Horton (6) and Jake Dalton (4).
Williams’ squad returns four All-Americans from last year’s title team. Senior Hunter Justus (PB, SR), redshirt senior Reese Rickett (SR), junior Genki Suzuki (HB) and junior Yul Moldauer (AA, FX, HB, PB, SR, VT) all earned All-America status a year ago. The Sooners also return junior Levi Anderson, who was a 2016 All-American on high bar.
The Sooners welcome a pair of talented freshmen for 2018 in Gage Dyer and Alexei Vernyi. Vernyi finished second on floor and third in the all-around at the 2016 P&G Championships, while also turning in top-eight performances on parallel bars and still rings. At the 2016 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships, Vernyi took home the floor title and also placed second in the all-around. Additionally, he finished in the top eight on parallel bars, still rings and high bar. Dyer is a four-time Oklahoma state champion and in 2017 won the all-around at the Region 3 Elite Team Cup. He took second in the same event in 2016.
Oklahoma opens its home season on Saturday, Feb. 3 when it hosts No. 1 Nebraska and No. 5 Stanford. The meet will serve as “Cleveland Night” for the Sooners. For the past 13 years, OU men’s gymnasts have made regular visits to Cleveland Elementary School to assist teachers with class activities. As part of the Cleveland Night meet, students will have the opportunity to serve as junior judge, score flashers, march-in leaders, award presenters and PA announcer. The first 500 fans in attendance will also receive shirts celebrating the Sooners’ 2017 national championship, and the last three national championship trophies will be on display. For tickets to “Cleveland Elementary Night” or any of the other home dates at McCasland, call the Oklahoma Athletics Ticket Office at (405) 325-242 or toll free at (800) 456-GoOU, or click here.