No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Nebraska and No. 4 Stanford
NORMAN--- The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team hosts two top-five programs – No. 2 Nebraska and No. 4 Stanford – to open its 2018 home slate Saturday. The Cornhuskers held the top spot in the country up until last week when Oklahoma surpassed them this week. Stanford posted the highest score in the NCAA thus far this season (414.100) in its last contest. The meet will be broadcast on FOX Sports Oklahoma and FOX College Sports Pacific with Chad McKee and Michael Squires on the call.
NOTES AND NUMBERS
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.
RECAPPING THE LAST MEET
Oklahoma picked up its first victory of the season when it defeated Michigan last weekend in Ann Arbor, 411.650-403.650. The Sooners fell behind early, but found their footing on the final three rotations of the night. The team closed the gap with on still rings, posting the second-highest score in the country (70.350) and getting a win from Moldauer (14.950). Genki Suzuki helped OU take the lead for the first time on high bar. The junior posted a 14.150 to win the event title and led OU to a 68.250. Finally, Oklahoma pulled away on parallel bars when it posted a 70.650, the highest score in the NCAA thus far this season.
LAST YEAR VS. NEBRASKA AND STANFORD
The Sooners hit the road against both Nebraska and Stanford in 2017. OU defeated the Cornhuskers 426.600-414.400 in Lincoln, Neb. Tanner Justus shined in his Sooner debut and split his first event title on vault. Reese Rickett (SR), Matt Wenske (VT), Yul Moldauer (PB) and Colin Van Wicklen (HB) all collected event titles as well. In their highly anticipated matchup against Stanford, the Sooners edged the Cardinal by less than three tenths of a point, 432.300-432.050. Allan Bower (PH, AA), Thao Hoang (SR), Tanner Justus (VT) and Peter Daggett (PB) all collected event titles for OU.
BACK ON TOP
After a long wait, the Sooners picked up right where they left off in their first meet of the season and posted a 411.650 at Michigan. With a score finally recorded, OU returned to No. 1 in this week’s NCAA rankings. The Sooners currently boast the top average on still rings (70.350), parallel bars (70.650) and high bar (68.250), and rank second on vault (71.650). Individually, Yul Moldauer holds the top spot on parallel bars (15.050) and is second on still rings (14.950). Genki Suzuki ranks second on high bar (14.150).
THE MCCASLAND ADVANTAGE
OU has not fallen in a regular season meet at McCasland Field House in nearly 11 years. Its last loss in Norman came on March 3, 2007, when it was beaten by the Ohio State Buckeyes. Since then, the Sooners have racked up 40 straight regular season wins at home.
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. 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 77 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 continues his storied career this season. Last week, Moldauer dominated and collected three event titles in the Sooners season-opening win. His performanace earned him NCAA and MPSF gymnast of the week honors. 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).
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 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 continues its homestand next weekend as they host Iowa on “Alumni Night.” About 45 men’s gymnastics alumni will return to McCasland to cheer on the Sooners. OU will also honor former gymnast Ric Swezey, who passed away in 2017. Swezey, a former national champion, remained an active and enthusiastic Sooner supporter, both as a donor to his alma mater (he continued contributing to the Iron Cross Club) and as a physical presence at OU gymnastics events around the world, including the most recent NCAA Championships that he attendedwith his family. The Sooners will celebrate Swezey’s life by showing footage of his routines from the 1991 national championship throughout the meet. For tickets to “Alumni 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.