OU Sets Sights on the Hawkeyes
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 Iowa
NORMAN — The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team hosts No. 10 Iowa on Saturday in its second of four straight home meets. OU is coming off a pair of wins against top-five opponents while the Hawkeyes had their best meet of the year last weekend, posting a season-high 401.850 against Illinois. Iowa’s Bennett Huang took home the all-around title with a 79.450.
Saturday’s meet will serve as “Alumni Night” for the Sooners. OU will welcome approximately 50 former gymnasts to McCasland Field House and will honor Ric Swezey, a member of the 1991 national championship squad who died this past June. Saturday’s competition will be televised on FOX Sports Oklahoma with Chad McKee and Michael Squires on the call.
NOTES AND NUMBERS
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 79 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 Division I NCAA sports.
RECAPPING THE LAST MEET
The Sooners came out strong in their home opener last weekend, posting an NCAA-season-high 418.000 and cruising to a first-place finish over No. 2 Nebraska (403.800) and No. 4 Stanford (410.500). Yul Moldauer led OU with three event titles (FX, SR and PB) and posted the country’s best all-around score this season (87.150). OU grabbed the lead early and never relinquished it. It made significant improvements on floor by posting a 69.650 which was two-and-a-half points better than the previous week’s score. The Sooners also continued their dominance on still rings, claiming the top four spots in the meet and earning 70.450, the second-highest score this season nationally.
LAST YEAR VS. IOWA
The Sooners traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, in 2017 to take on the Hawkeyes and Minnesota in a tri-meet. OU came out on top (427.000) while Minnesota placed second (417.200) and Iowa third (414.650). Individually, OU’s Yul Moldauer picked up three event titles (FX, SR, PB) and the all-around crown. Allan Bower (VT) claimed Oklahoma’s other event title. The Sooners outscored the competition on all but one event.
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 Ohio State. Since then, the Sooners have racked up 42 straight regular season wins at home.
THERE’S ONLY ONE
Last Saturday, OU posted a 418.000, the highest score in the country this season. With their impressive performance, the Sooners 414.825 average score ranks first in the NCAA. They also boast the top averages on pommel horse (66.925), still rings (70.400), parallel bars (70.525) and high bar (67.375) and rank second on vault (71.775). Individually, Yul Moldauer ranks first on parallel bars (14.975) and all-around (87.150), and ranks second on still rings (14.775). Genki Suzuki is third in the country on high bar (13.925) and Levi Anderson is fifth in all-around (81.450).
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.
LET IT R3IGN
Oklahoma made history in 2017, becoming just the fourth program men’s gymnastics 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.
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 competed in all-around for the first time in 2018. He posted the highest all-around score in the NCAA so far this year, 87.150, and picked up three event titles in the Sooners win against Nebraska and Stanford. Because of his impressive performance, the junior collected NCAA and MPSF gymnast of the week honors for the second straight week. 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.
OU welcomes back approximately 50 alumni back to McCasland Field House for its “Alumni Meet.” Former Sooners attending include Aaron Basham, Alex Powarzynski, Allan Bower, Ben Fox, Brendan O’Neil, Brett Covey, Brian Carr, Brian Trause, Casey Bryan, Chad Duncan, Chris Stehl, Corey English, Daniel Furney, Daniel Stover, David Finning, Ed Wentzheimer, Ethan Jose, Garon Rowland, Gavin Rowland, Heath Mueller, Huy Ly, Jacob Messina, Jake Dalton, Jake Moran, Jarrod Hanks, Jason Laughton, Jeff Lutz, Jeremy Killen, Jonathan Horton, Josh Gore, Josh Landis, Laurence Chavez, Marcus Jordan, Mark Seyler, Mike Squires, Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons, Orson Sykes, Preston Ellsworth, Quinn Rowell, Robby Rome, Shannon Carrion, Stephen Rutledge, Steve Legendre, Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, TJ Dortch, Todd Bishop, Tom Meadows, Troy Nitzky and Vince Pagano.
Next week, OU takes a break from the NCAA competition as nine current, former and future Sooners travel to Las Vegas, Nev., for the Winter Cup. OU alumni Allan Bower, Alex Powarzynski, Alex Naddour, Kanji Oyama and Colin Van Wicklen will all compete. Yul Moldauer will be the lone representative from this year’s OU squad and future Sooners Vitaliy Guimaraes, Spencer Goodell and Morgan Seyler will compete for a spot on the USA National team. The following week, the Sooners continue their homestand when they host Navy at McCasland Field House on Saturday, Feb. 24.