No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Navy
NORMAN —The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team hosts No. 9 Navy on Saturday at 7 p.m. for “Military Appreciation Night.” Two weeks ago, the Sooners posted the highest score in the country for the second straight week with a 418.850. The Midshipmen are coming off of a second place finish at the All-Academy Championships against Air Force and Army. Navy posted 400.200, just falling behind Air Force’s 403.850 and edging Army’s 399.550. The meet will be held in “five-up, five-count” format, meaning all individual scores will count toward the team score and will be streamed live on SoonerSports.TV.
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 80 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
For the second week in a row, OU posted the highest score in the NCAA this season, earning a 418.850 against Iowa on Feb. 24. Genki Suzuki was a standout performer for the Sooners, not scoring below a 14.000 on his four events. The junior won event titles on vault (14.550), parallel bars (14.350) and high bar (14.500). As a team, OU put together season-highs on floor (69.600) and high bar (69.500).
Saturday marks the first time in head coach Mark Williams’ tenture that the Sooners have faced off with Navy in a dual meet. The last time OU and Navy competed was the 2017 NCAA Championship Qualifiers. The Sooners qualifed as the No. 1 seed, earning a 430.600. Navy failed to qualify for the NCAA Finals with a 400.650. Individually, OU won four event titles while Navy’s Jonathon Tang claimed the all-around title.
THE CHAMP RETURNS
Junior Yul Moldauer has made his mark on the OU record books and continues his storied career this season. In the first two meets of the season, Moldauer’s performances earned him both NCAA and MPSF gymnast of the week. Two weeks ago against Iowa, the junior pick up two more event titles, bringing his season total to 11. Last week at the Winter Cup, the junior qualified for the U.S. Senior National Team for the third straight year. Moldauer is a three-time individual national champion and became just the second freshman to ever win the NCAA 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).
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 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 43 straight regular season wins at home.
THERE’S ONLY ONE
On Feb. 10, OU topped the NCAA-high score it set the previous week with a 418.850. With their impressive performance, the Sooners 416.167 average score ranks first in the NCAA. They also boast the top averages on parallel bars (69.867) and high bar (68.083), rank second on still rings (70.283), and third on pommel horse (67.750) and vault (71.767). Individually, Yul Moldauer ranks first on still rings (14.750), Hunter Justus is third on vault (14.633) Genki Suzuki is fourth in the country on high bar (14.117).
CRIMSON, CREAM, RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Last weekend, eight former, current and future Sooners traveled to Las Vegas, Nev. to compete at the Winter Cup. Performances at the Winter Cup Challenge will help determine the men who will comprise the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team through the 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston, Aug. 16-19. Out of the 12 selected to the team, three were Sooners with junior Yul Moldauer along with alumni Allan Bower and Alex Naddour making the team.
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 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.
After a bye week, OU concludes its home schedule as they host California on “Senior Night,” March 10 at 7 p.m. The Sooners will honor seniors Hunter Justus and Reese Rickett in the final home meet of their storied careers. For tickets to OU’s last home meet, call the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-GoOU, or click here.