Justus, Rickett Shine in Senior Night Win
|VT||H. Justus (OU)||14.800|
NORMAN — Despite resting a pair of its best all-around performers for the majority of the night, the No. 1 Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team wrapped up its home season with another victory Saturday, defeating Cal 410.100-397.250 and extending its win streak to 82.
"Without using Yul Moldauer or Levi Anderson, we knew we would use a modified lineup," OU head coach Mark Williams said. "We had a couple of good home scores so that was not much of our motivation tonight. It was about giving an opportunity to some guys and recognizing our seniors. Overall, I feel like we are moving in the right direction."
In the final home meet of their careers, seniors Reese Rickett (still rings) and Hunter Justus (vault) each left McCasland Field House with an event title.
"It was definitely more emotional than I thought it was going to be," Justus said. "It is crazy that it went this fast. It was the most fun home meet I've ever had. Every time I put my hand up, I wanted to make sure I did a good job for my teammates. I'm glad I went out with a bang."
OU gymnasts swept individual honors on all six events.
Freshman Gage Dyer led the Sooners on floor, earning his second-career event title with a season-best 14.450. Tanner Justus finished second for OU with a 14.200 and was followed by Hunter Justus (14.150), Eric Holley (13.150) and Genki Suzuki (12.200) in a 68.150 effort for the team.
Moldauer picked up his only event title of the night on pommel horse with a 14.300 as the Sooners posted a 68.350 in the second rotation. Brian Schibler came close to his career high of 14.150, notching a 14.100. Suzuki (13.950), Hunter Justus (13.450) and Grant Kell (12.550) rounded out the lineup.
On still rings, Rickett’s performed his final routine at McCasland. It was one to remember as he scored a season-high 14.350 and captured his second event title of the season.
"That was the most nervous I have ever been," Rickett said. "I wanted to end on a good note. I feel like a fulfilled that. I am going to miss competing here with the guys."
Jake Maloley came in second for OU with a 14.050, Tanner Justus tallied a 13.550 and Suzuki registered a 13.450. Cameron Wright made his season debut with a 13.200 as the Sooners finished with a 68.600.
At the halfway point, the Sooners led 205.100-202.300.
OU caught fire on vault, scoring a 71.200. Hunter Justus paced the competition with an impressive 14.800. Tanner Justus finished second with a 14.550. Suzuki scored a 14.250 and Eric Holley a 14.100. Mid-season addition Mason Menser made his OU debut with a 13.500.
The Sooners posted their lowest event score of the night, a 66.300, on parallel bars. Suzuki placed first with a 14.000 and was followed by Hunter Justus (13.850), Kell (13.200), Ito (13.000) and Anderson (12.250).
The Sooners put the finishing touches on another undefeated home slate during the last rotation on high bar. Anderson was first with a 13.850. Suzuki (13.700), Ito (13.450) and Kell (13.400) finished in the middle of the pack for OU. Hunter Justus put up a 13.100 in his final routine at McCasland.
Justus and Rickett were both honored before the meet for their accomplishments during their time at Oklahoma. Both have been a part of three national championship teams and have left a lasting impact on the program.
"Hunter has been a leader and an emotional catalyst for us," Williams said of the co-captain. "Sometimes he just wills guys to be better. He has an opportunity to extend this incredible win streak he has been a part of."
Said Williams of Rickett: "Reese has crafted a set that has been very consistent. He's a great teammate and helps on the other events he does not compete on. At times, he is a huge emotional support resource. He can read me, and that is important for this team."
As OU finished its 2018 home schedule, Williams was quick to point out the impact that the McCasland faithful have had on the team's performance.
"This has probably been the best home schedule we have had in my 30 years here," Williams explained. "It is incredible. It's fun when the guys can get the fans involved in the competition and get them on their feet. We hope we can do it again next year."
Looking ahead, the Sooners will hit the road for the first time in over a month as they travel to Champaign, Ill., to take on Illinois next Saturday at 11 a.m. CT. Williams knows the team has much to work on with all of their remaining meets away from home.
"We have to handle the bigger moments,” he said. “We have to get used to the stresses of competing on the road. Championships are won by the mentally tough teams, not neccessarily the best teams. We definitely have some work to do."