Sooners Past and Present Set for Winter Cup

Patrick Dunn
By Patrick Dunn
Communications Assistant

NORMAN – The No. 1 Oklahoma men's gymnastics team breaks from NCAA action this weekend as 13 current, former or future Sooners shift their focus to the 2019 Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, Nev., beginning Friday, Feb. 15.

Current Sooners Levi Anderson, Gage Dyer, Spencer Goodell, Vitaliy Guimares, Tanner Justus, Yul Moldauer, Genki Suzuki and Alexei Vernyi are set to compete in the senior elite level competition.

Along with current Oklahoma student-athletes, three former Sooner gymnasts will be competing in Las Vegas in 2017 graduates Allan Bower and Colin Van Wicklen and 2016 alum Kanji Oyama. OU signees Lazarus Barnhill and Jack Freeman will compete in the junior division at the USA Gymnastics meet.

"It's going to be a fun time because we have so many OU guys competing, from freshmen to alumni, so that's going to be awesome."
- Yul Moldauer

Moldauer looks forward to competing all-around for the first time in 2019 in Vegas alongside his teammates.

“I'm super excited,” said the 2017 Winter Cup all-around champ. “I've been training one-on-six in the gym for a while now, so it's finally my time to go out there and do it again, so I'm excited. It's going to be a fun time because we have so many OU guys competing, from freshmen to alumni, so that's going to be awesome. It's going to be a good couple of days of competition, and we have to go out there and do our job.”

Performances at the 2019 Winter Cup will determine the 12 men who will comprise the U.S. Men's Senior National Team through the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 8-11.

Current U.S. National Team member and Sooners' senior co-captain Genki Suzuki looks forward to the chance to retain his national team spot at Winter Cup.

“That's the goal, to be selected (for the national team) or make top six the first day. I'm pretty excited, I'm in the same rotation as Alan and Colin, so it'll kind of bring back the feeling of competing with them whenever they were my upperclassmen. We're a pretty big group, so I'm excited about that. It's just going out there and the goal is to hit six of six the first day, and if I have to do it again, twelve-for-twelve by the end of Sunday.”

The Challenge starts on Friday with two sessions. Signees Barnhill and Freeman will compete in the first session starting at 3 p.m. CT. The current and former Sooners will take part in session two starting at 8:30 p.m. The top 14 athletes from the junior session and the top 28 from the senior session will compete in the finals on Sunday, Feb. 17, starting at 9:15 p.m.

Following the first day of competition, the top six ranked all-around athletes will automatically qualify for the 2019 U.S. senior national team. The Men's Program Committee will select six more gymnasts from the participants at the Winter Cup using the 10 Points Program or from petitions to the team.

At last year's Winter Cup, Moldauer, already an auto-qualifier to the national team after his 2017 World Championships performance, competed only three events on prelims day and one event on finals day. He claimed seventh on pommel horse on the second day of competition. Alum and current U.S. national team member Bower placed fourth in the all-around competition with a two-day total of 165.600. Fellow USNT member Oyama (162.100) also collected a top-10 finish, taking 10th in the all-around.

Live results will be available throughout the Winter Cup. Follow the Sooners at the event on the official live stream on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel.