OU Wins Second Consecutive National Championship
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. --The Oklahoma men's gymnastics team claimed its second consecutive national title in resounding fashion, taking the lead after two rotations and never relinquishing its advantage. OU outpaced its closest opponent, Ohio State, 222.600-220.700 and held off the Penn State Nittany Lions who posted a score of 219.950. Michigan (217.850), Illinois (217.125) and Iowa (215.250) rounded out the final six teams in the NCAA finals. The NCAA title is the fifth for the gymanstics program and the first for the University of Oklahoma during this school year.
"Last night I told the team that this championship was about excellence," said OU Head Coach Mark Williams. "I told the guys that we wanted to set a standard and win this championship in style. We wanted to separate ourselves from the pack and really prove that we were the best team in the country. I am very proud to say that this team did that tonight."
OU senior Daniel Furney won the NCAA All-Around Championship with a score of 56.100, the second highest NCAA mark this season, and enough to nudge defending champion Raj Bhavsar (55.300) of Ohio State into second. Furney, who won collegiate gymnastics' top honor, the Nissen Emery Award, has snagged every major award to come his way this season. Furney also claim the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Year award, as well as the conference all-around title.
"He is one of the top three gymnast of all time at OU," said Williams, "If not the very best. Not many gymnasts have ever had a weekend like he did. Winning the Nissen Award, all-around championship and his second NCAA Team Championship."
OU trailed after the first rotation for just the third time this season but would bounce back on the night's second event, pommel horse. Each Oklahoma competitor outdid the performance before, culminating with a 9.650 by senior Josh Landis. OU would never relinquish the lead after the second rotation and gained some more momentum on vault. Sophomore Jock Steven stuck a 9.700 on vault, which tied his own school record. The Sooners would break the team vault scoring mark with a final total of 37.425.
"That was when we knew the meet was ours to win," said Furney. "It played out the same way as last season. We were just on fire on vault and knew that no one could touch us after that rotation."
OU would put some icing on the cake by breaking the school parallel bars record during the fifth rotation. The Sooner clobbered the old mark of 36.500 by half a point (37.00) and headed into the final event with a lead of nearly three points. Ohio State would shrink the lead during its final turn on vault but never closed the gap to less than a point.
Williams becomes the first coach in NCAA history to win two NCAA Championships in his first four years at the helm. Williams also reached the 90-win mark (93-7 career) quicker than any other coach in collegiate history.
"I don't know if we will be able to repeat the success we have had the last two years but we're going to try," said Williams. "If the team next year can duplicate the desire these four seniors have put in during their time in Norman we will be very successful. I am going to miss this senior class. They were the ideal student athletes."