2012 NCAA Championship - Team Qualifier

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
APRIL 19, 2012

April 19, 2012

Oklahoma Head Coach Mark Williams
Opening Statement...
"I was pleased with the performance tonight. Our goal was to qualify and be in the top three teams. Some events, we exceeded our expectations for tonight. I was real happy with the pommel horse, as a team. We still have room to get better. I held out Jake Dalton on a couple things along with Dylan Akers, so I think we can do better tomorrow night."

On the freshmen...
"I thought they had a little bit of nerves on high bar, which was our second event. You could kind of see there was a little bit of jitters in a couple of those young guys. They kind of settled in as we got to floor and pommel horse was awesome. At that point, it was just keep doing what we're doing. We were strong on rings and vault. I was pleased. I almost scratched Jake [Dalton] at the end of the vault lineup, but thought it might be close, and it would be worth getting the first pick if we won. It was close. Turns out, we got third pick, and we are going to start on floor tomorrow."

On competing for a national championship on their own campus...

"We didn't want to get the emotions to high tonight. We felt like we could have our meet and finish in the top three. I cautioned the guys to be a little conservative in terms of their energy and enthusiasm when guys were competing. I think we can be better. With the energy from the crowd, we can certainly be half a tenth better tomorrow."

Senior Patrick Piscitelli (FX, SR, V, PB)
On the freshmen...
"We have a lot of freshmen. Two-thirds of our team is freshmen. For me, I've never seen that in my four years, so it's something new for the OU gymnastics program. In the same essence, it's an opportunity to take a whole, big group of talented guys in different fields and mold them to our program. Given the whole, this is our program, this is what we do, this is how we do it and this is how we become a part of Sooner tradition. They've been doing an outstanding job. Today they did a great job all across the board, definitely on pommel. That was key. I'm just very proud of all the freshmen. They didn't have the luxury to sit and watch their first year. Once they were in the program, we used them right away."

On competing for a national title at home...
"It definitely adds a little pressure, but when you weigh it out with that magic, that X-factor that Sooner fans bring, it definitely helps more than it adds that pressure. It's a beautiful thing. I've never had the opportunity to have a host meet with the NCAA's here at Oklahoma, so this is our first time and I know it's going to be a packed house tomorrow."

Freshman All-Arounder Dylan Akers
On competing in his first national championship...
"It was pretty exciting. Today our goal was to just get through the routines, hit them like we know how to and then tomorrow go out as hard as we can and hit them as best as we can. Knowing that, I don't feel like I've really experienced it, but it's getting there."

Junior All-Arounder Jake Dalton
On how losing to Illinois by half a tenth of a point isn't discouraging...
"First place gets first choice of where they start on tomorrow, so that's the only thing that has any count for today. The top three makes it to tomorrow. That's what we wanted to do, make it to tomorrow and hit our routines. We didn't put our full lineup out there, so we went out there and did what we wanted to do out there."



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