April 8, 2005
The Sooners also sent seven individuals to Saturday night's individual event finals scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. (CST).
"Tonight's competition was unbelievably close," said OU head coach Mark Williams. "The vault has been one of our weaker events. We had a couple of mistakes early on (on the vault) and it ended up coming down to the very end. The parity is unbelievable and I feel very fortunate to win this. Ohio State is a formidable opponent and they pushed us to the end."
The title marks the third National Championship for the Sooners in the past four years (2003, 2002) and the sixth overall for the OU Men's Gymnastics program (2005, 2003, 2002, 1991, 1978, 1977). It also marks the 24th team national title all-time for University of Oklahoma Athletics.
The competition between Oklahoma and Ohio State came down to the very last rotation, with OU on the vault and the Buckeyes on the still rings. OU nailed a score of 37.275 to outdistance Ohio State. It came down to the very last attempt on the vault, where freshman Jonathan Horton stuck a title-clinching 9.5, tying his career high from the night before.
"I don't know what was going through my mind," said Horton. "I was thinking about the team and about our fans in the stands cheering us on. I wanted to do it for all of them, I wanted to win it for this team and have fun, which I did and I stuck my landing."
"This is something I dreamed of," said OU senior Josh Gore. "It is such a great time being a member of this team. We are the true definition of what a team is. Our foundation is having fun and it makes the competition so much easier."
The Sooners began the team finals on the parallel bars and posted a score of 37.25, their second-highest score of the season on the apparatus, behind the school record 37.4, posted on Jan. 28 against Air Force. Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons broke his own OU school record for the third straight meet with a score of 9.6. Horton then followed Abdullah-Simmons with a 9.325.
From there, OU moved on to the high bar and put up a mark of 37.825. The Sooners were led by the 9.5 of Jamie Henderson and Horton's career high 9.65. The Sooners went into their bye rotation in second place behind California.
After the brief rest, OU resumed the night's competition on the floor exercise and the Sooners did not disappoint, hitting their second highest score of the season, a 37.475. Two Sooners managed to post career highs, Jacob Messina with a 9.525 and David Iammatteo with a 9.425, while Horton added on a score of 9.475.
On the next rotation, OU posted a score of 37.15 on the pommel horse. Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons continued his streak of breaking personal bests as the freshman hit a 9.4. Brian Carr stuck a 9.3 and Josh Gore hit a 9.5 to finish out the rotation for the Sooners.
After the pommel horse, OU was looking for a strong performance on the rings and got exactly what it wanted, tying the school record with a 38.7. Mubarak Abdullah-Simmons came through with another strong performance for the Sooners. One night after setting a career high with a 9.525, Mubarak scored a 9.5. David Henderson added his second highest season score on the event with a 9.75 and then Jonathan Horton followed that up with a 9.775
The Sooners moved into the final event on the vault and in first place, leading Ohio State by 1.325. Messina hit a 9.225, David Henderson hit a 9.425 and Horton hit his vault to clinch the National Championship for Oklahoma.
The seven Sooners who qualified for Saturday night's individual event finals are Jonathan Horton (FX, SR, V, PB, HB), Jacob Messina (FX), David Iammatteo (FX), Josh Gore (PH, PB), Jamie Henderson (SR), David Henderson (SR, V) and Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons (PB).
The Sooners finished the season with a record of 21-2.
Final Team Scores
1. Oklahoma 225.675
2. Ohio State 225.450
3. Illinois 223.750
4. Penn State 222.400
5. California 222.075
6. Michigan 219.775
1. Luis Vargas, Penn State 57.175
2. Randy Monahan, Ohio State 56.550
3. Jonathan Horton, Oklahoma 56.425
4. Guillermo Alvarez, Minnesota 55.650
5. Justin Laury, Michigan 55.450
6. Justin Spring, Illinois 55.250