Feb. 25, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- After starting its first five weeks of the 2012 season on the road, the top-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team finally got a chance to compete in front of a home crowd on Saturday night, scoring a season-best score of 356.250 to take down No. 12 Iowa at the McCasland Field House.
Oklahoma, the No. 1-ranked team in the GymInfo rankings for the past five straight weeks, improved to 9-1 in the home opener win, topping Iowa’s 334.400 total.
“I was happy with our team’s energy and their fight,” said Head Coach Mark Williams. “In terms of team performance I was really happy with the way things went. We still had quite a few mistakes, but we didn’t necessarily have to count any of those. We’re still in the middle of the season and still working on some of that stuff, but in the end we came up with our highest score of the season. I’m very pleased with that.”
Oklahoma won the team title in all six events along with five Sooners combining to win all six individual titles – Jake Dalton (floor, vault), Raymond White (pommel horse), Chris Stehl (rings), Danny Berardini (parallel bars) and Jacoby Rubin (high bar).
The Sooners began their home debut with a hot start on the floor exercise, totaling a 60.750, their second highest floor score of the season. Oklahoma has won the floor title in 23 consecutive regular season meets.
Four Sooners either tied or broke career highs on floor, including a 14.950 by freshman Alec Robin and a 14.850 by senior Michael Heredia. OU was led in the event by Dalton’s meet-best 16.100.
Oklahoma kept up its strong start on pommel horse, where it recorded a season-best 58.650 behind three individual career highs. Sophomore Raymond White led the Sooners with a career-high 14.750. Freshmen Jacoby Rubin and Dylan Akers each scored a 14.650 on the apparatus.
The Sooners are back at home next Saturday when they host defending national champion Stanford on at the McCasland Field House. OU defeated the Cardinal in a conference tri-meet in Berkeley, Calif., on Feb. 12, 351.600-343.700.
Chris Stehl nailed a 15.750 on rings, the highest score in the event by a Sooner this season, to lead OU to a 60.750. Stehl was one of four Sooners to set a personal best on rings. Oklahoma also saw high scores from junior Troy Nitzky with a 15.350 and Dalton’s 15.000.
Oklahoma totaled a 59.100 on vault, just .05 points shy of its season best. Dalton, the 2011 NCAA vault champion, took the event title with a 15.250. Heredia hit his vault for a 14.900, a career-best after calculating the scoring change from this offseason.
Presten Ellsworth, Dylan Akers, Rubin and Berardini all posted career-high scores of over 14.700, including a 14.950 from Berardini. The Sooners were able to set the season-high score on parallel bars without Dalton competing in the event lineup. Dalton holds OU’s two highest individual scores on p-bars this season.
Oklahoma concluded the night on high bar, notching a 57.800 behind Rubin’s career-best 15.250.
The Sooners saw a lot of high scores from their freshman-filled lineup in their home debut.
“I think the younger guys really got a feel for what our team is about,” said Dalton, one of the three captains. “They learned how to get on a roll and keep that roll going the whole meet. It’s a little hard to do that at other competitions. We’ve done it here and there but I think tonight was the best because we started, got on a roll and kept it going. They’re starting to click and starting to get experience. That’s exactly what we need.”
The Sooners are back at home next Saturday when they host defending national champion Stanford at the McCasland Field House. OU defeated the Cardinal earlier this season at a conference tri-meet in Berkeley, Calif., on Feb. 12, 351.600-343.700.
The meet has been named both Cleveland Elementary Night and Sooner Kids Club Night. OU will give away 250 free "There's Only One Oklahoma" tote bags and 250 free kids t-shirts. Sooner Kids Club members will also receive free wristbands.