Gymnastics: OU Men's Team Wins 20th Conference Title

The No. 2 University of Oklahoma men's gymnastics team captured its 20th conference title and 12th in the past 15 years Saturday night with its second-consecutive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Conference Championship Saturday night in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Sooners posted a 435.350 to finish ahead of No. 4 Stanford's 425.950. No. 9 California finished third with a 419.550, while No. 11 Air Force scored a 416.400. Oklahoma became the only team in the country in conference championship meets to score a 70.000 or higher on all six events. OU posted the top scores on pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and high bar.

Oklahoma head coach Mark Williams was named the MPSF Coach of the Year, while junior Presten Ellsworth was honored with Gymnast of the Year honors. It is the tenth Coach of the Year accolade for Williams since 2000.

"I'm ecstatic for the performance our team had today," Williams said. "When I looked at this team early in the season I didn't expect a whole lot in terms of overall team success throughout the entire year, but they've met and exceeded all the expectations I've had for them. Finishing the regular season ranked second in the country and then winning the conference championship is just thrilling. It was great to see this group come together as a team and win championships. I can't be more proud of them."

OU won five of the six individual conference titles. Sergey Resnick on pommel horse (14.500), Michael Squires on rings (15.650), Alec Robin on vault (15.500), Presten Ellsworth on parallel bars (14.800), and William Clement (14.950) all claimed conference championships. All-time, Oklahoma has now won 116 individual conference crowns.

"We were very dominant in individual performances, where we won five of the six individual events," Williams said. "It just makes today's win even better. We certainly look forward to the challenge of the NCAA Championships coming up, and I think we put ourselves in a good position to contend for another national title."

Since Mark Williams was named head coach in 2000, the Sooners have claimed 11 team championships, all as members of MPSF. Oklahoma's first eight championships came as members of the Big Eight.

OU's win came in come-from-behind fashion after the Sooners found themselves in third place after two events.

Oklahoma opened with a 73.100 on floor. OU was led by Robin, who anchored the Sooners with a career-high and team-high 15.550.

On the second event, the Sooners posted a 70.650 on pommel horse. OU was led by Resnick's 14.500 and Troy Nitzky's 14.400. After two rotations, Oklahoma was just 1.250 points behind first-place Stanford but in third place.

The Sooners' third event was where everything turned in favor of OU. Oklahoma notched a 73.65 on rings to take the lead with a 217.400. Squires anchored with a meet-high 15.65. Seniors Chris Stehl scored a 14.9, while Troy Nitzky earned a 14.65.

With a 2.200 point lead over Stanford at the halfway point, the Sooners scored a season-high 74.1 on vault. Robin's meet high 15.500 was also a career high to lead OU. Stanford, on floor, narrowed the lead and was behind Oklahoma by just 0.9 points.

The Sooners posted a 72.05 on parallel bars and found themselves with a lead of 9.0 points after five rotations. With high bar remaining, OU had a 363.600, ahead of Stanford's 354.600. While no Sooners posted career highs, three gymnasts scored at least a 14.700, led by Ellsworth's 14.800.

Oklahoma closed with a 71.750 on high bar. William Clement scored a 14.950 to lead the Sooners, while Alec Robin posted a 14.750. Danny Berardini and Ethan Jose each notched a 14.350.

No. 2 Oklahoma has next weekend off before competing for its ninth NCAA Championship in Happy Valley, Pa. on April 19-21.

 Oklahoma 73.100 70.650 73.650 74.150 72.050 71.750 435.350
 Stanford 75.450 63.950 71.350 74.450 70.550 70.200 425.950
 California 71.150 67.750 69.350 73.450 67.700 70.150 419.550
 Air Force 69.700 64.200 72.350 72.200 70.000 67.950 416.400
/// SoonerSports PR
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