Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gymnastics: Sooners Fall Short, Finish Second at NCAA Championship

For the third straight season, the University of Oklahoma men's gymnastics team captured a second-place finish at the NCAA Championship Saturday night at Penn State's Rec Hall. It marks the 13th consecutive season in which the Sooners, led by head coach Mark Williams, have finished in the top three nationally.

In an exciting final that went back-and-forth between Oklahoma and Michigan, OU posted a 440.100 to finish just behind UM's 443.200. The margin between the two teams was as close as 0.150 points after the fourth rotation and 0.400 points going into the final event.

"I thought this was a fantastic night for us," Williams said. "We hit 100 percent, stuck a lot of dismounts, exceeded all the expectations I've ever had for this team. This is the most excited I have ever been to be second, so I'm thrilled. We have been second six times in the last fourteen years, so these guys have been amazing."

The Sooners' performance was filled with energy and excitement that was unmatched by a team that exceeded expectations throughout the season.

EXTRA: Are you a fan of OU Gymnastics? Subscribe via e-mail to receive latest updates or visit the OU Gymnastics channel.

"The energy was unbelievable," Williams added. "Partly, this team had to find who it was after Jacob Dalton made the Olympic team and didn't come back for his senior season. We were short a guy that was key to our success last season, so I felt like we tried to get as good as we could be, do what we can do and see how far we can go. There was no way I could have projected this team finishing second and they deserve that because of the performance they put on tonight, sticking so many routines, having the energy and just having fun, that was what was really great."

Since 2000, OU is the only collegiate men's gymnastics program to finish in the top four every year at the NCAA Championships, a streak that includes five NCAA championships and six second-place finishes. Oklahoma came in second in 2011 and 2012 as well.

"We just fed off of each other's energy," junior co-captain Presten Ellsworth said. "I did not expect us to do what we did and I just kept telling the guys to go 30 for 30, stick ten dismounts and if we do that, that's a win for us and that is what we did. Michigan came out on top, they were the better team so we had to go in at the end and shake their hands."

OU gymnasts claimed event highs on three apparatuses. Michael Squires scored a meet-high 15.800 on rings, Alec Robin notched a 15.400 on vault and Michael Reid's 15.150 was also a meet high. The Sooners posted the top team score on vault, while Michigan claimed the highest team totals on every other event.

Robin, a sophomore, posted a career high 86.650 in the all-around to finish in fifth place and earn All-American honors for the first time in his career. Michigan's Sam Mikulak won the all-around title.

Individual event national champions will be awarded on Sunday, where the Sooners will be represented 10 times in the individual finals and at least one gymnast on each event. Robin will compete on both vault and high bar.

OU opened the NCAA Finals with a 73.600 on floor and found itself in third place. Dylan Akers got the Sooners started with a 14.550, followed by Oyama's meet-high and career-high tying 15.250. Every OU gymnast posted a score of at least 14.400.

On pommel horse, the Sooners posted a 71.600 and fell into fourth place, just 1.100 points behind third-place Iowa and 2.500 points behind Stanford, in second. On pommel, OU was anchored by Reid's meet-high 15.150, while Raymond White scored a 14.600 and Troy Nitzky a 14.05.

The Sooners put together a solid rings routine to score a 75.450 and was in second place with a 220.650 halfway through the competition. Just 1.2 points separate the top three teams. Oklahoma was anchored by Squires' meet-high 15.800. Chris Stehl posted a 15.400 and will also compete in Sunday's individual finals.

A 74.100 on vault made a close finals even closer. With a 294.750, the Sooners were just .150 points behind first-place Michigan's 294.900. Robin scored a meet high 15.400 as OU's final competitor. Presten Ellsworth added a 14.850, while Raymond White scored a 14.700 and Todd Dowdy tied his career high with a 14.650.

After five events, OU had 367.350 points, and Michigan had 367.750. Just 0.400 separate the two teams, with UM holding the slight advantage. On parallel bars, OU notched a 72.600 and was led by Danny Berardini's 14.900.

OU closed with a 72.750 on high bar for an unofficial total of 440.100. Michigan scored a 75.250 on floor to capture the title. The Sooners were led by William Clement's 14.800.

The individual event championship will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.

 Michigan 75.250 72.250 75.800 73.050 73.800 73.050 443.200
 Oklahoma 73.600 71.600 75.450 74.100 72.600 72.750 440.100
 Stanford 73.500 70.100 72.650 74.000 73.700 72.200 436.150
 Penn State 73.600 71.850 75.000 72.300 71.950 71.400 436.100
 Iowa 71.400 67.200 74.850 71.250 71.500 70.250 426.450
 Illinois 71.450 67.900 73.850 72.200 68.200 68.950 422.550

 Event Leaders
 Event  Gymnast  Score
 Floor  Trevor Howard (PSU)  15.450
 Pommel  Michael Reid (OU)  15.150
 Rings  Michael Squires (OU)  15.800
 Vault  Alec Robin (OU)  15.400
 P-Bars  Brian Knott (Stanford)  15.450
 H-Bar  Sam Mikulak (Mich.)  15.650
 OU Team Highs
 Event  Gymnast  Score
 Floor  Kanji Oyama  15.250
 Pommel  Michael Reid  15.150
 Rings  Michael Squires  15.800
 Vault  Alec Robin  15.400
 P-Bars  Danny Berardini  14.900
 H-Bar  William Clement  14.800
Share this PostTwitter sharePin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This