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University of Oklahoma Athletics

University of Oklahoma Athletics

 


THE MEETING

Oklahoma will compete for its 13th national championship this weekend at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio. The No. 2 seed Sooners will face No. 3 Michigan, host and No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State, No. 10 Air Force and No. 11 Springfield in the second qualifying session at 6:00 PM CT on Friday, 19 April OU begins floor exercise.

The first qualifying session, held Friday at noon CT, will feature No. 1 Stanford, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 8 California, No. 9 Navy and No. 12 Greenville.

The top three teams and the top three all-around competitors who are not on any of the qualifying teams, plus the top three individuals at each event who have not yet qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor, will advance from each qualifying session to the finals. The NCAA Championship finals, scheduled for Saturday, April 20 at 5:00 PM CT, will determine the team, all-around and individual event champions.

WATCH/FOLLOW

A live video stream of each individual event will be available on NCAA.com provided with commentary. For the finals on Saturdaya video stream provides comprehensive coverage of the match, in addition to the individual device streams.

Live scoring will be available via StatBroadcast: Friday Session II; SaturdayFinals.

STICKS

Oklahoma faced three of its five opponents in the qualifying session during the regular season. The Sooners topped Ohio State 411.500 to 400.600 on February 3 in Norman and fell to Michigan 416.300 to 409.550 on March 2 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. OU has defeated Air Force three times this season: 413,600 to 382,750 on Feb. 13. Norman, 420.350 to 392.750 at the Rocky Mountain Open on January 20 and 418.400 to 395.450 at the MPSF Championship in Norman on April 6.

OU, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Springfield all shared a qualifying session at the 2023 NCAA Championships. The Sooners won that qualifying meet with a score of 415.491, and were followed in qualifying for the finals by Penn State (415.290) and Michigan (413,922).

Sophomore redshirt Vague BenasOU's nominee for CGA Gymnast of the Year, he was named to the USA Gymnastics Men's Senior National Team in February after placing fifth at the Winter Cup. He went on his first international assignment in March, helping Team USA win gold in the Mixed Cup at the DTB Pokal in Stuttgart, Germany. He leads the nation in the all-around with his 82.633 NQA and is among the top 20 nationally in four events: PH (14), SR (19), VT (10), PB (5). In seven meetings with Benas in the lineup as a full participant, the Sooners have an average team score of 415.214 (the exceptions were at Illinois [only three events], at Simpson and at Stanford/vs. Cal [not not compete]). He has completed the all-around five times (including two rounds at the Winter Cup) and has an overall average of 83.170.

Junior Emre Dodanli, OU's CGA Specialist of the Year nominee, has the five highest floor exercise scores in the nation this season (15.250 at Rocky Mountain Open, 15.050 vs. Cal, 14.900 at Michigan, 15.050 at Stanford/Cal and 14.950 in the MPSF Championship). Nationally, no gymnast has scored higher than 14.800 on floor this season. He is the first gymnast nationally to record a score of 15+ on floor since the 2021 season. His 15.250 was the highest floor score nationally since the 2021 NCAA Finals (15.266 by OU's Gage Dyer). He is among the top 10 nationally in three events: FX (1), HB (6), VT (8).

The Sooners have won 45 individual event titles and 38 team event titles in nine meets this season (including the highest score on the high bar in nine of the 10 meets [March 16 was the exception]). Dodanli paced OU with 12 event wins in his eight meets while a sophomore Ignacio Yockers has claimed nine event titles, sophomore Kelton Christiansen has won four and Benas has won three. Dodanli, who led the team with seven event titles in 2023, currently has the most individual event medals by a Sooner since Benas won 12 event titles in 2022. Dodanli (FX), Yockers (PH) and Christiansen (HB) won conference titles at their respective events.

Freshman Nico HamiltonOU's nominee for CGA Rookie of the Year, has appeared in eight meets this season and ranks 10th nationally in floor exercise (13.988). He is the only freshman ranked in the national top 10 in floor exercise. He was named CGA national Rookie of the Week on March 6 and MPSF Freshman of the Week twice (March 5 and March 12). He earned a near-perfect execution score of 9.5 in his 14.800 floor routine at Michigan, scoring 14 or better in three of his six floor routines. Despite not competing in OU's first two meets of the season, Hamilton made his debut on parallel bars on January 28 at Illinois, scoring a 13.800 in his first collegiate routine and posting a career-high 13.950 on the event in the MPSF Championship.

In six meets this season, all five Sooners have scored 14.000 or better in the vault lineup: at Illinois (Jan. 28), vs. California (Feb. 10), at Simpson (Feb. 17), at Michigan (March 2), vs. Navy (March 9) and at Stanford/vs. Cal (March 16). OU scored better than 72.000 on vault seven times and a whopping 70.950 (coincidentally, that was at the Rocky Mountain Open, when it scored a season-high of 420.350 in the team all-around).

Oklahoma's 70.950 on the high bar on February 10 was the highest score on the event since posting a 71.150 on March 9, 2019, and the first score over 70 on the high bar since March 16, 2019 (70.100). Christiansen posted a career and team season high of 14.700, which was OU's highest individual high bar score since the 2019 season.

NATIONAL RANKING COMMENTS

Oklahoma enters the NCAA postseason leading the nation in floor exercise (70.200 NQA; 0.712 points higher than second-place Nebraska). [69.488]) and horizontal bar (68.638 NQA; 0.400 points higher than second-place Nebraska [68.238]). OU ranks second on pommel horse (69.650 NQA; 0.588 points behind Stanford [70.238]) and vault (72.263 NQA; 0.037 points behind Ohio State [72.300]). The Sooners also rank third on parallel bars (68.575 NQA) and fourth on still bars (68.213 NQA).

Junior Emre Dodanli ranks first nationally in floor exercise with its 14,975 NQA. Fifth-year senior Jack Freemans 14,075 NQA is in eighth place and is a first-year student Nico Hamiltons 13,988 NQA ranks 10th.

Sophomore Ignacio Yockers ranks first on pommel horse with its 15,000 NQA and is the only gymnast in the country with an NQA of 15,000 or higher. Senior Zach Nunez follows in seventh place with its 14,438 NQA.

Dodanli is tied for eighth on vault with his 14.625 NQA, tied with freshman Max Bereznev. Sophomore redshirt Vague Benas follows in 10th place with its 14,613 NQA.

Benas' 14,338 parallel bars NQA ranks third nationally. On the high bar, sophomore year Kelton Christiansen ranks second with its 14,175 NQA, Freeman ranks fourth with its 14,125 NQA, and Dodanli ranks sixth with a 14,000 NQA.

Benas leads the country in the individual all-around with his average of 82.663. His 85.200 at Rocky Mountain Open remains the fourth-highest all-around score in the country this season.

FINAL TIMEOUT

Three Sooners claimed the individual event championships, but Oklahoma finished second to No. 1 Stanford in the MPSF Championship April 6 at McCasland Field House. OU totaled 418.400 and Stanford totaled 422.700, while No. 8 California was third with a 405.600 and No. 10 Air Force finished fourth with a 395.450.

Emre Dodanlia two-time MPSF floor exercise champion, won the floor title with a 14.950, Ignacio Yockers won pommel horse with a 15.150 and Kelton Christiansen won high bar with a 14.100. Vague Benas recorded an 83.700 and placed third in the all-around. He took third place on rings (14.250), vault (14.650) and parallel bars (14.350), while Jack Vrijman finished second on the high bar (14,000).

OU recorded the season's highest score on still rings (69.900), recorded the second-highest score on floor exercise (70.400) and third-highest score on parallel bars (69.500), and recorded the meet's highest score on high bar (67,750). Oklahoma's 418,400 was the second-highest team total this season and the highest score in a home game this year.

Six gymnasts earned a total of nine MPSF all-conference honors: Benas (AA, SR, VT, PB), Dodanli (FX), Yockers (PH), Christiansen (HB), Freeman (HB) and Bereznev (VT).

HISTORY AND TRADITION

Oklahoma has won 12 national championships (1977, '78, '91, 2002, '03, '05, '06, '08, '15, '16, '17, '18), the most in NCAA history (shared with Penn State), including nine national titles since 2000. The Sooners have finished first or second in 19 of the last 22 NCAA championships and have reached 24 consecutive NCAA finals, or every championship held since 2000 (the canceled 2020 championship does not count due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Mark Williams has led Oklahoma to nine national titles over the course of his 24 full seasons as head coach of the Sooners. OU won an NCAA championship in Norman three times: 2002, 2006 and 2015.

The Sooners last won an NCAA championship in 2018 in Chicago, Illinois, snapping a run of four consecutive national titles (2015-18). The Sooners finished second in three consecutive championships: 2019, '21 and '22, and have finished in the top three in 21 of the last 23 NCAA championships.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://soonersports.com/news/2024/4/18/mens-gymnastics-ous-quest-for-ncaa-title-begins-friday

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