Sooners Storm Back for First Win
|FX||Alec Krystek (UM)||14.500|
|PH||Yul Moldauer (OU)||13.900|
|SR||Yul Moldauer (OU)||14.950|
|VT||Matt Wenske (OU)||14.850|
|PB||Yul Moldauer (OU)||15.050|
|HB||Genki Suzuki (OU)||14.150|
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Oklahoma men's gymnastics team earned its first victory of season in comeback fashion as it downed Michigan 411.650-403.650 on the road in the opening competition of the year for both programs. OU's 411.650 marks the second-highest total in the country this season, and the win was the 77th in a row for head coach Mark Williams and the Sooners.
Oklahoma captured five of six event titles. Junior All-American Yul Moldauer picked up where he left off last season and claimed three event crowns, while Matt Wenske and Genki Suzuki also each won an event.
"I am happy with how the team responded as we went on," Williams said. "We are happy we got the chance to finally compete. There is still a lot of work to do. It is good to feel like we can be in the mix with other teams now that we have a score."
Oklahoma got off to a bit of a slow start and found itself trailing 134.100-130.750 after the first two rotations. The Sooners started on pommel horse, where Moldauer paced the competition with a 13.900. Despite great floor routines from Hunter Justus and Gage Dyer, Michigan widened its lead during the second rotation.
"We started poorly," Williams said. "When you start like that, you open yourself to not competing the way we want to. We needed to change our attitudes or we were going to be beat."
Oklahoma made its first push on vault. It narrowed the gap after the team totaled 71.650, the nation's second-highest vault score this season. Wenske put up a 14.850 — also the second-highest score in the country — to win the title. Hunter Justus was not far behind the leader with a 14.700. Wenske and Justus' efforts put the Sooners right back in the thick of things.
On still rings, OU turned in an impressive performance. Once again led by Moldauer, who anchored with a 14.950, the Sooners totaled 70.350 for the second-highest score in the country. In his first collegiate meet, Collyn Kellogg turned in an impressive routine. The sophomore tied for third on rings with a 14.000. Steady routines from Jake Maloley (13.950) and Matt Wenske (13.950) helped Oklahoma keep pace with the Wolverines.
When the Sooners moved on to high bar, they were within striking distance of the lead. Oklahoma's lineup dominated the competition and swept the top-five scores in the event while posting the second-highest score in the country with 68.250. Suzuki earned the top spot with a 14.150 while Levi Anderson came in second with a 14.050. Newcomer Gage Dyer (13.650), Moldauer (13.250) and Isamu Ito (13.150) rounded out the lineup for the Sooners.
Finally with the lead going into the last rotation, Oklahoma was ready to distance itself on the scoreboard. It saved the best for last and put up a national-best 70.650 on parallel bars. Like the previous rotation, the top-five scorers were all Sooners. Moldauer earned his final event title with a 15.050 on the parallel bars, the nation's highest score this season. Anderson turned in another excellent routine and earned a 14.200. Suzuki (14.150), Justus (13.700) and Wenske (13.550) helped the Sooners reach the nation's best score.
"We came out in the final three rotations and we were a different team," Williams said. "It is great to see that we have that in us. I hope we can put together six events like that."
Overall, OU became only the second team this season to eclipse the 410.000 mark. Nebraska posted a national-best 411.750.
"We need to get better," Williams said. "We have two great teams coming to Norman next weekend. If we do our job we are going to be fine. We cannot beat ourselves. I am excited to get back home and have our Cleveland Elementary night. We are going to be ready to put on a show."
The Sooners come home for the first time this season as they host current No. 1 Nebraska and No. 5 Stanford at McCasland Field House. The home opener will serve as "Cleveland Night." For the past 13 years, OU men's gymnasts have made regular visits to Cleveland Elementary School in Norman to assist teachers with class activities. As part of the Cleveland Night meet, students will have the opportunity to serve as junior judges, score flashers, march-in leaders, award presenters and PA announcer. The first 500 fans in attendance will also receive shirts celebrating the Sooners' 2017 national championship, and the last three national championship trophies will be on display.