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January 12, 2013

Runners up last year, Sooners expect to get right back into title contention



“The great thing about the sophomores is that they now have the scope of a full season behind them and they understand the whole process of competing throughout the regular season and into the championship rounds and team finals,” OU coach Mark Williams said.

The Sooners and everybody else will be confronted with a new scoring system.

In the past, six gymnasts have competed on each apparatus, with the top four scores added together to determine the team’s score. This season, five scores will count. Also, beginning in March, only five will perform on each apparatus, leaving no place for a weak performance to be tossed out.

The new format will reward consistency and depth.

“I think from a spectator standpoint, it will be much easier to understand who’s winning and who’s doing well,” Williams said. “When somebody falls, it will affect your team right then. You know you won’t have the option to drop a score later.”

OU will be without All-American and Olympian Jake Dalton for the first time in three seasons. Remaining gymnasts know they must step up.

“Everybody had taken it upon themselves to make up for what he brought to the team,” said sophomore Dylan Akers, who competes in every discipline. “I just want to see myself consistently putting up scores for the team.”

OU kicks off its season today at the Rocky Mountain Open, where the Sooners will be joined by Nebraska, Arizona State, Washington and host Air Force.

As the team prepares to make a run at the program’s ninth national championship, OU believes it has what it takes to finish the job.

“I think it’s more than just training,” Nitzky said. “I think it’s becoming a closer team, which I think we have more than any other year.”

Michael KinneyFollow me

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