NORMAN — It’s taken almost a month, but the Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team has finally decided to come home. After starting the season with four straight road meets, the second-ranked Sooners will host No. 6 Minnesota at 7 p.m. today at McCasland Fieldhouse.
“I know I can’t wait,” sophomore Dylan Akers said. “I’m extremely excited and excited to see how the freshmen are going to react to being in front of the home crowd for the first time. Hopefully we should have quite a few people there. It should be very exciting.”
The Sooners look to extend their 19-meet regular-season home win streak. In four regular season home meets last year, OU claimed titles in 23 of 24 events. Oklahoma’s last home loss came to Ohio State on March 3, 2007.
“I’m expecting a lot of emotion being at home for the first time this season,” OU coach Mark Williams said. “That’s going to be a big energy boost for the guys. We’ve been perfect since 2008 in McCasland Fieldhouse. I’ve tried to tell them we want to defend our home.”
Oklahoma is facing a Gophers squad that lost to Iowa last week but still managed to stay firmly planted in the Gyminfo National Rankings top-10.
Even though the Sooners are eager to compete in front of their home crowd, they haven’t overlooked how successful they have been on the road. They went 10-1 and defeated eight teams ranked in the top 11 during the road trip.
“Winning competitions is always a confidence booster,” Akers said. “We’ve only lost one competition. But even that, we felt we did a great job. I feel like each meet, we’ve learned from and we’ve all collectively worked harder to get better.”
Oklahoma is represented 16 times in the individual event rankings and at least once on every event. Junior Presten Ellsworth is ranked on three events, while sophomore Alec Robin is ranked in the top nine on two events, including fourth on floor.
“We are getting better each meet,” Akers said. “That’s all I can really ask for. We are in the gym, working hard. Improving on how well we are hitting. Now we are starting to hit harder sets. I think as the season has gone on, we keep getting better.”