The Norman Transcript

January 19, 2014

Top-ranked Sooners prove the last time no fluke

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — When Oklahoma opened its season last week, it shocked the collegiate men’s gymnastics world by posting its highest score ever of 443 points. It was enough to vault the team to No. 1 in the nation.

Coach Mark Williams, though, wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to prove the score wasn’t a fluke. So when the Sooners took on No. 6 Air Force Saturday in the team’s first home dual of the season, Williams wanted to see another huge score on the scoreboard.

The Sooners were unable to top 443. But Williams had no problem settling for 440.700 as OU defeated the Falcons (412.400) by 58 points at Howard McCasland Field House.

“I think that was important that we showed it wasn’t just a one time deal,” Williams said. “ I really do think we’re going to make a run at the national championship this year.”

OU received a stellar performance from Kanji Oyama. The sophomore from Huntington Beach, Calif., took home his first all-around title with a score of 88.550. Danny Berardini, who took the all-around last week, was five points back in second. The Falcons’ Timmy Wang was in third at 83.350.

“I think I performed pretty well,” Oyama said. “From the beginning I just tried not to get myself too nervous. Trying to stay calm really helped me out. I felt pretty confident.”

The Sooners began the evening on floor exercise. Oyama led the charge with score of 15.150. He was the only gymnast on either team to hit the 15 point plateau as OU grabbed a 74.350 to 67.450 lead after the first rotation.

When OU got the pommel horse, it was All-American Michael Reid who earned the top score with a 15.200, but it was Raymond White’s performance that grabbed the biggest ovation from the fans.

Before the season began, defending national champion Michael Squires talked about increasing the difficulty on his rings routine. It didn’t seem to matter as he hit 15.600 to win the individual title.

Squires was joined by Ethan Jose (14.800) and Oyama (14.700 as the standouts on the rings.

OU didn’t suffer any real issues until it got to the parallel bars. Both Dylan Akers and Sergey Resnick struggled to stick their landings after solid routines.

OU also had issues on the high bar. William Clement and Stanton Rehkemper were unable to complete their routine without Williams having to jump on the mat and keep them from falling.

It wasn’t enough to derail the Sooners.

“The first four events we were great,” Williams said. “Everyone is hitting well. We put up big scores. Kind of went away on parallel bars and high bar.

“We still need some conditioning I think. But overall, we are looking good. I am very positive about what this team’s potential is.”

 

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