OU Men’s Gym: Sooners Advance to 24th Consecutive NCAA Finals

Saturday, 20 April 2024 08:55

OU Men’s Gym: Sooners Advance to 24th Consecutive NCAA Finals

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Photo by Andy Wilhelm Photo by Andy Wilhelm OU Athletics Communications

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Oklahoma men's gymnastics team registered the highest team score of the NCAA Championships qualifying round on Friday to advance to its 24th consecutive NCAA Finals. The No. 2-seeded Sooners posted a 418.957 to edge No. 3 Michigan, which scored 418.954 in the evening session of the qualifier, held at the Ohio State's Covelli Center.

Junior Emre Dodanli placed first on floor exercise with a 14.866 routine and freshman Max Bereznev won vault with his second 15.000 of the season. OU's team score was its second highest this season.

Oklahoma notched the highest team score on pommel horse (70.332) and vault (72.866). OU posted its highest vault score of the season and second highest scores on still rings (67.999) and parallel bars (70.364).

"I'm a little bit in awe at just how well prelims went," Oklahoma head coach Mark Williams said. "We just looked comfortable and poised. It was one of those nights where everything came together pretty easily, and the guys hit 100%. Finishing with the high score over both sessions certainly suggests that we're in the hunt for a national championship. We'll go back and get rested and be ready to fight for that tomorrow."

The Sooners will face Michigan, No. 1 Stanford, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Nebraska and No. 6 Ohio State in the NCAA finals at 5 p.m. CT Saturday.

Michigan and Ohio State (408.725) advanced out of OU's qualifying session, while Stanford (417.389), Nebraska (413.123) and Illinois (410.461) advanced from the afternoon session.

Oklahoma got off to a solid start by posting a 69.465 on floor exercise. Freshman Nico Hamilton scored a 14.000, followed by Dodanli's 14.866 to close out the rotation. It was Dodanli's sixth score higher than 14.8 this season, and he remains the only gymnast in the country to score above that mark on floor exercise this year. Senior Jack Freeman notched a 13.966, redshirt freshman Leo Koike scored 13.300 and junior Brigham Frentheway started OU with a 13.333.

Sophomore Ignacio Yockers anchored an excellent pommel horse rotation with his 15.100. It was his fourth 15-plus of the season and contributed to OU's third-highest pommels score this year. Senior Zach Nunez posted a 14.033, redshirt sophomore Fuzzy Benas scored 13.666, freshman Tyler Flores notched a 13.933 and sophomore Kelton Christiansen led off with a 13.600.

Bereznev and junior Matthew Burgoyne stuck their dismounts to begin the rings rotation, scoring 13.600 and 13.500, respectively. Senior Dan Simmons scored 13.266, freshman Tas Hajdu notched a 13.900 and senior Zachary Marckx anchored with a 13.733.

For the seventh time this season, all five gymnasts scored 14 or higher on vault. Bereznev was the only gymnast in either session on Friday to hit 15.000 on the event. Benas also stuck his landing for a 14.800. Flores led off with a 14.333, followed by a 14.433 by junior Brigham Frentheway and a 14.300 by redshirt freshman Leo Koike.

Flores notched a career-high 14.166 to start Oklahoma on parallel bars. Yockers posted a 13.633 and Hamilton scored 13.766, before Benas (14.466) and Dodanli (14.333) finished the rotation with a pair of 14s.

OU finished the event on high bar, posting a 67.931 team score. Frentheway notched a 13.266 in the leadoff, followed by a 13.900 by Christiansen and a 13.466 by Benas. Freeman scored 13.633 and Dodanli anchored with a stuck 13.666.

In all, Oklahoma registered 12 scores of 14.000 or better in the meet.

The NCAA Championship finals on Saturday evening will determine team, all-around and individual event champions. A free live video stream via NCAA.com and live scoring will be available.

For updates and more information on Oklahoma men's gymnastics, follow the Sooners on Twitter and Instagram (@OU_MGymnastics) and like Oklahoma Men's Gymnastics on Facebook.

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