OU Men’s Gym: Sooners Place Third at NCAA Championships

Sunday, 21 April 2024 16:13

OU Men’s Gym: Sooners Place Third at NCAA Championships

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Photo by Andy Wilhelm Photo by Andy Wilhelm OU Athletics Communications

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Redshirt sophomore Fuzzy Benas took home bronze in the all-around and the Oklahoma men's gymnastics team placed third in the finals of the NCAA Championships Saturday evening at Ohio State's Covelli Center.

The Sooners scored 412.956, behind Stanford's 425.324 and Michigan's 419.689. Nebraska (412.427) placed fourth, Illinois (411.659) placed fifth and Ohio State (399.122) placed sixth.

Oklahoma has finished among the top 3 teams in 22 of the last 23 NCAA Championships held and has finished in the top 4 in every championship during Mark Williams' 25 seasons as head coach (no NCAA postseason was held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Benas scored 83.864 in the all-around, paced by his 14.800 vault and 14.566 parallel bars set. He finished just off the podium in fourth place on parallel bars and placed eighth on vault.

Oklahoma set a season high on vault by scoring 73.532 as a team, which was second in the meet to Stanford's 73.632. OU beat its previous season high on the event, which was set Friday night, by 0.67 points. The Sooners also posted the second highest pommel horse score in the meet with their 69.432.

"I'm really pleased with this team," Williams said. "We've improved a lot from the beginning of the year. We're a relatively young group, and to finish third in the country at the national championship is a huge accomplishment. We had a great day yesterday and had a few mistakes today. Stanford is a formidable champion and had a great night, and they had no mistakes, and Michigan is a good team. Yesterday we were a little higher scoring, but we fought to the end today and I can't fault their effort."

Four Sooners earned a total of six All-America honors by placing in the top 8 on their respective events. Benas earned All-America status in the all-around, on vault and on parallel bars. Junior Emre Dodanli claimed All-America honors on floor exercise and parallel bars, freshman Max Bereznev earned All-American status on vault and freshman Nico Hamilton earned an All-America honor on floor exercise.

"I'm really actually very pleased with the season in general," Williams said. "I'm just happy for these guys, because even when we had some adversity, we were able to find a way to hang in there. Finishing in the top three for the majority of the years I've been a head coach is still hard. I'm just really proud of the way these guys handled things the last two days."

After its massive vault rotation, Oklahoma sat in third place and trailed first-place Stanford by only 2.7 points. The 73.552 was OU's highest vault team score since the 2019 MPSF Championship (73.900). Freshman Tyler Flores led off with a stuck 14.566, junior Brigham Frentheway followed with a 14.600 and Benas stuck his 14.800, before Dodanli landed a 14.600 and Bereznev stuck a 14.966 in the anchor position.

Benas stuck his parallel bars landing for the 14.566 to place fourth and Dodanli anchored the rotation with a stuck 14.333 to place eighth. Sophomore Ignacio Yockers notched a 13.400 and Hamilton posted a 13.233, as the Sooners scored 68.165 on the event. In the final event on horizontal bar, fifth-year senior Jack Freeman led the way with his 13.400 and Dodanli anchored with a 13.266. Sophomore Kelton Christiansen stuck his dismount for a 13.200 and Benas notched a 13.000.

Oklahoma started the meet on floor exercise, scoring 69.664 as a team. Dodanli placed fifth with his 14.433 in the anchor position and Hamilton placed sixth with his 14.233. Benas stuck his floor dismount for a 13.766, Freeman scored a 13.266 and junior Brigham Frentheway led off the meet with a 13.966.

OU's 69.432 on pommel horse was paced by a 14.066 by senior Zach Nunez and Yockers' 14.000. Benas notched a 13.966, freshman Tyler Flores scored 13.800 and Christiansen posted a 13.600 in the leadoff position.

Three Sooners stuck their dismounts on still rings to lead the team to a 67.464 team score. Junior Matthew Burgoyne scored a 13.233, Benas hit a 13.766 and freshman Tas Hajdu posted a team-high 13.866. Senior Zachary Marckx notched a 13.366 and senior Dan Simmons scored 13.233.

In all, Oklahoma registered 11 routines with scores of 14 or better in the meet. This was the eighth time in 12 meets this season in which all five Sooners posted 14s or higher on vault.

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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