Sooners Electric in Season-Opening Win over Air Force

Sunday, 14 January 2024 13:50

Sooners Electric in Season-Opening Win over Air Force

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Sooners Electric in Season-Opening Win over Air Force OU Athletics Communications

NORMAN – Junior Emre Dodanli won three event titles and the Oklahoma men's gymnastics team swept all six team events in a 413.600 to 382.750 win over Air Force in its season opener Saturday evening at McCasland Field House. It was OU's 61st consecutive meet victory in the field house, a streak that dates back to the 2007 season.

Dodanli claimed the floor exercise (14.750), vault (14.700) and high bar (14.050) titles, while freshman Tas Hajdu won still rings (14.100) and freshman Colin Flores won parallel bars (13.800). The Sooners scored at least a 67.800 on every event, including a meet-high 72.100 on vault. OU posted a 68.900 on floor, 68.400 on pommel horse, 67.900 on rings, 67.800 on parallel bars and 68.500 on the high bar.

"I'm really happy with what the new guys did and the energy of the meet," Oklahoma head coach Mark Williams said. "We had a really good crowd, even with sub-zero temperatures. Our guys performed all the way through the end. I think we have the makings of a really good team. There are challenges with going on the road that we'll face next weekend, but it's nice to have this one under their belt and gain some confidence going into the Rocky Mountain Open. I'm happy with it."

Fifteen different gymnasts competed for the Sooners Saturday night, including four athletes competing in an OU uniform for the first time. On floor, redshirt freshman Leo Koike notched a 13.800 and fifth-year senior Jack Freeman scored 14.400 before Dodanli's meet-best 14.750 anchor routine. Senior Zach Nunez led the way on pommel horse with a 14.250, while sophomore Kelton Christiansen scored a career-high 13.350, junior Cailen Walker registered a career-high 13.700 and redshirt sophomore Fuzzy Benas hit a 13.250 in his first routine in NCAA competition after missing the 2023 season with an injury.

Sophomore Adriel Perales-Valencia started rings with a 13.450, junior Nikolai Kolesnikov scored a career-high 13.350, Hajdu hit his meet-high 14.100 and senior newcomer Zachary Marckx, who previously competed for OU's club team, anchored with a 13.700. The Sooners led the Falcons 205.200 to 198.500 at the midway point.

Oklahoma created even more separation with its big vault rotation. Bereznev scored a 14.500, Koike hit a 13.900, Flores notched a 14.400 and Benas scored a 14.600 before Dodanli closed it out with his 14.700. Following the fourth rotation, OU led 277.300 to 260.000.

Flores scored a meet-best 13.800 to begin parallel bars, sophomore Ignacio Yockers notched a 13.500 on his first p-bars routine in competition, Perales-Valencia hit a 13.650 and Nunez rounded out the rotation with a 13.600. Freeman led off high bar with a 13.950, junior Brigham Frentheway scored a career-high 13.500, Dodanli won the event with his 14.050 in the third position, Benas scored a 13.350 and Christiansen finished the meet with a 13.650.

"We saw some really awesome performances," Williams said. "Emre was great on vault and high bar and floor was great. Fuzzy had a great start after being out for a full year. It's good to have him back in the lineup. The new guys, Zachary Marckx and Tas Hajdu did a great job on rings, and Max Bereznev and Colin Flores did their job. They didn't look like freshmen, which is nice to see. We'll take that and move down the road and hopefully continue to get better. We know that we're probably going to have to get up to the 420 range to get up to the ballpark of the Stanford and Michigans of the world. We'll take them as they come, and it was a great start."

FINAL RESULTS    

The Sooners travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., next Saturday for the Rocky Mountain Open at the Air Force Academy. The meet is set for a 7 p.m. CT start.

Oklahoma will next compete at McCasland Field House on Feb. 3 (5:45 p.m. start) against Ohio State and Arizona State. It will be the program's annual Cleveland Elementary Night.



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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