Strong finish propels Sooners in men’s gymnastics
Down nearly two points to top-seeded Stanford with two competitors to go in the final rotation, the Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team finished strong on rings to win the school’s eighth men’s gymnastics championships team title April 18 at Stanford. Penn State junior Casey Sandy won the individual all-around title a day later.
The Sooners’ final two competitors on rings were senior co-captains Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons and former all-around champion Jonathan Horton. Abdullah-Simmons gave the team a chance to win with a 15.400, and Horton gave a career performance that earned a 16.100 to earn his team the title.
“That was the first rings routine I think I’ve ever done where at the end I wasn’t tired at all because I had so much adrenaline going,” Horton said. “It was just so much fun to be up there in that handstand before my dismount, just thinking, ‘I’m going to stick this. I’m going to give our team a shot.’”
Several of his teammates had career-high scores at the meet as well, with freshman Steven Legendre earning a career-best 16.400 on the vault, sophomore Reed Pitts earning a 15.400 on the floor exercise, Horton posting a 15.750 in the same event and Russell Czeschin getting a 15.450, also in floor exercise. Legendre’s personal and program-best 16.000 in the floor exercise helped the Sooners set a school record in the event.
“This was the greatest team effort I’ve ever seen and the best team I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here,” Abdullah-Simmons said. “We just went out there and performed. We had fun. That was the whole theme of this week – to embrace it and enjoy every moment because this team will never be back on the floor again. We just loved every moment of it.”
Sooners coach Mark Williams said he knew finishing the meet with his two co-captains on rings would give the team a chance to win.
“I can’t be more proud of the way they finished their careers tonight. We just had kind of a special feeling this week,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to these guys because we’ve been through a lot. I really appreciate them, and I’m very thankful for the effort from my team.”
Stanford finished as runners-up in its home gym, followed by Illinois (which earned a spot in the championship meet for a record sixth consecutive year). Penn State, California and Michigan rounded out the top six.
Stanford coach Thom Glielmi said his team never got comfortable during the meet.
“We were trying to be perfect, when all we needed was to post solid scores that we were capable of,” he said. “It just goes to show that five-tenths of a point is so miniscule. It could have gone either way. Some of our guys might be saying, ‘I could have done five-tenths better on this or that,’ but that’s the difference. That’s what makes this such a great sport.”
In the individual finals, Sandy defeated Horton to become the Nittany Lions’ 15th all-around champion and first since 2005.
“I thought it was a good day today,” he said. “I was capable of being cleaner in my routines, but I am pretty happy how it ended up.”
1. Oklahoma, 363.200; 2. Stanford, 362.750; 3. Illinois, 359.750; 4. Penn St., 357.650; 5. California, 356,150; Michigan, 354.250.
All around: 1. Casey Sandy, Penn St., 91.350; 2. Jonathan Horton, Oklahoma, 90.950; 3. Sho Nakamori, Stanford, 90.150; 4. David Sender, Stanford, 89.100; 5. Tim McNeill, California, 88.400; 6. Jake Bateman, Ohio St., 87.700.
Floor exercise: 1. Steven Legendre, Oklahoma, 16.100; 2. (tie) Jimmy Wickham, Ohio St.; Casey Sandy, Penn St., 15.600; 4. Greg Ter-Zakhariants, Stanford, 15.450; 5. (tie) Russell Czeschin, Oklahoma; Paul Ruggeri, Illinois, 15.375.
Pommel horse: 1. Tim McNeill, California, 15.625; 2. Casey Sandy, Penn St., 14.975; 3. Sho Nakamori, Stanford, 14.700; 4. Kyle Oi, Stanford, 14.600; 5. David Chan, Michigan, 14.550; 6. Daniel Ribeiro, Illinois, 14.450.
Rings: 1. Jonathan Horton, Oklahoma, 16.125; 2. David Sender, Stanford, 15.775; 3. Tommy Ramos, Penn St., 15.725; 4. Bryant Hadden, Stanford, 15.575; 5. Philip Goldberg, Michigan, 15.475; 6. Greg Stine, Air Force, 15.300.
Vault: 1. Steven Legendre, Oklahoma, 16.400; 2. David Sender, Stanford, 16.350; 3. Jimmy Wickham, Ohio St., 16.325; 4. Tyler Yamauchi, Illinois, 16.225; 5. Paul Ruggeri, Illinois, 15.950; 6. Casey Sandy, Penn St., 15.875.
Parallel bars: 1. Tim McNeill, California, 15.650; 3. Casey Sandy, Penn St., 14.950; 3. Wes Haagensen, Illinois, 14.875; 4. (tie) Jonathan Horton, Oklahoma; Chris Brooks, Oklahoma, 14.675; 6. Sho Nakamori, Stanford; 14.625.
Horizontal bar: 1. Paul Ruggeri, Illinois, 15.000; 2. Cole Storer, Minnesota, 14.925; 3. Josh Dixon, Stanford, 14.800; 4. Chris Brooks, Oklahoma, 14.750; 5. Ross Bradley, Illinois, 14.725; 6. (tie) Thomas Kelley, Michigan; Dylan Carney, Stanford, 14.700.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association