Four members of the Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team advanced to Saturday’s finals competition at the 2008 Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, Nev.
Five Sooners (Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, Jonathan Horton, Ian Jackson, Steven Legendre and Jacob Messina) competed in Thursday’s qualification rounds at the Las Vegas Sports Center. Jackson, a sophomore, finished as the first alternate, narrowly missing a berth in the finals.
The best OU performance of the day belonged to freshman Steven Legendre. The Port Jefferson, N.Y., native won the vault competition with a 16.400, defeating 2004 Olympic all-around gold-medalist Paul Hamm (16.300). Legendre also placed third on the floor exercise with a score of 15.400 to finish the day eighth in the all-around standings with an 84.600 total.
Senior co-captains Jonathan Horton and Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons advanced to Saturday’s finals despite competing on only four and three events, respectively. Horton finished in the top 10 on three of his four events, including a fourth-place finish on rings (15.400) and a tie for fourth on high bar (14.850). Abdullah-Simmons was fifth on rings with a 15.350 and also placed in the top-20 on parallel bars (14.400) and high bar (14.050).
Junior Jacob Messina, competing in his first Winter Cup Challenge, tied for 17th on pommel horse (13.550), was 18th on rings (14.450) and tied for 21st on high bar (13.850).
Jackson finished 23rd in the all-around standings with an 81.750 total, just below the cutoff for finals qualification. Also participating in the Winter Cup for the first time, Jackson tied for 17th on vault with a 15.400 and was 21st on floor with a 14.050.
Hamm leads the all-around standings after posting an impressive 92.800 total in his first full meet since the 2004 Olympic Games.
Based on the results and a points-ranking system, the top 42 gymnasts from the qualification round advanced to the finals, scheduled for 9:15 p.m. (CT) on Saturday, Feb. 9. Scores from both days of competition count toward the final rankings for the all-around and individual events.
The Winter Cup Challenge serves as a re-ranking competition for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team. Based on performance at the Winter Cup Challenge, seven gymnasts will be named to the Senior National Team at the conclusion of the event on Saturday. The seven members of the 2007 World Championship Team, including Horton, which placed fourth in the team standings, automatically retain their national team status.