The fourth-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team begins a three meet road trip Saturday as the Sooners visit No. 10 Iowa. The top-10 clash is slated for a 2 p.m. start at the Field House on the Iowa campus.
Saturday’s event marks the return to NCAA competition for Oklahoma, after five members of the squad competed in the 2008 Winter Cup Challenge, a USA Gymnastics re-ranking event, Feb. 7-9 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Oklahoma’s last collegiate competition was a record-breaking one. The Sooners defeated MPSF rival Nebraska in Norman on Feb. 1, posting a season-high team score of 355.500. OU also set season marks on floor (60.250), pommel horse (55.850), rings (60.800) and vault (63.200), while nine Sooners recorded individual bests.
The matchup with Iowa should provide OU head coach Mark Williams the chance to better gauge what his lineup will be as the postseason approaches. Among the additions to the OU arsenal, senior co-captain Jonathan Horton will likely compete on the floor exercise and vault for the first time this season. Horton is the reigning NCAA floor champion and was earned All-America honors on both events in 2007. A strong candidate for a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, Horton has been gradually increasing his competitive work load following a busy summer and fall on the international gymnastics scene.
Even without Horton, Oklahoma has boasted two of the best floor and vault lineups in the country. The Sooners are second on vault and fourth on the floor in the Feb. 11 GymInfo rankings. Several of OU’s underclassmen have led the way through the first four meets of the season. Freshman Steven Legendre, a two-time MPSF Gymnast of the Week honoree already this season, ranks fourth in the country on floor with an average score of 15.212. Sophomore Ian Jackson, who claimed the all-around title in the Sooners’ Feb. 1 win over Nebraska, is tied for fourth in the nation on vault, averaging a score of 15.875.
The Hawkeyes are 4-9 all-time against the Sooners. In last year’s matchup between the teams, OU swept all six events en route to a 220.500-209.800 victory in Norman on March 17.
Iowa is led by head coach Tom Dunn, in his 29th year with the Hawkeye program. Senior Jacob Becker and junior Geoff Reins, both 2007 All-Americans, anchor an Iowa squad that finished ninth at the 2007 NCAA Championships.
Live scores from Saturday’s meet will be available at HawkeyeSports.com, and will be linked on SoonerSports.com as well.