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Despite loss of stars, Sooner gymnasts poised to make run

BY ROBERT PRZYBYLO Modified: April 15, 2009 at 8:13 am •  Published: April 15, 2009
NORMAN — No Jonathan Horton, no Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, no problem for the Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team.

That’s not entirely true, but the expected dropoff after losing some of the most decorated gymnasts in school history has not happened.

And entering this weekend’s national championships in Minneapolis, OU is poised to make a run for another title.

"I still felt like we’d be pretty good this season, but I’m surprised we were as good as we were so early in the season,” said head coach Mark Williams. "That’s where it all started.”

The Sooners are gunning for their ninth national title and their sixth since 2002 and are ranked second in the nation.

One of the bigger reasons for the continued success has been the performances of sophomore Steven Legendre.

Legendre won national titles on both the floor exercise and the vault as a freshman — the first time an OU freshman has won one national title, never mind two. He is also a member of the senior national team. While he was noted for his strengths on those two events, he’s made the biggest strides this season in some of his weaker ones and has become a complete package.

"He’s expanding on what he’s good at,” Williams said.

NCAA men’s national championships
→When: Thursday-Saturday

→Where: Minneapolis, Minn.

→Scouting report: To go with sophomore standout Steven Legendre, OU coach Mark Williams said senior captain Chris Brooks has made the biggest improvement from last year. The preliminary rounds are Thursday with OU competing in the night session. If OU finishes in the top three of its session, it qualifies for the team finals Friday. The individual event finals are Saturday. OU won the national championship last year.


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