NORMAN — After watching Sooners co-captain Troy Nitzky finish sticking his routine on rings, Jake Dalton had to focus himself in only a few seconds' time.
The junior was next on floor exercise, but his roommate was in the midst of his routine.
“Right when we were about to go, he said I'm following you on rings so set me up for floor, and we'll be good,” Nitzky said.
Dalton patiently waited for Nitzky to post a score good enough to earn All-American honors. Then the Reno, Nev., native showed why he won the all-around title just one night before when he dropped a 15.95 with his floor routine in the NCAA men's gymnastics event finals Saturday night at Lloyd Noble Center to earn second place in the event.
He followed that performance by winning the individual NCAA Championship for parallel bars, making him the first OU gymnast in school history to grab All-American honors in six events at an NCAA meet.
Dalton feels good about his opportunity to become one of the men selected to represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games this summer.
“Hopefully, chances are very good,” Dalton said. “All I can do is do my gymnastics and leave it up the committee to select that team.”
Dalton's ability to summon his best gymnastics when it counts is one reason Oklahoma coach Mark Williams believes he is a favorite to represent the U.S.
“I think this bodes very well, going into the Olympic trials,” he said. “He's at the top of his game. It's getting easier for him, and he's doing very high level gymnastics. He should be able to keep up with the best countries in the world.”
Dalton proved he's in good enough shape to perform, competing in 15 events over three consecutive days.
“It didn't faze him,” Williams said. “He said he wasn't even that tired or sore today.”
Dalton's accomplishments in the sport warrant a close look at the trials. He was a member of Team USA's world championship team in 2011 and competed on the U.S. Junior National Team for three years.
Securing two national titles during a weekend of competition against the nation's best collegiate gymnasts only serves to bolster his already impressive résumé.
“I think he's a lock on the team,” Nitzky said. “I think he's exactly what the team needs to go out there and win a gold medal in the Olympics. He just needs to keep training exactly like he is and be consistent all four days at the qualifier, and he'll be good.”