When No. 3 Oklahoma competes with No. 16 Air Force on March 14, it will have been 28 days since they last competed as a team. With nearly a month of downtime between meets, focus becomes the biggest challenge for the Sooners.
Juniors Gage Dyer, Matt Wenske, Alexei Vernyi and freshman Jack Freeman competed at the Winter Cup in Las Vegas over their 28 day NCAA hiatus. The rest of the team have trained at Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center over the break.
“We’re getting restless,” senior Grant Kell said. “It’s what we train all year for. When we’re not (competing) it’s an antsy feeling. We’re ready to get back out there.”
On top of the lack of competition in the last month, the Sooners’ meet against Air Force will be their first meet of the season under the “five-up-five-count” format. Rather than having six gymnasts compete in each event with the weakest score thrown out of the final score, now five gymnasts will compete, and all five scores will contribute to the final score.
“Everybody that (competes) has to count,” Oklahoma coach Mark Williams said. “So it’s important that being in that role that you’re capable of going through practice routines and competition routines without major errors and find a way to finish.”
In an attempt to find their strongest lineups and become accustomed to the new format, the Sooners will hold an inter-squad meet on Friday. The entire team will compete amongst each other individually in order to find the best five for each event. The gymnasts will wear uniforms and be given timed warm-ups, as they would at a regular meet.
“We try to get guys to feel nervous in these inter-squads, so when we go to a meet, we’re used to the nerves and the adversity,” Kell said.
The Sooners' next meet is against No. 16 Air Force on March 14th at 3 p.m.