The No. 1 Sooners soundly defeated the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal in Norman Saturday night, drawing consistent performances from throughout their lineup in route to a 447.700-437.250 win.
OU put up the nation’s highest score so far this year and further distanced themselves from Michigan, who currently hold the No. 2 ranking.
The Cardinal, for their part, did not perform poorly. US National first-teamer Akash Modi put up big scores for Stanford on floor (15.40) and vault (15.15). Junior Michael Levy also had a good night, highlighted by his 15.250 on the floor. Stanford’s 437.250 was their best score of the year and might be enough to move them up in the rankings.
But no team was beating the Sooners tonight. OU posted season-high scores on half of its events, and tied for best with last week’s pommel horse score of 74.70. Many individuals, like Allan Bower with his 15.00 vault, put up new career-high event scores.
“I just felt like the team had my back and I went in mentally prepared and feeling good,” Bower said.
He wasn’t alone. Danny Berardini on rings, Kanji Oyama on floor and vault, Alec Robin on pommel horse, Michael Reid on pommel horse and Michael Squires on still rings all rewrote their top event scores tonight.
Squires’s performance is perhaps the most surprising. Just when it seemed the defending still rings national champion couldn’t get any better, he came out tonight and gave the Sooners a huge boost in his only event.
OU head coach Mark Williams said he was happy overall with his team’s performance, though he said the Sooners could have finished better on high bar. Indeed, with better scores on parallel bars and high bar, OU's score might have approached 450.
He also stressed the importance of preparing for upcoming “five-up, five-count” meets, where only five gymnasts perform each event and their scores are all factored. There’s no room for error in such meets.
“We’ve got to figure out who’s going to step out there and be able to finish routines without any major errors,” Williams said. “When you start a routine and raise your hand, you’ve got to be able to get out there and get it done. We’ve got to find five guys on each event that will do that.”
Williams was referring to junior all-arounder Kanji Oyama, an important piece of the Sooner lineup who excelled on vault but took a nasty mid-routine spill on the parallel bars, sustaining a mild concussion. He finished the routine for a 12.30, but must be cleared by the medical staff before he can resume practice.
Oyama’s fall was the exception and not the rule during the meet. OU dominated in every way, especially through the first four rotations and was able to coast to its season-high score. After a first rotation in which all six Sooners earned scores over 15 to start the night, one had to suspect it would be a special evening for OU.
The Sooners now look ahead to the Metroplex Challenge next Friday in Fort Worth. Stanford, Arizona State, Texas A&M and Texas will all be present and looking to end the OU run of dominance.
That isn’t likely to happen. Now that OU sits comfortably atop the standings, they can focus on taking this week’s high score and repeating it — or maybe even improving on it.
As Bower put it, “We’ve just got to stay humble, and get back in the gym and do what we do every day.”