The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team has had its eyes on a national championship since the beginning of the season. On Saturday, the Buckeyes have an opportunity to prove they’re a legitimate contender.
The Buckeyes hit the floor to battle against the back-to-back national champions No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, Oklahoma. OSU enters the competition ranked No. 3 in the College Gymnastics Association National Rankings, along with a No. 2 ranking on pommel horse with an average score of 69.575.
Last week, Oklahoma posted a score of 432.300 against No. 2 Stanford, preserving its winning streak of nearly three years. The Sooners currently own 61 consecutive victories.
The last time OSU defeated Oklahoma was in 2014 with an overall score of 446.15 over Oklahoma’s 444.30 at St. John Arena.
“Oklahoma has been in the top three for as long as I can remember,” coach Rustam Sharipov said. “But again, we are not thinking about those kinds of things in preparing to compete against them. Yeah they’re ranked No. 1, but our main goal is to treat it as another competition and we’re actually really excited to be on the same floor with a top-ranked team. We know them very well, what they’re capable of doing… For us, it’s another opportunity to see where we stand against the top teams like Oklahoma.”
Aside from its No. 1 all-around ranking, Oklahoma is also ranked No. 1 in still rings (72.392), vault (73.308), parallel bars (71.358) and the high bar (71.375).
During its last meet against Stanford, Oklahoma posted a score of 72.550 on floor, beating its previous season-high score by more than a point. Senior Allan Bower of Oklahoma led the way with a 14.850, sophomore Levi Anderson scored 14.500, senior Thao Hoang posted a 14.450, junior Hunter Justus notched a 14.400 and freshman Tanner Justus scored a 14.350.
The Buckeyes enter Oklahoma with a victory from the Arnold Challenge, where they captured three event titles. Junior Seth Delbridge and redshirt junior Jake Dastrup both posted season-best scores on vault (14.800) and parallel bars (14.800), respectively. Redshirt senior Jake Martin posted a score of 14.800 on the high bar.
The Buckeyes have had a successful season so far, but now the focus is on closing out the season with that same success and preparing for the Big Ten and NCAA championships.
“Our team’s on track. We’re progressing every week. We have confidence in each other and confidence in the progress we’ve made so far and that we’ll continue to make,” senior Andrew Rickly said. “It’ll be our biggest test this season so far. I mean there’s no denying that Oklahoma is an amazing team, but we have confidence in our team and just because they haven’t been beaten, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen yet.”
The Buckeyes and the Sooners are set to compete at 8 p.m. in Norman.