By Michael Kinney
Oklahoma has owned the MPSF conference. Heading into Saturday, the top-ranked Sooners had won seven straight conference championships and most had been in a rout.
This year, OU found something a little different as they hosted the MPSF meet. They found a fight on their hands with No. 2 Stanford and for the first time in a while, the Sooners had to dig deep to pull out the win.
The Sooners held off Stanford 420.500-418.550 to win their 18th MPSF crown and extend their winning streak to 116. Cal (394.700) and Air Force took (382.200) third and fourth.
“I think what means more than anything to us was that this was the closest conference we’ve had in our four years here,” OU senior Levin Anderson said. “I think arguably we are one of the more dominant teams we’ve had in the four years we’ve been here. But to end on a high note like that at conference, in the fieldhouse, in front of all the fans that came out, I can not be happier.”
Oklahoma coach Mark Williams, who has been around for the bulk of the conference titles, knows just how tough the competition was Saturday night at McCasland.
“They aren’t getting any easier to continue this streak and continue our record of conference championships,” Williams said. “Even though we had the home court, you still have to come out and perform. I thought the guys were a little bit tight in the beginning. Once we got going, gymnastics is still gymnastics. We rallied and I’m very proud of the effort these guys have made to do what they did today. That was a hard-fought battle.”
On the day, three Sooners won individual conference titles. That includes Yukon native Gage Dyer. The sophomore claimed his first title after posting a 14.650 on the floor exercise. The next closest score belonged to Stanford’s Bailey Perez at 14.500.
Senior Yul Moldauer finished his home career by winning conference titles on pommel horse (14.250), still rings (15.250) and parallel bars (15.150). He also claimed the all-around championship.
Yet, Moldauer’s biggest moment came on the high bar. He was inserted into the rotation after teammate Matt Wenske was injured on the parallel bars.
But Moldauer, who is a member of the U.S. National Team, showed why he is one of the best on the world. On what is maybe his worst event, he scored a 14.200.
Anderson also had his moment to shine in his final meet when he performed a near perfect vault that brought an eruption from the fans and helped settle the Sooners down.
“That was awesome,” Anderson said. “Especially being in the Field House and it being the last time I will compete in here. It was really special to get that reaction from the crowd, especially since I know we needed a big score on vault. That was going to be the event that was going to kind of pull us away. When I saw Tanner hit, that’s what I like to call Sooner magic. I was like ‘Oh, we just got it started, now all I’ve got to do is keep it going’. When I hit the table, I could tell off the direction of the table that if I just stayed in, I’d be good. It turned out the way that it did and I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Oklahoma will now prepare for the NCAA Championships, which they have won the past four years. They will be held April 19-20 in Chicago.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider