Boomer Sooner, baby! University of Oklahoma fans definitely have a reason to watch the Olympics this year. As I reported last weekend, the fifteen competitors vying for a spot on the USA men's gymnastics team included five current or former Sooners. As of this weekend, all five will be headed to London for the Olympic Games.
Two of the University of Oklahoma gymnasts who competed at the Olympic Trials this past week were selected to be part of the five-man squad that is set to compete in London. Of course, gymnastics is a tough sport, and competitors are always at risk of injury, so each team brings along alternates. Team USA is bringing three alternates, all of whom are also Sooners.
Returning Olympian, Jonathan Horton, fought his way back from an injury sustained late last year to secure his spot on the U.S. team. With the top score on the rings and second place on the parallel bars, Horton came in third all-around. At age 26, he is the old man of the group and the only member of Team USA who has competed at the Olympics before. He won a silver medal on the high bar and a team bronze in Beijing, but is hoping for gold in London.
Jake Dalton may miss the start of the fall semester while he is at the Olympic games, but his professors will probably work with him. Dalton, the reigning NCAA champion, will be a senior at the University of Oklahoma this fall. His floor routine and vault earned him the top spot in both those events at the trials, and put him in a tie for fourth place in the all-around rankings.
Chris Brooks tied with Dalton for fourth place, but missed out on a spot on the five-man roster. The fifth spot was awarded to Sam Mikulak of the University of Michigan, who placed 15th after suffering a badly sprained ankle. Only the top two spots are guaranteed by a competitor's performance at the Olympic trials, though. The selection committee chooses the rest of the team, and even though Brooks turned in a solid performance, it was just not enough. He made alternate for the U.S. team.
Alex Naddour secured an alternate position with the top score on the pommel horse and Steven Legendre rounded out the alternates with strong performances on floor and vault.
The top two spots on the men's gymnastics team were awarded to top all-around finishers, Danell Leyva of Miami and John Orozco from the Bronx. These young men are incredible athletes, and can only benefit from the team spirit of the Sooner squad that will be with them in London. As Horton noted before the trials, University of Oklahoma gymnastics is like family. When a great family sticks together, they can be unstoppable.
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Tavia Fuller Armstrong is an Oklahoma resident and a lifelong fan of the Olympic Games with old photos of commemorative childhood haircuts to prove it.