Yul Moldauer competes at the 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Aug. 18, 2018 in Boston.
The University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team has won every competition they have competed in since 2014. The Sooners’ win streak, currently at 116, is the third-longest streak in NCAA history amongst all sports. Within that remarkable streak, they have notched their place in history with four consecutive NCAA national championships. At the National Collegiate Men’s Gymnastics Championships this weekend, Oklahoma looks to win its 13th title and pass Penn State University for the most in NCAA gymnastics history.
“Once you win one, you never want to lose again,” said senior Yul Moldauer of the Sooners’ national championship run.
A 2017 U.S. champion and world medalist for Team USA, Moldauer has a chance to make history himself this weekend becoming the winningest gymnast in NCAA history. At last year’s national championship, he won four individual titles in the all-around, vault, parallel bars and floor exercise.
Moldauer, along with senior teammate Genki Suzuki, spilt their time between Oklahoma and the U.S. Men’s National Team. While they remain on campus during the summer, they often visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for national team camps.
The Sooners’ success at the collegiate level may correlate to head coach Mark Williams’ experience at the international level. Coach Williams has been a part of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team coaching staff five times – starting at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 and continuing at all but one Games through Rio in 2016.
During his tenure, 24 Sooners have competed on the U.S. national team and seven are Olympians. Most recently, 2011 graduate Alex Naddour won bronze at the Rio Games on pommel horse and 2008 graduate Jonathan Horton won silver at the 2008 Games in Beijing on high bar.
“The goal for me is to maximize these guys’ potential and put them in a position where they can compete at the highest level,” Williams said.
With student-athletes competing at USA Gymnastics’ annual Winter Cup Challenge in February, which is mid-season for the collegiate schedule, he adjusts their training for what is best for each athlete.
“Last year Yul didn’t compete for us the weekend before,” Williams explained, adding, “we could’ve used him but he won the Winter Cup so we have to be willing to make those adjustments.”
Chris Brooks, 2009 Oklahoma graduate and a 2016 Olympian, is now an assistant coach for his alma mater, while 2017 graduates and national team members Colin Van Wicklen and Allan Bower remain in Norman, Oklahoma, to train with the Sooners.
“Of course I wanted to win [NCAA] national championships coming here,” said Van Wicklen, “but I really dreamed of being more and knew Oklahoma was the place I had to be.”
“The culture the alumni built at Oklahoma makes it easy for us to carry on the tradition,” Suzuki said. “They come back a lot and we want to make sure we carry on their legacy.”
Suzuki and his teammates could become just the second program to win five straight NCAA championships (University of Nebraska, 1979-1983), but the Sooners try not to think about what’s on the line.
“Every meet starts at 0-0. That’s a mentality Mark preaches. Nothing in the past really matters,” Suzuki said.
“It’s the biggest meet of the year, but it’s also the most fun,” Mouldauer added. “There’s no better feeling than nailing a routine and turning to scream at your bench.”