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Numbers favor the Sooners

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JANUARY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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With Sunday’s bout against No.1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Ohio State looming, Iowa men’s gymnastics faces the challenge of preparing for two of the top programs in the country.

Across the board, Oklahoma has been leaps and bounds better than Iowa and Ohio State this season.

The Sooners have averaged 17.80 more points than Ohio State and 19.75 more than the Hawkeyes, scoring more than 440.00 in both its meets to date.

In all six events this year, the Sooners averaged more than 70 points, compared to five with Ohio State and just three for Iowa.

For the Hawkeyes to have success, their best and worst events may be the most crucial.

The best: Still Rings

The still rings may well be Iowa’s strongest event. The Hawkeyes have averaged 72.000 points through two meets, compared with 70.150 for Ohio State.

Oklahoma, however, has been phenomenal on the event — averaging 75.850 through the first two meets. Their top performer, senior specialist Michael Squires, has been nothing short of sensational.

Squires has scored more than 16.000 in both of his routines. To put that into perspective, no one else from any team in the country has breached the 16-point mark even once — in any event.

That puts Squires more than a point ahead of Iowa’s top dog, junior Jack Boyle, who averages 15.000 on the rings. And the rest of Oklahoma’s lineup for the event is no joke. Sophomore Thao Hoang averages 15.175 and junior Kanji Oyama 14.975.

Of the teams’ top nine scorers on the rings thus far, seven of them compete for Oklahoma, two for the Hawkeyes, and none for Ohio State.

The worst: Pommel Horse

On the other end, the pommel horse has remained a liability for the Hawkeyes. At 67.875 points per meet, it stands as the worst of six events.

Oklahoma averages 72.150 on the event, led by senior Michael Reid and sophomore Allan Bower. The good news for Iowa is that senior Doug Sullivan’s 14.925 tops anyone in Oklahoma’s lineup. The bad news is the dropoff from Sullivan. Oklahoma has five guys averaging better than Iowa’s next best, freshman Austin Hodges at 13.475.

No one on Ohio State has stood out on the pommel horse, and Logan Melander leads it with an average of just 13.500. The team has averaged a measly 66.275 in its worst event.

Beating the Buckeyes

Ohio State has scored just under 4 more points on the season than the Hawkeyes. At the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 17, it finished just .08 of a point ahead of Iowa to take third place.

Both teams saw their point totals jump drastically in their second meets, but the Buckeyes have been slightly better in the early part of the season.

Aside from the pommel horse and still rings, the Buckeyes own an advantage in every event. They are best on the vault with an average of 72.625, compared with Iowa’s 72.300. And although that is the highest average on any event for the Hawkeyes, it has in recent seasons been a weak point, so it is not unfathomable that it could be in this meet as well.

Vault specialist and senior Larry Mayer averages 15.125 on the vault this season for Ohio State, the best of the three teams in the meet.

Senior Drew Moling and sophomore Sean Melton give Ohio State an edge on the high bar and parallel bars and also provide it a real shot to upend the Hawkeyes on the still rings.

Across the board, Oklahoma is a better team than both of its upcoming Big Ten foes. For Iowa, the meet might come down to whether it can get a win over a more evenly matched Buckeye squad.

Follow @CharlsGreen on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s gymnastics team.


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