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August 15, 2013

OU gymnasts head to Hartford for national competition

STILLWATER — Gymnastics season is more than four months away for the University of Oklahoma. Despite that, several current, incoming and former Sooners will be busy this weekend competing in the P&G Gymnastics Championships at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

The tournament, which used to be known as the Visa Championships, starts today and will run through Sunday. It features the top gymnasts in the country as they battle for a spot in the World Championships Sept. 30-Oct. 6 in Antwerp, Belgium

The list of Sooners competing is long and includes current teammates Kanji Oyama and Michael Squires. This will be the first U.S. Championship at any level for Squires, who won the NCAA still rings title as a sophomore last season to earn a spot in this weekend’s competition.

Oyama, entering his sophomore year, is competing at his third national championship meet, but his first in the senior division. Oyama earned a berth to this year’s national meet after finishing fourth in the all-around at the National Qualifier meet last month in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“It’s an opportunity for them,” OU coach Mark Williams said. “They may not be on the level where they’ll make the national team, but Mike Squires being the national champion on rings, he is competing for a spot on the World Championship team and if he does a good job there that’s a possibility. For Kanji Oyama it’s a good opportunity for him to stack up with the country’s best in the all-around and see if he can get himself in the realm where he is competing to be on the team in the years to come.”

Squires and Oyama will be joined by past Oklahoma greats Jake Dalton, Steven Legendre and Alex Naddour in the senior competition. All three were part of the Olympic team in London.

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