OU gymnastics coaches

OU gymnastic coaches, KJ Kindler (left) and Mark Williams, together in Tulsa in 2016, lead the No. 1-ranked teams into the NCAA Championships starting Friday. Tulsa World file

The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s and women’s gymnastics teams begin NCAA Championships competition Friday, the four-time defending champion men in Champaign, Illinois, and the 2018 national runner-up women in Fort Worth, Texas.

The OU men (19-0) will take on No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Penn State, No. 8 Iowa, No. 9 Ohio State and No. 12 Army in pre-qualifying Friday morning. The second preliminary round on Friday night determines the team finalists Saturday evening, with the top three teams from the two brackets advancing.

OU has the top qualifying average (421.163 points) and holds the No. 1 spots in still rings (70.925), vault (73.150) and high bar (69.950). OU is in the top three in the three other events (floor exercise, parallel bars and pommel horse).

The Sooners not only are looking for their fifth consecutive championship but their 13th overall. OU has won every meet in which it has competed since placing second in the 2014 NCAA finals — an NCAA-record 116 consecutive victories.

The Sooners are led by senior Yul Moldauer, the reigning NCAA all-around champion and a seven-time individual champion.

The OU women, who have won three national titles and enter the meet as the No. 1 seed for the fifth consecutive year, will compete in Semifinal II on Friday evening against No. 5 Denver, No. 8 Georgia and No. 15 Oregon State. The top two teams from the two semifinals advance to the NCAA Four on the Floor on Saturday night.

Individual champions will be crowned Friday, combining the scores from the two semifinal sessions.

OU dominated the regional, posting the highest regional score (198.475 points). Senior Brenna Dowell was the all-around champion with a 39.550. Senior Nicole Lehrmann and junior Maggie Nichols claimed the top spot on vault (9.95), and Nichols also won on bars (9.975). Sophomore Carly Woodard won on beam (9.925) and freshman Olivia Trautman won on floor (9.975).