Junior Jake Dalton's quest to become the University of Oklahoma's second gymnast to compete in the Olympics while still attending school got off to a solid start on Thursday. The 2012 NCAA all-around champion and 11-time All-American posted the top scores on the floor exercise and vault during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, while posting the fifth best mark in the all-around.
The final day of the trials is set for Saturday at 3 p.m. CT and will be televised live on NBC and carried live online at NBCOlympics.com.
In addition to recording the Thursday's top scores on floor (47.600) and vault (48.500), Dalton also finished fifth on the parallel bars, sixth on the still rings and seventh on both the high bar and pommel horse.
Earlier this month, Dalton won national titles at the Visa USA Championships on vault and floor for the second year in a row. The current all-around standings reflect scores from the two days of competition at the 2012 Visa Championships and the first day of competition at the Olympic Trials. The U.S. Olympic Trials champion will be determined with a four-day total score.
"Jake had a really good day," said OU Head Coach Mark Williams on Thursday's competition. "I was very pleased with his performance, especially when you combine today's outing with the Visa Championships. He's completed 18 routines and hit all 18 of them. You can't ask for anything more out of him."
Dalton was one of five Sooners representing the program on Thursday as letter winners Chris Brooks (2006-2009), 2008 Olympian Jonathan Horton (2005-2008), Steven Legendre (2008-2011) and Alex Naddour (2010-2011) also competed amongst the 15 gymnasts looking to represent the United State in the 2012 Olympic Games, which start next month in London.
Each of the five Sooners have been coached by Williams. Four of the six events on Thursday were led by gymnasts from the University of Oklahoma.
"It was a special event for us to have all five Sooners cheering each other on," added Williams. "I am not sure that has happened before, to have a collegiate program represented at a national or international event like this. It's just like the good old days and I am proud of them. It is a pretty amazing accomplishment and we are looking forward to Saturday."
Horton led all competitors on the still rings with a 46.350 and was fourth in the all-around with a 271.350.
Horton was the Sooners' highest scorer in the all-around behind Danell Leyva (276.500), while Chris Brooks was one slot behind Dalton in sixth place at 267.650. Brooks was also fifth on the rings with a 45.100 score.
Legendre, who served as a student coach under Williams after completing his last year of eligibility in 2011, was ninth in the all-around but that included the day's second-best score on floor (47.000) and third-best tally on vault (48.150).
"I was really happy for Steve by putting up some big numbers on vault and floor," said Williams.
Naddour rounded things off and posted the evening's top score on the pommel horse (45.500).
All five Sooners are current members of the U.S. National Team and advanced to the U.S. Olympic Trials after their performances at the 2012 Visa Championships earlier this month. The U.S. representatives in London will be determined by the Trials, subject to the approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee's board of directors.
Oklahoma has produced three Olympians in men's gymnastics and has been represented in the past two Summer Olympic Games by Guard Young in 2004 and Horton in 2008, both under current head coach Mark Williams.