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OU men's gymnastics: Levi Anderson fights through adversity to become Sooners leader

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Oklahoma's Levi Anderson competes on the high bar during the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference championship gymnastic meet inside McCasland Field House in Norman on April 6. [Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma's Levi Anderson competes on the high bar during the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference championship gymnastic meet inside McCasland Field House in Norman on April 6. [Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman]

NORMAN—Yul Moldauer is the face of the top-ranked Oklahoma’s men’s gymnastics program.

That’s easy. Moldauer is set to become the most decorated collegiate gymnast in the sport’s history this weekend at the NCAA Championships in Champaign, Illinois as Oklahoma pursues a fifth consecutive team title.

But ask Moldauer and Sooners coach Mark Williams about the heart of the team, and they’ll rave about Levi Anderson.

“He’s really taken on that role of being the team captain this year,” Moldauer said. “More than I have, more than Genki (Suzuki) probably. Levi’s the one speaking the loudest in the gym.

“He makes me and Genki’s jobs easier. The amount that he’s grown is just incredible.”

Anderson said the lessons he learned as a sophomore have stuck with him to this point and helped him thrive as a leader.

That season, Anderson won the high bar competition at the conference meet but didn’t compete at nationals due to disciplinary reasons.

“Not proud of it by any means but it’s what happened,” Anderson said. “I honestly look back on it and part of me’s glad that it went down the way it did because it forced me to learn. It forced me to grow up. It forced me to realize that every action you have has a consequence.”

Instead, he watched nationals that season with Natalie Wolf, teammate Hunter Justus’ girlfriend, cheering at the screen the way he would’ve done had he been in West Point, New York instead of hundreds of miles away.

Anderson helped the Sooners win a national title a year ago with solid showing in the high bar, floor exercise and pommel horse.

This season, Anderson is coming off a conference title in the vault, he won the high bar at five of Oklahoma’s nine regular-season event and tied for the title in another and won bronze in the Winter Cup in two events—high bar and vault.

When Anderson and Moldauer first spent time together—at the Winter Cup in Las Vegas before their arrival in Norman—they quickly bonded.

They spent more than four hours playing a slot machine-style game for kids that was near the competition hall.

“Right from there you would have thought that we were friends for probably 10 or 12 years just by the way we were hanging out, our mannerisms, things like that,” Anderson said. “Then coming into our freshman year, it was just a continuation of that.”

Anderson and Moldauer have remained roommates for all four years.

“Levi can be my best friend, he can by my brother and he can also be like a father to me,” Anderson said. “He’s always been there for me.”

NCAA MEN’S GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

When: 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: State Farm Center, Champaign, Illinois

Streaming/television: Friday’s session will be streamed at NCAA.com. Saturday’s finals will be televised on Big Ten Network.

Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›

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