After a slow start to the 2008 season, the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team steadily improved throughout the year. The squad’s season was highlighted with a third-place finish at the Big Ten championships with a score of 354.35 at Penn State’s Rec Hall April 4. Under Ohio State head coach Miles Avery, the Buckeyes have never finished out of the conference’s Top 3 in 11 seasons, extending the program’s record to 22-consecutive years placing in the top half of the league.
At the conference championships, junior tri-captain Jake Bateman finished second in the all-around, scoring an 87.95 while freshman Brandon Wynn placed sixth with an 85.55. Both gymnasts were tabbed first-team All-Big Ten. Seniors DJ Bucher and Jimmy Wickham were named second-team all-conference selections after finishing as runner-ups on parallel bars (15.1) and vault (16.4), respectively, at the individual event championships April 5. With the honor, Bucher became only the fifth Buckeye in program history to be named to the All-Big Ten squad each of his four years of eligibility. The Mason, Ohio, native also received kudos as Ohio State’s sportsmanship honoree.
Despite its strong showing at the league championships, the Buckeyes found themselves out of contention for the 2008 NCAA team title after placing fourth with a team score of 351.8 at the NCAA qualifier April 17 held at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion. Ohio State had 10 gymnasts qualify to compete as individuals during the team championships April 18, including Bateman who placed sixth in the all-around (87.7), nabbing his first-career All-America accolade.
Senior Jimmy Wickham added two more national laurels to his resume, tying for second on floor with a 15.6 and placing third on vault with a 16.325. He ends his Ohio State career as a four-time All-American. Wickham became only the second Buckeye in program history to be tabbed a three-time All-American on vault at the 2008 championships. In 2006, he placed second on vault while in 2007 he finished third to garner the honor both seasons. Daren Lynch was the first Buckeye to do so, receiving All-America laurels in 1999, 2000 and ’01.
In total, Avery has tutored 18 All-Americans in 11 years of work. The 18 gymnasts have earned a combined 55 national laurels.
The Buckeyes noted season-highs of 60.5 on floor, 57.1 on pommel horse, 59.65 on rings and parallel bars, 63.75 on vault and 58.6 on high bar. The team total high of 356.25 was notched vs. Michigan March 22 on the road. The mark entered in as the second-highest Big Ten road score in 2008.