April 21, 1999
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team is prepared to challenge for the national championship which begins Thursday in Lincoln, Neb. At a pre-Championship press conference today, Buckeye head coach Miles Avery was optimistic about his team’s chances to claim its second national title of the 90s.
“We have been building all season to reach this point,” he said. “Everything has fallen into place and now we are happy to have this opportunity. There is such parity in the men’s gymnastics teams competing at this Championship. The best team will win, and, with everything being so close, the competition will be extremely tight. We are very excited to be here.”
When asked about the level of competition gathered at the Championship, Avery said, “All the teams competing here are really peaking at the right time. On paper, the teams from the east look better, but this is where all the best teams in the nation come to determine who really is the best.”
Regarding the all-around competition, which figures to be even more hotly contested now that defending champion Travis Romagnoli from Illinois is out due to a broken wrist, Avery offered, “The intensity from the team competition will definitely carry over to the all-around. There is a core of all-arounders that will make it very close: Todd Strada from Iowa, Jason Hadabura from Nebraska and Ohio States Jamie Natalie, Tim Elsner and Doug Stibel.”
“This will be the closest national championship I’ve been involved in,” Avery concluded. “Reaching this point was so difficult that even two very talented teams (Iowa and Illinois) are not here. As coaches, we need to work on tweaking the system to ensure that the best teams receive that opportunity. In the meantime, we will compete to the best of our ability and have set our sights on bringing home the national title.”
Senior co-captain Peter Landry (Sr., Lewiston, Maine), who is one of eight finalists for the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award, which will be announced tonight, predicted that the grueling course of the competition should not be too much of a challenge for the Buckeyes. “We have trained hard to reach this point, being sure not to take too many days off,” he said. “The, hopefully, three days that we will be competing should find us well rested and ready. We have prepared mentally and physically for this competition. We have been training for this moment all year.” When asked about his feelings heading into tonight’s announcement of the Nissen-Emery Award recipient, Landry answered, “If I win, that will be an additional honor. Right now, my sole concentration is on winning the team championship. Our mission is to win the National Championship. I dont want anything to get in the way of that goal.”
Team competition begins Thurs. at 7 p.m. The top three teams advance to the finals on Fri. Individual event finals are slated for Sat.