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No. 6 Ohio State honors its five seniors prior to its 7 p.m. dual vs. No. 5 Michigan

COLUMBUS, Ohio It is another Ohio State-Michigan battle when the universities’ men’s gymnastics programs go head-to-head at 7 p.m. Saturday in St. John Arena. The meet, Ohio State’s home finale, serves as the Buckeyes’ last tune-up before championships season commences in April.

The Buckeyes, ranked sixth in the nation with a 3-6 overall and 1-5 Big Ten record, will recognize the team’s five seniors in Jake Bateman, Kevin Brown, Pejman Ebrahimi, Eddie Hay and Andy Saurber prior to the meet.

Ebrahimi, who is a fifth-year senior after suffering a neck injury a season ago, will walk at graduation at 1 p.m. Sunday in St. John Arena. The other Buckeye seniors are all on track to graduate in the spring, completing their studies in just four years.

FOLLOWING FROM HOME
Live scoring of the Ohio State-Michigan dual will be available on www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Fans can access the live updates on the Ohio State men’s gymnastics schedule pages on www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com. The dual in Columbus will be aired on the Big Ten Network on tape delay at 6 p.m. March 25.   

MEET THE SENIORS
Jake Bateman
, Ohio State’s 2009 Nissen-Emery Award finalist, earned All-America status with a sixth-place finish in the all-around at the NCAA championships in 2008. In addition, he finished second in the all-around at the 2008 Big Ten Championships to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior. A native of Kingsport, Tenn., Bateman, who was named the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is a two-time captain for Ohio State after taking the role on in 2008. Studying biology at Ohio State, the polished athlete also is a leader in the classroom as a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Second Team Academic All-American and First Team All-District selection.

Kevin Brown, a four-year member of the squad, competed on floor and rings at four meets to help the Buckeyes a season ago. The Pepper Pike, Ohio, native is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, as well as an Academic All-Big Ten and CGA Academic All-America honoree.

Pejman Ebrahimi, a 2007 NCAA champion on vault, returned in 2009 after suffering a season ending injury in 2008. A five-year member of the Buckeye squad, the Encino, Calif., native has been a consistent competitor for the squad since he joined the team in 2005 on floor, rings and vault. Ebrahimi was named the team’s 2008 Strength and Conditioning Buckeye Power Club honoree in efforts to return to the competition floor after his neck injury. A four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, two-time Academic All-Big Ten and CGA Academic All-America honoree, the finance and real estate double major graduates Sunday in St. John Arena.

Eddie Hay, who has served as Ohio State’s floor specialist for the last three seasons, nearly earned All-American honors on the event as a freshman in 2006, placing ninth in the NCAA finals. A native of Butler, Pa., Hay won the Big Ten floor title as a sophomore and was a floor finalist at the conference championships a season ago. An allied medicine major, Hay is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, as well as an Academic All-Big Ten and CGA Academic All-America honoree.

Andy Saurber, a four-year member of Ohio State’s pommel horse squad, was an NCAA finalist in 2008 on the event, finishing 10th in the nation as a junior. A native of Fairfield, Ohio, Saurber placed fifth at the Big Ten pommel horse championships. Majoring in allied medicine, Saurber is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, as well as an Academic All-Big Ten and CGA Academic All-America honoree.

OHIO STATE CHART TOPPERS
Ohio State is receiving production across the board with eight gymnasts holding top positions in the NCAA and Big Ten standings.

Senior co-captain Jake Bateman leads the squad with an 87.567 all-around average that ranks him third in the conference and seventh in the NCAA. The Kingsport, Tenn., native also holds the No. 2 spot on rings among conference foes with a 15.183, just behind teammate Brandon Wynn in first with a 15.3 average on the event. Wynn and Bateman are rated second and seventh, respectively, among all NCAA competitors. Bateman also holds the team’s best averages on parallel bars and high bar this season, holding 14.683 and 14.367 means, respectively. He ranks eighth on parallel bars and 15th on high bar in the Big Ten.

Besides holding the conference’s top average on rings, Wynn is fifth in the Big Ten all-around standings with an 85.817 mean after four competitions. His average ranks him 10th in the country.

Senior Eddie Hay champions the squad on floor and sits in the No. 2 spot in the league rankings and eighth in the nation with a 15.283 average. Hay, a native of Butler, Pa., scored a Buckeye season-best 15.35 on floor vs. the Illini in January.

Freshmen standouts Steven Spencer and Ty Echard have carved their spot in the pommel horse lineup. Spencer, a native of Fremont, Calif., hit a career-high 15.4 on the event vs. Oklahoma March 14 and ranks seventh in the Big Ten and ninth in the NCAA with a 14.75 average. Echard, a native of Lancaster, Ohio, jumped onto the leaderboard after tallying a 15.3 on pommel horse vs. UIC Feb. 21 in his Buckeye debut. He currently holds 10th in the league with a 14.45 average on the event.

On rings, the Buckeyes have six gymnasts averaging Top 20 Big Ten marks in including Wynn (15.3, 1st), Bateman (15.183, 2nd), junior Shachar Tal (15.083, 4th), freshman Philip Onorato (14.95, 7th), junior co-captain Tai Lee (14.683, 14th) and senior Pejman Ebrahimi (14.617, 17th).

Vault is another strong event for Ohio State with four student-athletes in the Top 10 of the league. Onorato leads the squad with a 15.733 mean to tie for eighth while Bateman, Ebrahimi and Wynn are tied for 10th with a 15.717 average.

Junior Justin Myers, the team’s two-time most improved honoree, is second on the squad with a 14.2 average and 19th ranking in the conference on high bar. In addition, the Hinckley, Ohio, native owns a 14.817 average on floor and a 14.233 on parallel bars for 19th in the league standings as well.

BUCKEYES IN THE RANKINGS
Ohio State owns two Top 5 event averages in the GymInfo national standings released March 16. The Buckeyes hold the nation’s No. 2 ranking on rings with a 60.55 mean and the No. 4 spot on vault (62.75). Individually, senior Jake Bateman and sophomore Brandon Wynn stand at seventh (87.567) and 10th (85.817) in the all-around rankings. Wynn is ranked second on rings with a 15.3 while Bateman is seventh with a 15.183 average. Eddie Hay holds the No. 8 spot in floor standings with a 15.283 while Steven Spencer ranks ninth on pommel horse with a 14.75 mean.

ALL-TIME VS. MICHIGAN
Ohio State holds the advantage in the all-time series with a 98-76 ledger. Since the 2003 season, the Buckeyes have met the Wolverines for the last meet of the regular season and are 4-2 in those contests.

THE WOLVERINES
Sophomore Chris Cameron has produced for Michigan this season, ranking fourth in the NCAA with an 88.767 average in the all-around. Cameron owns a 15.017 average on pommel horse to rank sixth in the nation, eighth on rings (15.133) and fifth on parallel bars (14.983).

This season, the Wolverines also have received high marks from senior Joe Catrambone, junior co-captain David Chan, sophomore Ben Baldus-Strauss and 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Thomas Kelley.

TICKETS TO THE BIG TEN SHOWDOWN
Tickets for the two-day Big Ten Championships at Crisler Arena, slated for April 3-4, are available for purchase online at MGoBlue.com/tickets, with team and all-around finals taking place Friday and individual-event finals taking place Saturday.

Adult tickets are $7, while senior and student tickets are $4. Tickets can also be purchased at the Michigan Ticket Office, located on 1000 South State Street in Ann Arbor, or by phone (734) 764-0247 or toll free at (866) 296-MTIX (6849).

OH, WHAT A NIGHT!
Ohio State set two team season highs and seven personal highs on its way to a 2009-best team total of 353.15 Saturday night in Norman, Okla. In the all-around, Jake Bateman recorded a season-best 88.1 for third while Brandon Wynn notched a career-high 87.65 to take fourth.

The high scoring night started earlier for Ohio State as the team recorded a season-high 59.7 on floor with Bateman, a senior co-captain, posting a career-best 15.3. Also registering personal bests for Ohio State were Wynn, a sophomore from Voorhees, N.J., with a 14.9 and freshman Philip Onorato with a 14.8. For the second-consecutive meet, redshirt freshman Steven Spencer led the Buckeyes on pommel horse, scoring a career and meet-high 15.4 and helping the squad to a season-high 56.5 event total.

Ohio State showed off on rings, sweeping the Top 3 positions on the event. Wynn and Bateman continued their all-around campaigns, each recording their second-career high of the evening with a 15.5 and 15.4, respectively. With Wynn and Bateman in first and second place, the Buckeyes solidified the 1-2-3 sweep of the event with Onorato of Plano, Texas posting a 15.15 for third. On vault, Bateman registered a team-best and fourth-place 15.85 to tie his personal high.

On parallel bars, the squad noted its third event season high with a 57.95. Junior Shachar Tal led the Buckeyes for the second-consecutive week, scoring a season-best 14.75 to tie for second. Wynn continued to show the benefits of having last weekend vs. California off, scoring season-bests on both parallel bars and high bar, hitting a 2009-best 14.1 and 14.3, respectively.

THE SCHEDULE
Ohio State, which welcomes six new faces to the Buckeye program this season, has a tough schedule ahead with only two home meets in 2009.   

The Scarlet and Gray opened the season on the road, taking fourth at the Windy City Invitational Jan. 17 and remained away with a conference loss to Illinois Jan. 24 in Champaign, Ill. The Buckeyes opened their home schedule vs. UIC with a 350.8-333.05 victory Feb. 21 in their first collegiate competition in four weeks.

Ohio State is now at the end of a three-meet road swing. The Buckeyes dropped a 347.6-346.5 decision to reigning Big Ten champion and then-No. 7 Penn State Feb. 28 in State College, Pa. Ohio State dropped to No. 3 California, 352.7-337.25 March 6 in Berkeley, Calif. The Scarlet and Gray capped their away schedule, scoring a season-high 353.15 last Saturday but fell to No. 2 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. Regular-season action ends Saturday with a home contest against No. 5 Michigan. The dual in Columbus will be aired on the Big Ten Network on tape delay at 6 p.m. March 25.  

UP NEXT
Ohio State has a bye week to prepare for the 2009 Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. The league championships begin at 7 p.m. Friday, April 3 with the team portion of the meet and wrap up with the individual finals at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 4. The Big Ten Network will televise the championships live.