STANFORD, Calif. With a team total of 351.8, the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team placed fourth at the first of two NCAA qualifying sessions Thursday afternoon in Maples Pavilion on the campus of Stanford University. The fourth-place finish knocks the Buckeyes out of contention for the 2008 national team title. The Top 3 team finishers from the morning session include Oklahoma, who took first with a 357.5, second-place finishers Penn State (357.3) while Michigan finished third with a 354.3.
“We just didn’t have it on pommel horse and high bar tonight and knocked ourselves out of the competition,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “Now the guys focus on earning some individual honors the following two days and we wait for next year.”
Ten Buckeyes will compete Friday at the team finals, as the gymnasts now turn their attention toward earning All-America honors. The team finals start at 10 p.m. EST Friday. Live scoring of the event can be accessed from the Ohio State men’s gymnastics schedule page. Qualifying for the second night of competition were seniors DJ Bucher (parallel bars), David Ortiz (high bar) and Jimmy Wickham (floor and vault). For the junior class, Jake Bateman qualified for the all-around competition after finishing second with an 86.25 while classmates Eddie Hay and Andy Saurber look to continue their quest for national honors on floor and pommel horse, respectively.
Also moving on in the all-around competition is sophomore Tai Lee. He finished the Thursday afternoon qualifying session tied for third with an 84.15. Sophomores Justin Myers and Shachar Tal will also be vying for a position in the individual event finals on high bar and rings, respectively. The tenth Buckeye, freshmanBrandon Wynn has a chance to continue on three events, including vault, parallel bars and high bar.
Ohio State started the afternoon qualifying session off strong with a season-high 60.5 on floor. Wickham, a tri-captain on the 2008 squad, and Hay got things started for the Buckeyes, scoring a pair of 15.4s to tie for fourth on the event and help the squad to its best score on floor this year. The two gymnasts have combined to record the team’s highest marks on floor at seven of the Buckeyes’ eight meets this season. Ohio State received two more strong showings from Bateman, Ohio State’s junior tri-captain, and Myers. Bateman added a season-best 15.1 to tie for 10th while Myers, competing at his first NCAA championships, had a 14.6.
After a bye, the Buckeyes struggled in the third rotation. Continuing in Olympic order, the team competed on pommel horse and scored a season-low 53.6 on the event. For the fifth time this season, Saurber, one of the team’s three pommel horse specialist, turned in the squad’s best mark to place fifth at the NCAA qualifier. The Hamilton, Ohio, native continued his junior campaign with a 14.1 while Michael Bell, a product of Marysville, Ohio, turned in a 13.85 and Bateman had a 13.45. Bucher and classmate Tony Duong tallied 12.25 each to round out the Buckeyes’ effort on pommel horse.
On rings, Ohio State tallied a team total of 58.45. As he did at the Big Ten championships just two weeks earlier, Tal logged the Buckeyes’ highest score on rings. The native of Rehovot, Israel, notched a season-high 15.15 to lead the squad and take ninth. With only four gymnasts competing on rings, all four Ohio State scores counted towards the team total. Following Tal was Wynn with a 14.85, Lee with a 14.4 and Bateman with a 14.05.
Looking to get back in the competition, the Buckeyes notched its second-best mark of the season on vault, a 63.35, with Wickham leading the way with a competition-high 16.4. Ohio State’s leader on vault, the Gulfport, Miss., native turned in the team’s best mark for the seventh time this season and tallied his third-consecutive 16.4. Following the senior was rookie Wynn who tied his season-high with a 15.7 and tied for sixth on the event. The Voorhees, N.J., product has scored a 15.7 on two previous occasions in his freshman campaign. Not far behind in the scoring were Batman with a 15.65 and Ortiz with a 15.6 to finish tied for 10th and 12th, respectively. Lee of Orlando, Fla., notched a season-best 15.4 while classmate Myers had a 15.15.
Avery’s squad combined to score a 58.65 on parallel bars, its third-highest tally of 2008. Bucher, a 2008 Nissen-Emery finalist, championed the Buckeyes’ effort on the event, scoring a 15.0. The Mason, Ohio, native and six-time All-American tied Penn State’s Casey Sandy, the 2008 Big Ten parallel bars champion, for second. Bateman added a 14.7, Wynn a 14.55 and Tal a 14.4.
With an event total of 57.25 on high bar, Ohio State finished the evening with a team total of 351.8, coming in fourth at the NCAA qualifier. Ortiz, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Wynn tied for the team’s highest score with a 14.4 for seventh place while Myers notched a 14.25 to tie Daniel Brule of Nebraska for 13th. With their marks, all three gymnast move on to compete at the Friday night team championships as individuals, looking to advance to the individual finals held Saturday at 10 p.m. EST.
The NCAA championships continue at 10 p.m. EST Friday as the nation’s Top 6 teams will be competing for the team title in Maples Pavilion. In addition, the Top 3 all-around competitors, as well as the Top 3 individuals on all six events not already qualified on a team or in the all-around competition will advance to the finals in pursuit of individual titles.