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COLUMBUS, Ohio In its first exhibition of the year, the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team had 16 gymnasts perform at least one routine in front of judges and more than 50 fans at its Scarlet & Gray Intrasquad Friday in St. John Arena.

The active Buckeyes, which included seven freshmen, impressed head coach Miles Avery in their response to the competition-like atmosphere.

“I am very pleased with the guys today,” Avery, 12th-year Buckeye head coach, said. “We are definitely ahead of where we typically are as a squad in our routines at the first exhibition. It certainly shows the opportunity this team has to be a great gymnastics team this season.”

The intrasquad was the first of only four Ohio State meets in Columbus during the 2009 season. The team’s exhibition season will end with the Varsity Exhibition at 2 p.m. Jan. 10 in Steelwood Athletic Training Facility, the team’s practice gym. In regular-season action, the Buckeyes play host to UIC at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in St. John Arena and end the year against Michigan at 7 p.m. in a location to be determined. 

“This was good for us,” Pejman Ebrahimi, fifth-year senior, said. “All the little things that are easy to look past in the practice gym really show when you are on the competition floor. Now we know what we have to work on when we return from winter break.”

True freshmen Alexy Bilozertchev, Ty Echard, Brandt Gomez, Philip Onorato and Matt Rayl all donned the Scarlet and Gray uniforms at the exhibition for the first time with at least one rookie competing on all six events.

“It was an exciting and good day,” Bilozertchev, a native of Hilliard, Ohio, said. “It was definitely different to how I am used to competing because the team aspect really isn’t there at the junior level. Today makes the start of the season seem closer which is exciting.”