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Jimmy Wickham and Andy Saurber advance to NCAA event finals

STANFORD, Calif. At the 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships, junior tri-captain Jake Bateman finished sixth with a score of 87.7 to become Ohio State’s first All-American in the all-around since 2005 Friday night in Stanford’s Maples Pavilion. With the honor, Bateman, a product of Kingsport, Tenn., is the first Buckeye to earn All-America honors in the all-around since Randy Monahan finished second in 2005. The All-America nod is the first of his career.

Competing as individuals during the team competition Friday, senior tri-captain Jimmy Wickham and junior Andy Saurber claimed Top 8 finishes, qualifying them for the NCAA individual event finals at 10 p.m. EST Saturday. Wickham advances on floor and vault after scoring a 15.4 and 16.3, respectively, while Saurber moves on to the pommel horse finals after tallying a 14.4. Both will vie for NCAA individual event titles and All-America honors at the final night of competition of the NCAA championships Saturday. Fans can follow from home, accessing live stats from the Ohio State men’s gymnastics schedule page at OhioStateBuckeyes.com. 

The 2008 NCAA team title was won by Oklahoma with a 363.2. Host school and No. 1-seed Stanford finished second with a 362.75 while Illinois rounded out the Top 3 with a 359.75. Coming in fourth was 2008 Big Ten Champion Penn State with a 357.65, California finished fifth (356.15) and Michigan sixth (354.25). Penn State’s Casey Sandy, the 2008 Big Ten all-around winner, captured the NCAA all-around title Friday with a 91.35. The national championships team finals will be televised on tape delay at 4 p.m. April 24 on ESPN2.

“What an intense competition tonight,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “It was good for Jake Bateman to earn All-America honors in the all-around after the year he has had. He battled through injury and really deserves to be up there.”

In the first rotation, junior Andy Saurber represented the Scarlet and Gray, turning in another solid performance on pommel horse. He scored a 14.4 to tie for sixth on the apparatus. The Hamilton, Ohio, native bettered his score from Thursday evening by three tenths, sending him to his first NCAA event finals. Also competing for the Buckeyes in the first rotation was Bateman on vault and sophomore Tai Lee on rings. Bateman scored a 15.6 on vault while Lee tied his season-high on rings with a 14.65. The Orlando, Fla., native’s tally of 14.65 was .25 points more than his score the previous night.

Shachar Tal set a season-high on rings in the second rotation, registering a 15.35 but missed qualifying for the event finals as he tied two other competitors for 13th. Tal had notched a season high on the event with a 15.15 Thursday at the NCAA qualifier and improved upon that Friday but was unable to crack the competition’s Top 8. Bateman and Lee, Ohio State’s all-arounders, continued their evenings on parallel bars and vault, respectively. Bateman scored a 14.35 on parallel bars and Lee had a 15.05 on vault.

As the competition moved into the third rotation, Ohio State had four gymnasts competing on three events. Wickham and freshman Brandon Wynn competed on vault, Bateman moved onto high bar and Lee to parallel bars. Wickham, the Buckeyes’ leader on vault, was the last of the individual competitors on the event. A native of Gulfport, Miss., he scored a 16.3, just .15 points shy of his season high, to finish third and qualify for the event finals for the third-consecutive year. Wynn missed his landing on vault, logging a 14.5 on his first of three events. Bateman notched a 14.3 on high bar in the third rotation and held a running score of 44.25 in the all-around after three events. On parallel bars, Lee had a 13.45.

With a season-best 15.15, Bateman tied for 17th on floor. The mark serves as the junior tri-captain’s second-consecutive season-high on the event after he scored a 15.1 at the NCAA qualifier Thursday afternoon. Senior DJ Bucher, a six-time All-American, competed in his first and only event of the evening in the fourth rotation, tallying a 14.65 on parallel bars. The mark tied him for 20th. On his second event of the night, Wynn, Ohio State’s rookie from Voorhees, N.J., had a 13.2 on parallel bars while Lee logged a 13.3 on high bar.

Sophomore Justin Myers was the first Buckeyes to compete in the fifth rotation. As the second individual competitor on high bar, the Hinckley, Ohio, native had a 12.45 after missing a release on the apparatus. Also on the high bar for Ohio State were senior David Ortiz and Wynn. Ortiz, in his final competition wearing the Scarlet and Gray, scored a 14.4 to finish 22nd at the competition while Wynn notched a 14.25 on the apparatus to tie for 26th. On floor, Lee had a 14.0 which gave him a running total of 70.45 in the all-around after five events.

In the sixth rotation, Wickham and sophomore Eddie Hay competed on floor. In addition, Bateman was on rings while Lee had a bye. The two gymnasts had tied the previous night with a pair of 15.4s at the team qualifier. Wickham secured his place in the NCAA individual event floor lineup with a 15.4 to tie for sixth. While Hay only scored .05 behind his teammate with a 15.35, a six-way tie for sixth knocked him out of contention for All-America honors. On his fifth event, Bateman nabbed a 13.1 on pommel horse.

Bateman and Lee finished up the all-around competition on rings and pommel horse, respectively. Bateman scored a 15.2 on rings to be named an All-American with an 87.7 for sixth in the all-around. On pommel horse, Lee logged a 13.35 to end the evening with an 83.8 in the all-around and placed 10th.

The third and final day of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships begins at 10 p.m. EST Saturday in Maples Pavilion and will feature the crowning of six NCAA title winners. In addition, the Top 6 gymnasts on each event will earn All-America honors as the 2008 men’s gymnastics season comes to a close.