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Squad meets Nebraska, UIC and Air Force in Lincoln

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team, ranked sixth in the GymInfo national poll, travels to the University of Nebraska for a showdown against Nebraska, UIC and Air Force at 3 p.m. EST Sunday in the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

This will be the Buckeyes’ first collegiate competition since Jan. 30, after taking time off to participate in the Winter Cup Challenge Feb. 4-6.

PREVIEWING THE QUAD MEET
No. 9 NEBRASKA
Nebraska is 4-3 on the season heading into the matchup this weekend. The Huskers started their 2010 season with two second-place finishes at the Rocky Mountain Open and Minnesota tri-meet  before dropping a dual meet to No. 2 Oklahoma last Saturday. The team notched its season-high team score, a 342.400, at Minnesota Jan. 30.

Nebraska has been led by senior all-arounders John Robinson, a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Week honoree, and Kyle Shanahan this season. In the all-around, Robinson ranks 14th in the NCAA with an 84.775 average.

A former Husker assistant coach, Chuck Chmelka is in his first season as head coach of Nebraska, succeeding long-time program director Francis Allen, who retired after 40 years.

No. 11 UIC
UIC currently owns a 1-9 ledger after falling to Michigan, 339.250-328.850, last Saturday on the road. The Flames are led by senior Andrew Stover. Stover is currently ranked 11th on vault, 15th on parallel bars and 19th in the all-around in the GymInfo rankings.

No. 13 AIR FORCE
In a record breaking season for many individuals, Air Force is 3-4 on the year. Freshman Jamie Okamoto tallied the second highest score on pommel horse in Air Force history (14.050) and junior Nate Mills tied the vault record of 15.850.

The Falcons finished third at both the Rocky Mountain Open Jan. 16 and the Minnesota tri-meet Jan. 30. Kip Simons, a Buckeye from 1991-94 and 1996 U.S. Olympian, is in his fifth year as head coach at Air Force.

IN THE RANKINGS
Ohio State is well represented in the GymInfo national rankings, with eight Buckeyes earning spots in the Top 20 on five of six events.

On pommel horse, sophomore Steven Spencer leads Ohio State with a 14.0 average, ranking seventh in the Big Ten and 11th in the NCAA while senior Michael Bell is tied for 17th with a score of 13.75.

The Buckeyes own the nation’s best average on rings, a 58.65, much in part to Brandon Wynn’s incredible performance on the event this season. With a 15.975 mean, the junior captain holds first in the nation. Also contributing to the team score is sophomore Philip Onorato who ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 15.1.

Four Buckeyes hold Top 6 averages on vault, helping the team to the third-best event average (62.4) in the country. Sophomore Mike Behles owns a team-best 15.9 mean to tie for third. Not far behind him in the standings is Wynn in fifth (15.825) while Onorato and Justin Myers are tied for sixth (15.8).

On parallel bars, senior Shachar Tal is tied for 20th with a 14.1 average while Myers is the team’s sole representative on high bar in 18th with a 14.075. In the all-around, Wynn’s 86.625 average puts him tied for sixth with California’s Bryan Del Castillo. Senior Tai Lee sits in 10th with an 85.95 all-around tally.

BUCKEYES LUCKY IN VEGAS
Making his second-consecutive U.S. Senior National team, junior Brandon Wynn captured the event title on rings at the Winter Cup Challenge on Feb 4-6 with a two-day score of 30.55. He became the first Buckeye since Jimmy Wickham (2005-08) to win an event title at the national event held in Las Vegas.

Also having a nice showing at the USA Gymnastics’ event was sophomore Steven Spencer who finished third on pommel horse with a two-day total of 29.10.

BRANDON WYNN-ER
After a standout sophomore season, Brandon Wynn has picked up where he left off last April. At the 2009 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., Wynn earned his first All-America honor, placing eighth in the all-around with a score of 87.45. The Voorhees, N.J., native earned a Big Ten medal as well last season, finishing third on rings at the conference event finals.

Now as a junior captain, Wynn has notched four meet highs on rings, tying his career high and the OSU program record with a score of 16.1 at the Windy City Invitational (Jan. 16). He also notched a 15.85 vs. Illinois (Jan. 30) and continued on a roll at the Winter Cup Challenge scoring at 15.1 in prelims and a 15.4 in the finals (Feb 4-6). With a 15.975 average, Wynn is the top-ranked gymnast in the NCAA this season.

Wynn first hit a 16.1 on rings last year vs. Michigan (March 21), setting the Ohio State program high and the best tally in the NCAA in 2009.

Also finding success on vault, Wynn holds the second-best average in the Big Ten and fifth-best in the NCAA with a 15.900 mean. At the Winter Cup Challenge, he notched a career-high 16.05.

BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Buckeyes will be hosting the Big Ten Championships on April 2-3 at 7 p.m. in St. John Arena.

Tickets for the 2010 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships are currently on sale. All seating in St. John Arena will be general admission with single-session tickets starting at $8 for adults, $5 for students and youth and $4 for groups of 10 or more. All-session tickets also can be purchased for $14. Group tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, contact Mike Johnson in the group sales office at 614-247-1984.

Tickets can be purchased online at OhioStateBuckeyes.com (click on “For the Fans” along the top bar for links), by calling Ticketmaster (1-800-745-3000) or in person at any Ticketmaster outlet or the Ohio State Ticket Office.

UP NEXT
Ohio State opens a three-meet homestand, starting with a co-ed dual against No. 5 Penn State at 4 p.m. Feb. 27 in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes then host two nonconference foes in No. 18 California (1 p.m. March 6) and No. 2 Oklahoma (4 p.m. March 13).