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Jan. 23, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 6 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team welcomes third-ranked Illinois to St. John Arena on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 4 p.m. ET, as part of a co-ed meet with the OSU women’s team, who hosts Iowa.

Ohio State opened its 2015 regular season with a third-place showing at the 45th annual Windy City Invitational at UIC Pavilion in Chicago Jan. 17.

The Buckeyes totaled a final team score of 414.800, finishing behind Illinois (428.100) and Michigan (422.950). Iowa was fourth (414.000), followed by Minnesota (410.350) and host UIC (388.400)

Ohio State won two of six events as a team, posting high scores on its first two rotations, parallel bars (70.750) and high bar (71.400). However, OSU unraveled on pommel horse during the fourth rotation, where the team scored a 62.000 and failed to place an athlete in the Top 15.

The Fighting Illini earned a season-opening win at Windy City with an overall team score of 428.100.

Illinois clinched six titles on the evening as C.J. Maestas (FX, SR, AA), Jordan Valdez (PB, HB) and Bobby Baker (VT) helped the Orange and Blue to the team title. Maestas turned in a 15.150 on the floor to go along with a 15.400 mark on rings. He topped the all-around field with a final score of 87.500. Valdez posted a 14.950 on parallel bars and Baker a 15.050 to win vault.

The Illini have earned three Big Ten weekly awards so far this season, with Maestas  and  Joey Peters earning back-to-back Gymnast of the Week awards and Baker earning Freshman of the Week honors to open the season.

Ohio State dropped to a sixth-place tie with California in the College Gymnastics Association Week Two rankings after a disappointing showing at the Windy City Invitational. The team is ranked in the Top 5 in only one event (high bar, third – 71.400) and ranks in the Top 10 in two additional events (parallel bars, sixth – 70.750 ; vault, eighth – 72.100), as well as all-around score (ninth – 414.800).

Four Buckeyes are currently ranked in the Top 10 in their respective events: Drew Moling (high bar, third – 15.000), Larry Mayer (vault, fourth/tie – 15.000), Sean Melton (parallel bars, fifth/tie – 14.800) and Donald Yeager (high bar, eighth/tie – 14.800).

Four freshmen opened their collegiate careers at the Windy City Invitational last weekend, as Alexander Wilson, Cody Teaney, Meyer Williams and Samuel DeWitt all competed on at least one event for the Buckeyes. Wilson competed in four events for OSU, highlighted by an eighth-place finish on parallel bars 14.250.

No. 3 Ohio State fell to No. 8 Illinois, 428.450-425.450, at Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill., last January.

Two Buckeyes won individual event titles against the Illini. Michael Newburger posted a 16.200 on pommel horse, while Jake Dastrup notched a then career-high 14.850 on parallel bars to claim first place overall.

Ohio State also posted a then season-best 70.500 on floor exercise, led by Danny Steiner, who scored a 14.850 on the event to finish in second place.

Ohio State was named the preseason favorite in the Big Ten Conference in a poll of league coaches.

Two-time defending national champion Michigan was voted second overall. Illinois was ranked third, followed by Penn State and Minnesota. Iowa and Nebraska completed the preseason rankings in sixth and seventh place, respectively.

The Buckeyes travel to Iowa City, Iowa, Feb. 1 for a tri-meet with No. 1 Oklahoma and host and ninth-ranked Iowa. The meet is slated for a 2 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET start at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.