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Buckeyes are joined by Stanford, Illinois as afternoon qualifiers

West Point, N.Y.  – The No. 5 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team qualified for its second-consecutive NCAA championships Thursday afternoon, scoring a 346.800 team total in Christl Arena on the campus of the Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Just as it was last year, it came down to the final event – this time pitting Ohio State vs. Penn State. The Buckeyes just edged the Nittany Lions for the third and final qualifying position, 346.800-345.550, with an event total of 54.85 on pommel horse.

Stanford took first with a 359.00 while top-seeded Illinois finished with a 354.050 for second. The Top 3 from both the afternoon and evening qualifying sessions will face off at 7 p.m. Friday night in Christl Arena.

“You have to get to the second day first and that is what matters today,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “They were judging tough today and I thought the meet felt better than a 346.800.

“Now we have to fight and hope tomorrow because we are just one of six teams in contention for the national championships.”

Starting the competition on rings, the event Ohio State ranks first on in the national rankings, junior captain Brandon Wynn championed the squad for the sixth time this season, recording a meet-best 15.75. Wynn has yet to be defeated on rings this season, taking first on the meet at eight competitions. In all, the Buckeyes tallied an event score of 58.5 with a sixth-place 14.5 from sophomore Mike Behles and a pair of 14.3s from senior Tai Lee and junior Sean Regan.

In the second rotation, the Scarlet and Gray continued to build momentum, scoring a 62.95 on vault, the third best team total on the event this season. Sophomore Philip Onorato, the Big Ten runner-up on vault in 2009 and 2010, posted a team-high 16.0 for third. With a 16.0 at the qualifier, the Plano, Texas, native has tallied a 16.0 or above at five meets this season. All five Buckeyes did well on the event, with Wynn adding a 15.85 for eighth, senior captain Justin Myers contributing a 15.65 and freshman Blaize Monks recording a 15.45 for the team event total.

With a 121.800 after two rotations, Ohio State was in second behind No. 4 Stanford’s 123.650 after competing on vault and parallel bars. Illinois, the No. 1 seed, was third with a 115.650 and Temple was fourth (110.900).

After the Buckeyes hit a bit of a skid on parallel bars, the squad’s upperclassmen got Ohio State back on track on high bar. In the third rotation, Wynn and Lee tied for the team lead on parallel bars, earning a pair of 14.05s to help the squad to a 55.75 event total. Senior Shachar Tal added a 13.85 while Regan contributed a 13.8.

Moving on to high bar, Wynn, Lee and Myers anchored the Ohio State squad and all notched marks above a 14.0 as the Buckeyes recorded a 56.6 on the event. Wynn hit his third team-high of the day with a 14.35 for seventh while seniors Lee and Myers had a 14.25 for ninth and a 14.1 for 12th, respectively.

After four rotations, Avery’s squad had racked-up a team total of 234.150 with floor, a bye rotation and pommel horse remaining. Stanford still held on to the lead with a 243.750 while Illinois, who had observed a bye rotation, had a 174.800. Penn State, who started the meet with a bye, had a 173.400 with parallel bars, high bar and floor remaining.

Ohio State tallied a 57.8 on floor, tying its fourth-best mark on the event this season. Myers, who has been a leader for the squad on floor in 2010, scored a team-high 14.8 for ninth while Lee continued to have a great competition adding a 14.25. Onorato hit the second-best mark for the Buckeyes with a 14.4 while Tal had a 14.35.

In the sixth rotation, the Scarlet and Gray observed a bye with just pommel horse to go and carried a 291.950.

On pommel horse, sophomore Steven Spencer, who was the 2009 NCAA runner-up on the event, led Ohio State with a 14.75 to take second place. Classmate Ty Echard, also an All-American on the event, added a 13.9 for 10th while freshman John Laing made his NCAA championships debut, posting a 13.2 for the team and Lee tacked on a 13.0.

Wynn took first in the all-around with an 86.150 while Lee placed second with an 85.150.

Floor
Blaize Monks – 13.0
Shachar Tal – 14.35
Philip Onorato – 14.4
Tai Lee – 14.25
Brandon Wynn – 13.65
Justin Myers – 14.8
Event Total: 57.8

Pommel Horse
Brandon Wynn – 12.5
Tai Lee – 13.0
Matt Rayl – 11.8
John Laing – 13.2
Steven Spencer -14.75
Ty Echard – 13.9
Event Total: 54.850

Rings
Sean Regan – 14.3
Shachar Tal – 14.15
Tai Lee – 14.3
Brandon Wynn – 15.75
Mike Behles -14.5
Event Total: 58.5

Vault
Blaize Monks – 15.45
Tai lee -15.30
Justin Myers – 15.65
Philip Onorato – 16.0
Brandon Wynn – 15.85
Event Total: 62.95

Parallel Bars
Steven Spencer – 13.15
Sean Regan – 13.8
Shachar Tal – 13.85
Tai Lee – 14.05
Justin Myers – 12.65
Brandon Wynn – 14.05
Event Total: 55.75

High Bar
Ty Echard – 13.3
Blaize Monks – 13.9
Sean Regan – 13.4
Justin Myers – 14.1
Tai Lee – 14.25
Brandon Wynn – 14.35
Event Total: 56.6

Team Total: 346.800