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Buckeyes and Wolverines meet at 7 p.m. Saturday for a Big Ten Network dual

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 5 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team closes out the regular season vs. No. 4 Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The conference meet will be televised on a tape-delayed basis at noon March 27 by the Big Ten Network.

OHIO STATE IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State opened the season ranked seventh in the preseason coaches’ poll and has climbed as high as fifth in the 2010 GymInfo national poll. This is the third-consecutive week the Buckeyes have held the No. 5 ranking.

Strong leadership from the upperclassmen has helped Ohio State score three-consecutive team totals above the 350.000 mark with its highest score, a 354.900, coming last week vs. No. 2 Oklahoma. The Buckeyes have received career-high marks from seniors Tai Lee and Justin Myers, as well as junior All-American Brandon Wynn.

BUCKEYES IN THE RANKINGS
Ohio State has nine individuals ranked in the nation’s Top 20, including four Buckeyes on pommel horse.

With a 15.183 three-score average, senior Justin Myers ranks 13th in the nation and eighth in the Big Ten on floor.

On pommel horse, Ohio State has four Buckeyes ranked in the nation’s Top 20 and ranks third in the country as a squad (58.683). After three-consecutive stellar meets, redshirt sophomore and 2009 NCAA runner-up on pommel horse Steven Spencer owns the No. 3 spot in the event rankings while sophomore All-American Ty Echard is just a step behind, holding sixth (15.133). Sophomore Matt Rayl is 14th (14.583) while freshman John Laing breaks into the Top 20 at 17th with a 14.450 average.

After scoring a career-best 16.3 on rings vs. Oklahoma last Saturday, junior All-American Brandon Wynn distanced himself from the rest of the field, holding first with a 16.133 average – more than .450 higher than his closest opponent. Senior Tai Lee is fourth with a three-score average of 15.267 while sophomore Mike Behles cracks into the Top 15 with a 14.95 for 13th. As a team, Ohio State leads the nation on rings with a 60.7 average.

Behles is the lone Buckeye in the nation’s Top 20 on vault, coming in at No. 17 (15.817) while Wynn takes the No. 8 spot on parallel bars with a 14.883 average. On high bar, Lee ranks fourth in the NCAA and third in the Big Ten with a mean of 15.033 and junior Sean Regan makes an appearance in the nation’s Top 20 on the event with a 14.75 for 16th.

LAST TIME OUT
Competing in its final home meet of the regular season, Ohio State hit a season-high 354.900 on senior day but fell to No. 2 Oklahoma (359.250) last Saturday in front of 1,009 fans in St. John Arena.

“We did a good job today,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “This was our best competition of the year and when you face the No. 2 team, you want to put up your best numbers.

“We have been making progress each week and this all leads up to hosting the Big Ten championships in St. John Arena this April. We want to improve from today because that is what is needed to win a title.”

In all, the Buckeyes had four event winners in Steven Spencer on pommel horse (15.45), Brandon Wynn on rings (16.3) and parallel bars (14.95) and Tai Lee on high bar (14.85).

OSU-UM: THE SERIES
The Buckeyes lead the Wolverines, 3-2, in the last five dual meetings and 98-78-0 in the all-time record. However, Ohio State has dropped two-consecutive duals to Michigan.

FLASHBACK: 2009 BIG TEN FINALS
Ohio State extended its streak of Top 3 finishes at the 2009 Big Ten Championships to 22 in a row last April, finishing third for a second-consecutive year with a tally of 349.9 in Crisler Arena. The championship title came down to Michigan’s final routine and resulted in a tie as both the Wolverines and Illinois scored a 357.1 team total.

BUILDING BLOCKS
The 2010 Ohio State team had only good things to build from after an exciting run at the 2009 NCAA Championships which resulted in four All-Americans, including a national runner-up on pommel horse in Steven Spencer, and the Buckeyes’ first trip back to the team finals since 2005.

Now, 13th-year head coach Miles Avery looks for his squad to utilize that experience to again peak at the right time as Ohio State plays host the 2010 Big Ten Championships April 2-3 before traveling to West Point, N.Y., for the NCAA championships April 15-17.

HOSTING BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Tickets for the 2010 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships, hosted by Ohio State at 7 p.m. April 2-3 in St. John Arena, 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 “Shop” along the top bar for links and then click on tickets, single game tickets through Ticketmaster), by calling Ticketmaster (1-800-745-3000) or in person at any Ticketmaster outlet or the Ohio State Ticket Office.

BIG TEN GYMNAST OF THE WEEK
Junior captain Brandon Wynn earned his first career Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honor Monday after notching a program-best 16.3 on rings vs. No. 2 Oklahoma last Saturday in St. John Arena.

The All-American spearheaded the Buckeyes’ 1-2-3 finish on the event vs. the Sooners as the team recorded a season-high event score of 61.05 en route to a season-best 354.900 team total. He also finished third on high bar with a 14.7 and was fifth on vault with a score of 15.75.

His 16.3 is the highest score recorded by a gymnast at the collegiate level in the last two seasons. In fact, Wynn is the only NCAA gymnast to score a 16.0 or higher on the event and has done so four times this season. The second-highest mark hit in college gymnastics in 2010 is a 15.7 from Timothy Gentry at Stanford. 

BRANDON WYNN-ER
After a standout sophomore season, Brandon Wynn has picked up where he left off. 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 won rings at each of the five Buckeye meets in which he has competed in this season. He set the Ohio State program record with a 16.3 while winning rings vs. Oklahoma last Saturday. Wynn opened the year tying his previous career high and the former OSU program record with a score of 16.1 at the Windy City Invitational (Jan. 16). He first hit a 16.1 on rings last year vs. Michigan (March 21, 2009).

Wynn made his second-consecutive U.S. Senior National team in February after capturing the national title on rings at USA Gymnastics’ Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas.

MYERS’ TURN
After receiving the team’s Most Improved honor as both a freshman and sophomore as a walk-on, senior Justin Myers has proven he is no longer the ‘Rook’ on the team. The Hinckley, Ohio, native earned himself not only a role as captain as a senior but also earned himself an athletic scholarship.

His hard work has helped him reach career highs this season. Myers has recorded the team’s best mark on floor this year, winning floor vs. California (March 6) with a score of 15.35. Twice this season, he has scored a personal-best 15.8 on vault to place second vs. Penn State (Feb. 27) and fourth vs. Illinois (Jan. 30) while also hitting a career-high 14.9 to take first on parallel bars against the Nittany Lions.

NO SETBACKS
Despite suffering from an epileptic seizure in January, senior Justin Myers has been a leader for the Ohio State squad on the floor, competing in all six Buckeye meets.

Myers was first diagnosed with epilepsy his freshman year at OSU. Just after making the lineup as a rookie, he had his first epileptic fit a week before the Big Ten championships.

SUPER SENIOR
As a freshman, Tai Lee was a first-team All-Big Ten gymnast. However, the Orlando, Fla., native suffered from lingering injuries the past two seasons, spending most of his sophomore and junior year working on getting his body healthy.

This season, Lee is back and proving it with his scores. The senior has led Ohio State on high bar at five meets, placing first three times. At Nebraska (Feb. 21), Lee tied the Buckeye program record on the event at Nebraska, scoring a 15.3. In addition, he has posted three Top 3 finishes on rings, notching a career-best 15.6 vs. California (March 6).

MAKING IT A HABIT
After finishing second on pommel horse at the 2009 NCAA Championships, Steven Spencer has continued to prove he is one of the nation’s best on the event. This season, the Pleasanton, Calif., native has scored a 15.1 or higher at three meets, giving him three first-place finishes.

Spencer’s best score this season is a 15.45 earned last Saturday against No. 2 Oklahoma. His career best is a 15.475, recorded at the NCAA event finals a year ago.

ONA-ROLL
Sophomore Philip Onorato, the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is a buttress for the Ohio State vault squad. Competing at four duals this season, the Plano, Texas, native has led the Buckeyes on the event twice and has scored a 15.35 or higher at all four meets.

Onorato, who finished second on rings and vault at the conference championships as a freshman, took first on vault with a career-best 16.05 against Illinois (Jan. 30). The 16.05 mark ties junior Brandon Wynn for the team lead on the event.

THE HARDY BOY
After redshirting last season, Elliott Hardy made his Ohio State debut at Nebraska Feb. 21, opening his career with a big 15.05 on vault. Defending his position in the lineup, the Plano, Texas, native has competed at the last four-consecutive Buckeye meets, scoring a career-best 14.1 on floor vs. Penn State (Feb. 27) before hitting a 15.75 for fifth on vault last Saturday against Oklahoma.

THE NEW SPECIALISTS
Sophomore Matt Rayl has carved a spot for himself in the pommel horse lineup at Ohio State. The Carmel, Ind., native has scored above a 14.4 at three of the last four meets, including a career-best 14.7 against Penn State Feb. 27. Rayl has placed second on the event twice and third once this season.

Freshman John Laing has been a consistent competitor for the Buckeyes on pommel horse this season as well. Last Saturday, the North Reading, Mass., native recorded a season-best 14.6 on the event after scoring a 14.45 vs. California March 6. On the cusp of breaking into the Top 3, Laing has finished fourth on pommel horse at the last three-consecutive meets.

BUCKEYE CAPTAINS
Senior Justin Myers and junior Brandon Wynn were named co-captains of the 2010 Ohio State team in January.

Myers, a three-year letterwinner, has increased his role on the squad each season through consistent hard work in the gym. Winner of the team’s most improved honor in 2007 and ’08, Myers has been a mainstay in the Buckeyes’ floor, vault, parallel bars and high bar squads.

Coming off a tremendous summer on the national circuit, Wynn returns for his junior campaign after earning All-America honors in the all-around last April. The Voorhees, N.J., native is a key leader on the competition floor in the all-around and will vie for league and national titles.

THE MACCABIAH GAMES
Last summer, senior Shachar Tal took home a bronze medal on both floor and rings July 15 at the 18th Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Buckeye scored a 14.15 on floor and a 13.95 on rings to finish third on both events.

A BUCKEYE ON THE U.S. SENIOR NATIONAL TEAM
Brandon Wynn won the 2010 USA Gymnastics Winter Cup Challenge rings title with a two-day total of 30.55, earning himself a spot on his second-consecutive U.S. Senior National team last February. At the prelims he recorded a 15.15 and added a 15.4 at the finals with both tallies serving as meet highs.

Wynn becomes the first Buckeye to win a USA event title since Jimmy Wickham (2005-08) won the vault title at the Winter Cup Challenge in 2006. Wynn also finished seventh on vault and 17th in the all-around.

BACK ON THE NATIONAL SCENE
After a few years away from USA Gymnastics, redshirt sophomore Steven Spencer finished third on pommel horse, scoring a 14.05 at the finals for a two-day total of 29.10 at the 2010 Winter Cup Challenge. At the prelims, Spencer had scored a 15.05 to sit in third heading into the finals.

A WIN VS. CALIFORNIA
Starting to peak at just the right time, Ohio State downed No. 8 California, 351.800-346.000, March 6 in St. John Arena as six different Buckeyes recorded first-place finishes on five of the six events.

Senior Justin Myers won floor with a career-best 15.35, sophomore Steven Spencer won pommel horse with a 15.4, junior Brandon Wynn took rings with a 16.0, sophomore Mike Behles placed first with a 15.85 on vault while senior Tai Lee and junior Sean Regan tied for first on high bar with matching scores of 14.95.

Overall, Miles Avery, 13th-year Ohio State head coach, saw his Buckeyes place two athletes in the Top 3 of four event standings.

A CONFERENCE VICTORY
Ohio State defeated Penn State, 353.600-347.100, Feb. 27 in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes had three first-place finishes with Ty Echard winning pommel horse (15.55), Brandon Wynn taking rings (16.0) and Justin Myers earning first on parallel bars (14.9). Wynn also led the squad on floor and vault with a 14.4 and 15.55, respectively while Myers and senior Tai Lee tied for the team-high on high bar with a 14.85.

IN THE WINDY CITY
Competing at the 40th annual Windy City Invitational Jan. 16, Ohio State opened the year with a strong performance, finishing third with a 347.15 in its season opener in Chicago.

Fifth-ranked Illinois won the 2010 Windy City title with a team score of 353.75 while No. 4 Michigan took second (351.35). A season ago the Illini and Wolverines tied for first at the Big Ten championships while the Buckeyes took third.

Leading the way for the Buckeyes were all-arounders Brandon Wynn and Tai Lee. Wynn won rings with a 16.1 en route to an 87.6 all-around tally for second place. Lee, a senior from Orlando, Fla., followed in third with a score of 85.95 in his first meet since March 21, 2009.

HIRING A BUCKEYE
Ohio State head coach Miles Avery welcomed Blaine Wilson to the Buckeye coaching staff last July. Wilson, a three-time Olympian, had previously worked with the Buckeyes as a volunteer assistant coach for a combined five seasons, in two different stints, most recently during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

A Columbus native, Wilson helped establish Ohio State as one of the premiere collegiate programs in both the Big Ten and the NCAA, competing from 1994-97. As a coach, Wilson brings a wealth of knowledge and lighthearted demeanor to the gym. The most decorated Buckeye to date, Wilson recorded giant landmarks on each level of competition.

While competing for the Buckeyes, he captured six NCAA individual titles and helped Ohio State to its second of three National Championships in 1996, in addition to three Big Ten crowns (1994, ’96 and ’97).

Owner of 11 Big Ten individual titles, including three all-around crowns, Wilson became the first Buckeye to receive the conference’s rookie of the year distinction in 1994.