COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team, ranked sixth in the College Gymnastics Association’s preseason coaches’ poll, kicks off its regular season at the 41st-annual Windy City Invitational this weekend in Chicago, Ill. The meet, hosted by UIC, is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EST Saturday at the Physical Education Building.
The Buckeyes face a challenging field, including Big Ten Conference members and preseason No. 2 Michigan, the 2010 national champions, No. 4 Illinois, No. 8 Minnesota and No. 10 Iowa, along with host and No. 12 UIC.
THIRTY TWO YEARS IN THE WINDY CITY
For 32-consecutive seasons, Ohio State has opened its schedule at the Windy City Invitational in Chicago. A year ago, the Scarlet and Gray placed third with a 347.15, trailing Big Ten opponents Illinois (353.750) and Michigan (351.350). Both of these teams, including the Buckeyes,would go on to earn Top 6 finishes at the NCAA team championships in April, including a national championship finish for the Wolverines.
Iowa took fourth (339.6) during the 2010 Windy City Invite followed by Minnesota (337.65) and meet host UIC (328.75).
In all, the Buckeyes have captured the invite’s title on 10 occasions. Most recently, Ohio State won in 2006 and had back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004. The Scarlet and Gray also secured victories in 1985, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000.
PREVIEWING THE 2011 WINDY CITY
The 42nd-annual Windy city Invitational will host six of the nation’s ranked men’s gymnastics programs, five of which hold Top 10 preseason rankings.
NO. 2 MICHIGAN
Building off of their 2010 NCAA team title, Michigan is ranked second in the preseason rankings. With the return of 2010 Big Ten and NCAA all-around champion Chris Cameron and a pair of 2010 All-Americans, seniors Thomas Kelley and Ian Makowske, the Wolverines have no worries about experience. The Wolverines welcomed its largest class in program history at the start of the school year with 11 student-athletes joining the 2011 squad. Leading and coaching the team is 15th-year head coach Kurt Golder.
The Wolverines finished second at the 2010 Big Ten Team Championships in Columbus. This season, Michigan will host the Buckeyes March 19 at 7 p.m. to wrap up the regular season.
NO. 4 ILLINOIS
Illinois returns under the leadership of head coach Justin Spring who enters his second season. The senior class, including Daniel Riberio, Paul Ruggeri and Chad Wiest bring a wealth of experience to the team, combining for 10 NCAA and Big Ten individual titles and 11 All-America honors. The Illinois lineup includes six newcomers who will look to make an impact on the squad.
The junior class, which is led by 2010 All-Americans Tyler Mizoguchi and Anthony Sacramento and reigning Big Ten Parallel Bars Champion C.J. Padera, will work to continue its momentum from last season and make significant contributions on nearly every event in 2011.
NO. 8 MINNESOTA
Led by head coach Mike Burns, Minnesota returns a squad full of quality talent, welcoming eight newcomers to the quad this year. A few top scores for returning athletes from last season’s meet at Chicago include Adam LaFleur’s score of 15.3 on the vault, Travis Heaver’s score of 14.45 on the rings, Harris Coleman’s score of 14.25 on the floor exercise and Michael Hillin’s score of 14.0 on both the parallel bars and the rings.
NO. 10 IOWA
Under the leadership of new head coach JD Reive, the Hawkeyes bring in six freshmen for the 2011 season. Freshmen Lance Alberhasky and Javier Balboa were named to the 2011 Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch List. Senior Mike Jiang, a 2010 All-American, placed seventh at the NCAA championships on pommel horse and will look to lead a squad that includes three seniors.
NO. 12 UIC
The Flames are guided by new head coach Charley Nelson after served as an assistant coach to the program for over a decade. The 2011 squad features a solid mix of veteran leadership and hungry newcomers. UIC loses several NCAA-experienced veterans, but return David Ishida, who advanced to the parallel bars finals as a freshman, and fellow sophomore Kyle Voissem, the 2010 ECAC Rookie of the Year.
The Buckeyes will compete against UIC again this season as the Flames hosts their final regular-season meet of the year, along with welcoming Air Force and Temple at 2 p.m. ET March 6.
The Buckeyes are now led by interim co-head coaches Doug Stibel and Blaine Wilson after both serving as assistant coaches for the program last season.
Stibel, in his tenth season overall at Ohio State, has helped coach the Buckeyes to four Big Ten championships crowns (2002, ’05, ’06 and ’07). For his work in the 2007 season, Stibel garnered his first-career Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year accolade. A four-year letterwinner for the Buckeyes (1996-99), Stibel was a member of the 1996 NCAA champion team.
Wilson, an assistant coach on the Buckeye staff since 2009, has brought a wealth of knowledge to the gym after competing in three Olympics as a member of the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics National Team (Atlanta, 1996; Sydney, 2000; Athens, 2004). The most decorated Buckeye in program history, Wilson competed from 1994-97 for the Buckeyes and helped guided the squad to its second national title in 1996.
Dick Huntwork, a 2002 All-American and member of the Ohio State squad from 2000-03, joins the men’s gymnastics coaching staff as an assistant coach. Huntwork, a native of Pickerington, Ohio, helped lead the Buckeyes to their third NCAA national championship in 2001.
A SUMMER TO REMEMBER
Senior Brandon Wynn returns to the Buckeye program after a successful summer not only in national competitions, but on the world stage. Wynn, the 2010 NCAA and Big Ten champion on rings, won the U.S. national rings title at the 2010 VISA Championships Aug. 14 in Hartford, Conn. With a two-day total of 32.25, the native of Voorhees, N.J., became the first Buckeye to take the rings title since two-time Olympian Raj Bhavsar won the event at the 2004 championships.
With his third-place finish in the all-around with a career-high 90.0 in the finals at the U.S. national championships, Wynn was named to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the second-consecutive year and earned a spot on his first U.S. World Team. The Buckeye traveled to the 2010 World Artistic Championships Oct. 17-24 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Wynn competed on five events in the qualification rounds, including floor exercise, still rings, vault parallel bars and horizontal bars. He competed on rings and floor for the Americans in the finals, posting a team-high 15.533 on rings and second-best U.S. score on floor exercise with 14.3. The U.S. national team finished fourth at the world championships.
Ohio State added another large rookie class this offseason with 10 newcomers to the program, including seven freshmen, a junior transfer and two walk-ons. The new class expands the roster to 23, one of the largest in recent years. Joining the Buckeyes are freshmen Matthew Barr (Dublin, Ohio), Kris Done (Auckland, New Zealand), Brandän Jones (Owings Mills, Md.), Misha Koudinov (Auckland, New Zealand), Nick Tagliaferro (Sewell, N.J.), Jeff Treleaven (Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Mario West (Severn, Md.) junior Joel Uptmor (Lebanon, Ohio), junior Mike Carney (Norwalk, Conn.) and senior CJ Weir (Oradell, N.J.).
Ohio State is ready to travel this season as the schedule takes the team on six road trips before heading to Champaign, Ill., for the Big Ten Championships April 1-2. Highlighting the Buckeyes 2011 campaign will be serving of hosts to the 2011 NCAA Championships April 14-16 in St. John Arena.
Following the Windy City Invitational, Ohio State heads west to face No. 3 Oklahoma Jan. 22. The team begins the second month of the regular season in Las Vegas, Nev., for the Winter Cup Challenge Feb. 3-5. Ohio State has its home opener vs. Brockport Feb. 12. On the road again for two-consecutive weekends, the Buckeyes travel to University Park, Pa., Feb. 26 to take on the Nittany Lions before a quad-meet at UIC March 6. Ohio State will have its Senior Day March 12, hosting Illinois and Nebraska and concludes the regular season on the road in Ann Arbor, Mich. against rival Michigan at 7 p.m. March 19.
BUCKEYES RANK THIRD IN BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL
Ohio State placed third in the 2011 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Preseason Poll, the conference announced Dec. 15. Senior co-captain Brandon Wynn and senior Sean Regan were named to the 2011 Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list. Michigan earned the top spot followed by Illinois, while Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa round out the league’s preseason standings.
3. Ohio State
4. Penn State
WYNN, HARDY NAMED 2011 CAPTAINS
Senior Brandon Wynn and sophomore Elliott Hardy were named co-captains from the 2011 season, interim co-head coaches Doug Stibel and Blaine Wilson announced.
Wynn, the 2010 NCAA and Big Ten rings champion, had a summer to remember after being named to his second U.S. national team after claiming the U.S. national rings title at the 2010 VISA Championships Aug. 14 in Hartford, Conn. Wynn, who also finished third overall in the all-around competition, also earned a spot on the U.S. World Team, competing at the 2010 World Championships this past fall in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This is the second time Wynn has been named co-captain in his Buckeye career.
Hardy, a native of Plano, Texas, competed in four regular-season meets for the Buckeyes last season after redshirting in 2009. Highlighting his first season of competition was on vault after posting a team-best 15.75 vs. Oklahoma March 13 in Columbus. Hardy, who was a member of the U.S. National Development team, also competed on floor exercise for the Scarlet and Gray last year.
The Buckeyes next travel to Norman, Okla., for a dual meet against the Sooners at 8 p.m. ET Jan. 22.