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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team, ranked seventh in the College Gymnastics Association’s preseason coaches’ poll, kicks off its season as the squad travels to Chicago for the 40th-annual Windy City Invitational. The meet, hosted by UIC, is scheduled to being at 8 p.m. EST Saturday in the Physical and Education Building.

The Buckeyes will face a challenging field, including Big Ten Conference members and preseason ranked No. 4 Michigan, No. 6 Illinois, No. 8 Minnesota and No. 10 Iowa, along with host and 11th-ranked UIC.

THIRTY-ONE YEARS IN THE WINDY CITY
For 31-consecutive seasons, Ohio State has opened its schedule at the Windy City Invitational in Chicago. A year ago, the Scarlet and Gray placed fourth for the second-consecutive year with a score of 337.65, trailing Big Ten opponents Michigan (346.1), Illinois (342.25) and Minnesota (341.4). Three of these teams, including the Buckeyes would go on earn Top 6 finishes at the NCAA team championships in April, including a runner-up finish for the Wolverines.

Iowa took sixth (325.9) during the 2009 Windy City Invite just behind meet host UIC with a 327.7.

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. OSU also secured victories in 1985, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000.

FAST FORWARD: PREVIEWING THE WINDY CITY
The 40th-annual Windy City Invitational will host six of the nation’s ranked men’s gymnastics program, five of which hold Top 10 preseason rankings.

NO. 4 MICHIGAN
Moving up in the preseason coaches’ poll from previous years to No. 4 Michigan begins the season with the highest ranking since 2004. The Wolverines return 2009 Big Ten All-Around champion and Big Ten Gymnast of the Year junior Thomas Kelley, 2009 Big Ten still rings champion fifth-year senior Phillip Goldberg, as well as strong competitors junior Chris Cameron and junior/sophomore Adam Hamers. Leading and coaching the team is 14- year head coach Kurt Golder.

The Wolverines tied for first place at the Big Ten Championships and second at the NCAA Championships in 2009. This season, Michigan will host Ohio State in a dual meet March 30.

NO. 5 ILLINOIS
Under the direction of new head coach Justin Spring, former Illini All-American and 2009 Olympic Bronze Medalist, the fifth-ranked Illini return in 2010 with two junior All-Americans, Daniel Ribiero, the NCAA pommel horse champion and Paul Ruggeri who holds the NCAA title on high bar and parallel bars. The squad returns 14 letter winners, including two All-Americans from the 2009 squad that finished tied for first at the Big Ten championships and sixth at the NCAA championships.

Senior Brian Liscovitz, senior Luke Stannard and junior Daniel Riberio will serve as captains of the 2010 team.

NO. 8 MINNESOTA
The 2009 Golden Gophers return with an eight-man senior class led by Aaron Fortunato and Adam Reichow. Minnesota is backed by six athletes that competed in the NCAA individual events championships.

After finishing fourth at the Big Ten championships and NCAA qualifier, last season, Mike Burns, sixth-year head coach, and the 2010 Golden Gophers look to improve their position in the final standings.  

NO. 10 IOWA
The Hawkeyes, under the reign of head coach Tom Dunn placed sixth at the Big Ten championships a season ago for the second-consecutive year. The squad enters the 2010 season at No. 10 on the preseason coaches’ poll.

NO. 11 UIC
The Flames begin their 37th season under “CJ” Johnson in 2010. The team returns a record four NCAA individual event final qualifiers led by two-time all-around qualifier Andrew Stover. UIC ended last year with a 11-12 overall record, including a first-place finish at the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships. The team welcomes nine newcomers to UIC this year.

SUCCESSFUL SUMMER
Junior Brandon Wynn has had a fair share of victories since last season. Wynn, a 2009 U.S. Senior National team member, had a tremendous showing the VISA championships last August. Wynn finished 16th, including a sixth-place finish on rings and ninth on floor. Wynn traveled to Colorado during September to report for a two-day team training camp in preparation for future competitions. He then participated in his first international competition Nov, 13-15 at the Gymnastics World Cup held in Stuttgart, Germany.

After a competition filled off-season Wynn is in top shape and ready to help lead the Buckeyes this year.

ROOKIE CLASS
The Buckeyes welcomed yet another large freshman class in 2010 with five new faces. The addition of the freshman class now takes the Ohio State team to a 18-man roster. The incoming class comes with many achievements including Regional champions and several Junior Olympics national championship qualifiers. Coming from five different states, including California, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Texas the Buckeyes continue to stretch its roster across the country.

BUCKEYES THIRD IN CGA PRESEASON POLL
After finishing sixth in the 2009 NCAA standings, Ohio State team slid to seventh in the College Gymnastics Association’s (CGA) annual preseason coaches’ poll. For the third-consecutive year, reigning NCAA champion Stanford tops the poll with eight first-place tallies.

Ohio State ranks fourth among the Big Ten squads led by Michigan, Illinois, and Penn State earning fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively. Iowa finishes out the Big Ten rankings with a 10th-place standing. Last season, three conference rivals, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State, advanced to the NCAA’s team championships, including a second-place finish by the Wolverines.

THE SCHEDULE
Ohio State, which welcomes five new faces to the Buckeye program this season, has a tough schedule ahead with four home meets all leading up to hosting the Big Ten Championships in St. John Arena . The Scarlet and Gray open the season on the road at the Windy City Invitational this weekend before coming back Columbus for the home opener against No. 5 Illinois at 1 p.m. Jan. 20.

The Buckeyes spend most of February on the road traveling to Las Vegas to compete at USA Gymnastics’ Winter Cup Challenge Feb. 4-6. The team then travels back out West in a quad meet against UIC, Air Force, and host Nebraska on Feb. 21.  The Buckeyes will return home for a three-meet stretch against Big Ten foe Penn State, No. 2 California and third-ranked Oklahoma in three-consecutive weekends starting Feb. 27. The Buckeyes finish up regular-season action on the road against No. 4 Michigan at 7p.m. March 20.           

UP NEXT
The Buckeyes return home for a dual meet against the Illini Jan. 30 in St. John Arena. The two Big Ten rivals square off at 7 p.m. in Columbus.