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Buckeyes enter meet ranked third in conference standings

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 5 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team will play host to the 2010 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes last welcomed its conference rivals to Columbus for the Big Ten championships in 2003.

LIVE ON THE BTN
The Big Ten Network will air the 2010 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships LIVE with Mike Leiderman on the play-by-play, John Roethlisberger as the analyst and Rob Brown on the sidelines. Start time for both nights at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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.

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.

Philip Onorato was recognized as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and placing second on rings and vault at the individual championships. All-American Brandon Wynn also medaled, finishing third on rings.

BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL
Ohio State was tabbed fourth by the Big Ten Conference coaches in a preseason poll last December with Michigan, the 2009 NCAA runner-up, as the preseason favorite to win the league title. Illinois and Minnesota were selected to place second and third, respectively. The Buckeyes and Penn State were voted to tie for fourth while Iowa was sixth.

For Ohio State, junior Brandon Wynn and sophomore Philip Onorato were voted to a 12-member Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch List.

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 fifth-consecutive week the Buckeyes have held the No. 5 ranking with a 351.517 three-score average.

Strong leadership from the upperclassmen has helped Ohio State score four-consecutive team totals above the 350.000 mark with its highest score, a 354.900, coming vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (March 13). The Buckeyes have received career-high marks from seniors Tai Lee and Justin Myers, as well as junior All-American Brandon Wynn.

In 2010, Lee and sophomore Ty Echard have posted program records on high bar (15.3) and pommel horse (15.7), respectively.

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

With a 15.017 three-score average, senior Justin Myers ties for 17th in the nation and 10th in the Big Ten on floor.

On pommel horse, Ohio State has three individuals ranked in the nation’s Top 20 and ranks third in the country as a squad (58.233). After four-consecutive stellar meets, redshirt sophomore and 2009 NCAA runner-up on pommel horse Steven Spencer owns the No. 3 spot with a 15.317 in the event rankings while sophomore All-American Ty Echard is just a step behind, holding seventh (15.033). Sophomore Matt Rayl rounds out the rankings in 14th-place with a 14.483 mean.

After scoring a career-best 16.3 on rings vs. Oklahoma March 13, junior All-American Brandon Wynn distanced himself from the rest of the field, holding first with a 16.017 average – .400 higher than his closest opponent. Senior Tai Lee joins Wynn in the NCAA Top 20 at 16th with a three-score average of 14.783. As a team, Ohio State leads the nation on rings with a 60.217 mean.

Freshman Philip Onorato enters the nation’s Top 20 on vault at No. 13 (15.800) while Wynn ties for 14th with a 15.783 average. Wynn is the lone Buckeye to rank on parallel bars, holding eighth with a 14.733 while Lee ties for eighth on high bar in the NCAA and sixth in the Big Ten with a mean of 14.817.

LAST TIME OUT
Ohio State saw three Buckeyes place first on individual events but eventually fell, 364.450-353.800, to No. 4 Michigan March 20 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Buckeyes have scored above a 350.000 in each of their last four meets, including a season-high 354.900 against Oklahoma March 13 in Columbus.

Sophomore Ty Echard had a night, scoring a career- and program-best 15.7 on pommel horse to take first while junior captain Brandon Wynn won rings with a 15.95, his sixth victory this season on the apparatus. Back in action after missing two meets, sophomore Philip Onorato made a big impression, winning vault and tying his personal best with a 16.05.

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 Friday and Saturday before traveling to West Point, N.Y., for the NCAA championships April 15-17.

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 six 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 March 13. 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 seven 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 instance 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, scoring a 15.3. In addition, he has posted three Top 3 finishes on rings, notching a career-best 15.6 , the third-best mark in the NCAA this season, 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 four meets, giving him three first-place finishes.

Spencer’s best score this season is a 15.45 earned against No. 2 Oklahoma March 13. His career best is a 15.475, recorded at the NCAA event finals a year ago.

ON-A-ROLL
Sophomore Philip Onorato, the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is a buttress for the Ohio State vault squad. Competing at five duals this season, the Plano, Texas, native has led the Buckeyes on the event three times and has scored a 15.35 or higher at all five 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 Big Ten rivals Illinois (Jan. 30) and Michigan (March 20). 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 three of the last four Buckeye meets, scoring a career-best 14.1 on floor vs. Penn State (Feb. 27) before hitting a 15.75 for fifth on vault against Oklahoma (March 20).

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 four of the last five 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. The North Reading, Mass., native recorded a season-best 14.6 on the event vs. Oklahoma (March 13) 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 three of the last four meets.