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April 3, 2006

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SCHEDULE
Thursday, April 6
2 p.m. EST NCAA Qualifier Session I
Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford, William & Mary
Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.

8 p.m. EST NCAA Qualifier

Session II
California, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Temple
Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.

Friday, April 7
8 p.m. EST NCAA Team Championships
Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.

Saturday, April 8
8 p.m. EST NCAA Individual Event Finals Session
Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.

The No. 3-seeded Ohio State men’s gymnastics team primes for the 2006 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships April 6-8 at the Lloyd Noble Center on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. The Buckeyes seek to qualify for their 26th-consecutive NCAA team championship. In its history, Ohio State has claimed three national championships in 1985, 1996 and 2001.

The NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Committee selected the Top 12 teams for the two national qualifying rounds on April 6, based on the average of the team’s Top 3 scores, Ohio State earned a No. 3 seed with a team average of 214.620. Ahead of the Buckeyes are No. 1 Oklahoma (217.680) and No. 2 Stanford (216.775).

All six Big Ten universities gained selection to the NCAA qualifying round. The Top 3 teams from each qualifying session will advance to the finals session April 7-8. In addition, the Top 3 all-around competitors and Top 3 individuals on each event not on one of the qualifying teams will compete in the finals session. The Buckeyes (16-1, 13-0 Big Ten) enter the national championships after claiming their second-consecutive conference title at the 2006 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships with a score of 215.625 March 24 at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. Each year it won a national title, Ohio State placed first in the Big Ten championships.

ROAD TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Tickets for the 2006 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships (April 6-8), hosted by the University of Oklahoma at the Lloyd Noble Center, are available for sale through the OU Athletics Ticket Office and Soonersports.com. Fans can purchase tickets for a single session or a package that includes all four sessions of the championship.

All-session ticket prices for adults and youth are $25 and $20, respectively. Group tickets are also available for all-sessions at $15. A group consists of 10 or more people of any age.

The NCAA Championships kick off April 6, with two qualifying sessions. The first session will begin at 2 p.m. EST and session two will start at 8 p.m. EST. The team finals will be held at 8 p.m. EST on Friday, April 7, and the event finals will begin at 8 p.m. EST Saturday.

CONFERENCE CHAMPS
The Buckeyes (16-1; 13-0 Big Ten) won their second-consecutive conference title with a score of 215.625 at the 2006 Big Ten Championship marking the program’s 11th team title.

Sophomore DJ Bucher (Mason, Ohio/Queen City Gymnastics) paced Ohio State with a 9.100 first-place finish on pommel horse.

In the second rotation, Pedro Pineda (So., Galloway, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics) led the Buckeye squad on rings with a season-high and fifth-place finish of 9.175. Bucher and Jake Bateman (Fr., Kingsport, Tenn./Premier Gymnastics) added a pair of 8.95s to give Ohio State a season-high team score of 35.975.

Ohio State vaulted to second place (106.475) after the team earned a 36.950 as five of six Buckeyes earned scores above 9.000 in the third rotation. Kristopher Kline (Jr., Westerville, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics Center) notched a career-high 9.300 on vault. Bateman added another 9.300 and David Ortiz (So., Cincinnati, Ohio/Queen City Gymnastics) posted a 9.200 to boost the squad. In addition, Jimmy Wickham (So., Gulfport, Miss./Planet Gymnastics) and co-captain Nicholaus Searcy (Jr., Dublin, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics Center) tallied 9.150s.

On parallel bars, Ohio State scored a 35.550. Bucher placed third on the event with a 9.400 to lead Ohio State and Bateman contributed a fourth-place finish (9.050).

After high bar, the Buckeyes moved into first place. Ito won the event title on high bar with 9.500 and Ortiz tied for second with a 9.450. The team’s high bar total of 36.450 earned Ohio State a second-place finish on the apparatus.

The Buckeyes won the final rotation of the championship (37.150) as four of five Buckeyes again scored above a 9.00 on floor. The event win secured the team’s 2006 Big Ten Championship title. Wickham tied for second on the event with a 9.550 and freshman Eddie Hay (Butler, Pa./Butler Gymnastics) posted a 9.300. Bateman tied his career-high on floor (9.250) and Kline tallied his second career-high of the night with a 9.05.

Ohio State was the only team to win two individual event titles during the second night of competition (March 25). Bucher won the pommel horse title and Buckeye co-captain Ito claimed the event win on high bar (9.800) with the highest score of the night. This is the second year in a row the Buckeyes’ finished in the top spot on high bar after Ronald Ferris claimed the program’s first title in 2005.

BIG TEN HONORS
At the closing of the 2006 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships, Jake Bateman (Fr., Kingsport, Tenn./Premier Gymnastics) won the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. Bateman’s honor was the first for an Ohio State gymnast since the 2000 season when former-Buckeye Raj Bhavsar earned the recognition.

“It was great,” Bateman said. “Just to know how many great gymnasts have passed through the Ohio State program it is an honor to receive the award.”

In addition, the two Ohio State event champions, Willie Ito and DJ Bucher, were named to the 2006 Big Ten All-Conference team. Junior co-captain Nicholaus Searcy was honored by his teammates with the Big Ten Sportsman of the Year award for the Ohio State squad.

AVERY SHARES COACH OF THE YEAR
Ohio State head coach Miles Avery shared the 2006 Big Ten Coach of the Year award with Iowa head coach Tom Dunn. This is Avery’s second-consecutive coach of the year award and fourth in his Ohio State career.

Nine years after assuming the head coach position, Avery boasts a 96-25-1 record for the Scarlet and Gray. Under his guidance the Buckeyes have post a Top 3 finish each year at the Big Ten championships. Also Avery’s squads have finished in the Top 3 at the NCAA championships five years of his nine-year tenure.

FIRST-PLACE FINISHES
The 2006 Buckeye squad boast 28 first-place event finishes. Willie Ito and DJ Bucher lead the team with seven finishes each.

First – Place Event Finishes
Event – Number of first-place finishes
Floor – 3
Pommel Horse -4
Rings – 3
Vault – 4
Parallel Bars – 6
High Bar – 8

SETTING THE RECORD
Sophomore Jimmy Wickham entered into the Ohio State individual record book with a 9.700 vault. Wickham’s first-place finish and career-high score earned at the Penn State duel (Feb. 25) replaced teammate David Ortiz’s 9.650 set against Michigan in 2005.

ALL-AMERICANS
Coach Miles Avery has coached 47 All-Americans and seven NCAA individual event and all-around champions since taking the helm in 1998.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
Ohio State gymnasts have earned 23 NCAA individual championships for the university’s program. Former-student athlete and Olympian Blaine Wilson leads the Buckeyes after garnering six national championships in two seasons.

OHIO STATE NCAA HISTORY
The Buckeyes last won the national title in 2001 at home in St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio, with a season-high score of 218.125. Three members of the 2001 squad notched individual event championship titles as well. Jamie Natalie won the all-around, Daren Lynch won on vault and Raj Bhavsar won on parallel bars.

With a 232.150 team score, Ohio State won the 1996 NCAA Championship. Former-Buckeye Blaine Wilson captured the all-around, rings and parallel bars titles. Teammate Drew Durbin earned a national championship title on pommel horse.

In 1985, Ohio State earned the program’s first national championship, accumulating 285.350 points. Noah and Seth Riskin were named co-champions on parallel bars at the event finals.

A LOOK BACK – 2005 NCAA MEN’S GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Then-No. 1 Ohio State scored a 225.450 for second place in the 2005 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships April 8, 2005, at the Holleder Center in West Point, N.Y. Oklahoma won the meet with a total of 225.675 points, while Illinois (223.75) rounded out the Top 3. Ohio State finished in the Top 3 on four events, including first-place finishes on pommel horse (37.225) and high bar (38.850). OSU also concluded the competition second on rings (38.375) and third on floor (37.450).

Then-senior co-captain Randy Monahan tied his career high in the all-around, scoring a 56.550 to earn a personal-best second place. DJ Bucher (Mason, Ohio/Queen City Gym.) led the way for the Buckeyes on parallel bars with a 9.650 tie for third place. On high bar, Ohio State gymnasts round out the Top 4 with then-sophomore Willie Ito (Huntington Beach, Calif./South Coast Gym.) and Monahan tying for first with a score of 9.900. Ito tied his career-high set vs. Illinois-Chicago Jan. 22, and Monahan topped his former career-high of 9.850, set vs. Nebraska (Feb. 18). Then-junior Ronald Ferris scored a 9.850 for fourth.

At the individual event finals (April 9), three Buckeyes earned All-America nods. Ferris became Ohio State’s first national high bar champion with a 9.762, Monahan earned three of seven career All-America honors at the 2005 NCAA championships and Bucher earned his first career honor.

RANKING THE BUCKEYES
Ohio State is nationally ranked in the Top 7 on all six events including a second-place average on vault (36.940). The squad is fourth on floor (36.390), sixth on pommel horse (33.870), seventh on rings (35.650) and third on parallel bars (35.700) and high bar (36.450).

Individually, the Buckeyes note six individual Top 10 marks in the national rankings. On floor, Jimmy Wickham is second in the national averages with a 9.500. Freshman Eddie Hay trails in the sixth spot averaging a 9.415

DJ Bucher is the lone Buckeye to place on pommel horse. Bucher’s average on the apparatus is 9.020 to clinch a second-place finish.

Wickham represents Ohio State on vault holding a fifth-place average of 9.370. The final two Buckeyes, Willie Ito and David Ortiz, earn Top 10 rankings on high bar. Ito reclaimed the top spot on the apparatus averaging a 9.580, a spot he landed six of 10 weeks of competition. Ortiz earns fifth-place posting a 9.350 average.

BIG TEN SQUADS IN THE RANKINGS
Undefeated in conference action, Ohio State tops the league with a team average of 214.620 in the GymInfo National Rankings. Illinois and Penn State round out the Big Ten with team averages of 213.910 and 212.005 for second and third, respectively. On floor, the Buckeyes moved from fourth to second place with a 36.390 after the Big Ten championships. Ohio State remains behind Michigan’s first-place 36.590 average, but moves ahead of Illinois’ third-place 36.020 average. Ohio State holds fourth on pommel horse with a 33.870. Iowa leads with the event with a 34.110, Penn State is second with 34.070 and Illinois holds third with a 33.920. On rings, Penn State leads the league with a team average of 36.935, Illinois averages a 36.020 for second and Michigan holds third place with a 35.830. With a team average of 35.650, the Buckeyes claim fourth on the apparatus.

Ohio State is second in the conference on vault with a team average score of 36.940. Illinois tops the Big Ten with a 36.950 on the event and Iowa holds third (36.760). On parallel bars, Ohio State trails Illinois (36.070) with a team average of 35.700. Minnesota rounds out the Top 3 with an average score of 34.970. Ohio State’s high bar average of 36.450 places it first in the Big Ten. In second place, Illinois averages a 36.200, and Iowa averages a 36.050 for third place.

OHIO STATE GYMNASTS AT THE WINTER CUP CHALLENGE
Five members of the No. 1 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team competed at the Winter Cup Challenge Feb. 2 and Feb. 4 at the Sports Arena Center in Las Vegas. Sophomore DJ Bucher placed highest among the Buckeyes and seventh overall out of 84 gymnasts after the qualifying round. Jake Bateman (21), Jimmy Wickham (68), Willie Ito (71) and Eddie Hay (76).

Wickham earned Ohio State’s only first-place finish on an apparatus scoring a 16.400 on vault. Wickham’s 16.400 was not only the top score on the apparatus during the second qualifying session, but also, beat out the first-place finish score of 16.300 from Session I.

BUCKEYE NAMED TO U.S. NATIONAL TEAM
After outstanding performances on floor and vault Feb. 4, Ohio State’s Jimmy Wickham was named to the U.S. National Team at the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas. Wickham (So., Gulfport, Miss./Planet Gymnastics) was the only Buckeye to earn a spot on the national team after the Winter Cup Challenge. He topped competition on floor with a first-place finish (15.650). Wickham’s score of 15.650 was the highest score awarded on floor during the two-day challenge and .450 higher than the closest competitor.

With a two-day combined total of 32.450, Wickham was the U.S. National Champion on vault and was fourth on floor scoring 29.950.

FRESHMAN OF NOTE
Jake Bateman (Fr., Kingsport, Tenn./Premier Gymnastics) added depth to the Buckeye squad on floor, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar. The freshman began the season earning scores in the 8.000s, but has improved over the year to consistently post scores above 9.000 on the apparatuses. Bateman had a stand-out meet against Big Ten foe Michigan (March 11) when he notched three career highs. At the meet, he posted career highs on floor (9.250), rings (9.400) and high bar (9.150).

Bateman received the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award at the competition of the 2005 championships. His honor marks only the fifth time a Buckeye has received the distinction and the first time since 2000. At the Big Ten championships, Bateman completed his first all-around as a Buckeye with an eighth-place finish (51.100) and qualified for three individual event finals (floor, vault and parallel bars).

2006 CAPTAINS
Juniors Nicholaus Searcy and Willie Ito were named as the Buckeyes 2006 captains during introductions at the Varsity Exhibition (Jan. 7).

Searcy earned the team’s Most Improved Award following efforts during the 2005 season and finished fourth on parallel bars (9.225) at the 2005 Big Ten Individual Event Championships. Ito competed in all 11 Buckeye meets, including the NCAA Championships, and recorded a career high 9.9 on pommel horse and high bar in 2005.