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SCHEDULE
Thursday, April 17
4 p.m. EST NCAA Qualifier Session I
Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, William & Mary
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.

10 p.m. EST NCAA Qualifier Session II
California, Stanford, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Temple
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.

Friday, April 18
10 p.m. EST NCAA Team Championships
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.

Saturday, April 19
10 p.m. EST NCAA Individual Event Finals

Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.

COLUMBUS, Ohio Propelled by a third-place finish at the Big Ten championships April 4, the seventh-seeded Ohio State men’s gymnastics team looks to turn in a strong showing at the 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships Thursday-Saturday in Stanford, Calif. The Buckeyes (7-10 overall; 5-7 Big Ten) enter the competition after turning in a solid performance at their conference championships which featured four teams who finished in the nation’s Super Six a season ago, including defending national champion Penn State.

Ohio State competes in the first of two NCAA qualifying sessions starting on floor at 4 p.m. EST Thursday. After competing on floor, the Buckeyes will have a bye in the second rotation before moving on to pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar. The Top 3 teams from each qualifying rounds will move on to the team finals at 10 p.m. EST Friday. In addition, the Top 3 all-around competitors, as well as the Top 3 individuals on all six events not already qualified on a team or in the all-around competition will advance to the finals in pursuit of individual titles.

In 2006 and ’07, the Buckeyes missed qualifying for the team championships. The squad looks to get back on track in 2008 and continue the program’s tradition as one of the nation’s premier teams. Ohio State has claimed NCAA titles in 1985, ’96 and 2001. In 10 seasons, Ohio State head coach Miles Avery has produced one national championship team and four national runner-up squads.

THE FIELD
Ranked seventh for the majority of the 2008 season, the Buckeyes are seeking their first Super Six finish at the national championships in two years. Ohio State holds a 350.79 national qualifying average (NQA) in the GymInfo national rankings to enter the national competition as the No. 7 seed. With less than one point separating the Top 3 squads in the rankings, the 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships is set to be a battle.

Despite finishing second to conference-rival Oklahoma, 359.15-357.2, April 5, NCAA host Stanford holds the nation’s No. 1 seed heading into the championships. The Cardinal hold the NCAA’s top ranking with a 358.93 NQA with the No. 2-seeded Sooners nipping at their heels with a 358.74 average. Looking to defend its 2007 NCAA title is Penn State, the 2008 Big Ten Champions and nation’s third-seeded (358.28) squad.  

All six Big Ten men’s gymnastics programs qualified for the championships with No. 5 Illinois (355.81), No. 6 Michigan (353.47), No. 8 Minnesota (348.59) and No. 9 Iowa (344.15) along with the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions cracking the country’s Top 12. Also qualifying are No. 10 Nebraska with a 342.43 NQA, No. 11 William & Mary (342.15) and No. 13 Temple (340.88). Temple earned its automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Championships after defeating No. 12 UIC, 341.45-340.9, at the ECAC conference championships April 5. 

GETTING THERE – 2008 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS APRIL 17-19
The 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships will feature three days of competition at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif. All-session ticket packages range from $20 to $30 and include four sessions (two sessions at 4 p.m. EST and 10 p.m. EST Thursday and one session at 10 p.m. EST Friday and Saturday). Individual session tickets go on sale Thursday. Groups of 10 or more can purchase individual session tickets for $4 each until April 15. All seats are general admission.

The NCAA championships kick off Thursday, with two qualifying sessions. The first session will begin at 4 p.m. EST and session two will start at 10 p.m. EST. The team finals will be held at 10 p.m. EST Friday and the event finals will begin at 10 p.m. EST Saturday.

OHIO STATE AT THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Buckeyes last won the national title in 2001 in their home venue of 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. Twin bothers Noah and Seth Riskin were named co-champions on parallel bars at the event finals.

ALL-AMERICAN NODS
Head coach Miles Avery has coached 18 All-Americans and eight NCAA individual event and all-around champions since taking the helm in 1998. Last season, Pejman Ebrahimi became the first Buckeye since 2005 to win a national title, tying Stanford’s David Sender on vault.

Since Don Perry first earned All-America status on the trampoline in 1954, Ohio State has had 41 gymnasts collect the honor. DJ Bucher leads the 2008 team with six All-America honors. In 2005, Bucher became the only Buckeye to garner All-America accolades on three events as a freshman on pommel horse, rings and parallel bars. The gymnast added his fourth honor in 2006, finishing seventh on pommel horse while placing fourth on rings and second on parallel bars in 2007.

Jimmy Wickham, a two-time All-American on vault, returns to the event for the Buckeyes in 2008. In 2006 the Gulfport, Miss., native finished second and placed third a season ago.

In Ohio State history, former Buckeyes Mike Racanelli (1987-90) and Blaine Wilson (1994-97) tallied 10 individual honors each in only three seasons.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
Ohio State gymnasts have earned 24 NCAA individual championships. Former-student athlete and OlympianBlaine Wilson leads the Buckeyes after garnering six national championships in two seasons.

2007 NCAA Vault Champion Pejman Ebrahimi was the last Ohio State gymnast to win an individual championship. This season, Ebrahimi was granted a medical redshirt.

AT THE HELM OSU COACHES POCKET NATIONAL HONORS
Last year, Ohio State men’s gymnastics head coach Miles Avery and assistant coach Doug Stibel were named Central Region Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year, respectively, at the 2007 NCAA/CGA banquet at the Mt. Nittany Club in Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa. For Avery, the honor was the third of his 10-year tenure at the helm of the Ohio State program. His first came in 2002 and he also earned the distinction in 2005. Stibel’s recognition is the first of his career.

Under Avery, the 2007 team became the first in OSU program history to capture three-consecutive Big Ten championship titles. The 2007 Big Ten Champions won OSU’s third title in as many years March 30 at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn., with a score of 217.75, topping Penn State by only one-tenth of a point.

Stibel, in his sixth season as assistant coach, earned his first assistant coach of the year honor. A former Buckeye gymnast, Stibel has helped coach Ohio State to four Big Ten championship titles. A four-year letterwinner (1996-99), Stibel was a member of the 1996 NCAA championship team and the ’96 and ’97 Big Ten championship squads.

FLASHBACK 2007 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
As the No. 1-seed, Ohio State fell just short of qualifying for the team finals April 12, 2007, scoring a 215.25 for fourth in Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State University. The fourth-place finish knocked the Buckeyes out of contention for a NCAA team championship title for the second-straight season. The Buckeyes were edged out of the Top 3 by conference rival Michigan, 215.35-215.25.

The 2007 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships came to a close April 14 with the crowning of the individual event champions, including Buckeye Pejman Ebrahimi’s first career national vault title. Of five qualified Buckeyes, Ohio State had four gymnasts combine to earn five All-America laurels with the Top 8 athletes on each apparatus receiving the national recognition.

DJ Bucher finished fourth on rings and second on parallel bars, Ebrahimi and classmate Jimmy Wickham finished first and third, respectively while then-senior Willie Ito finished in seventh place on parallel bars to be tabbed All-Americans.

REWIND 2008 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
With a score of 354.35, the seventh-ranked Ohio State men’s gymnastics program finished third April 4 at the 2008 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships in Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State University. Host school and defending national champion Penn State took the league’s crown with a 360.45 while Illinois placed second with a 357.3. Competition was tight as only one point separated first from third place heading into the championships’ final rotation.

Under Ohio State head coach Miles Avery, the Buckeyes have never finished out of the conference’s Top 3 in 11 seasons, extending the program’s record to 22-straight years placing in the top half of the league.

Junior Jake Bateman, a native of Kingsport, Tenn., capture second in the all-around with an 87.95 while freshman Brandon Wynn placed sixth (85.55). The nation’s top-ranked all-arounder Casey Sandy of Penn State won the title with a 91.5.

ALL-BIG TEN HONORS
Ohio State concluded the 2008 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships with four gymnasts earning All-Big Ten status April 5 in Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State University. Buckeye all-arounders Jake Bateman and Brandon Wynn were tabbed first-team All-Big Ten selections. Jimmy Wickham and DJ Bucher were named to the second team after securing second-place finishes on vault and parallel bars, respectively. With the honor, Bucher became only the fifth Buckeye in program history to be named to the All-Big Ten squad each of his four years of eligibility. The Mason, Ohio, native also received kudos as Ohio State’s sportsmanship honoree.

THE CANDIDATE
DJ Bucher was tabbed a 2008 Nissen-Emery Award finalist March 12 by the College Gymnastics Association (CGA). A six-time All-American, Bucher has been a standout for the program since his rookie season when he collected All-America honors on three events, the most by a freshman in Buckeye history.

The Mason, Ohio, native captured the 2005 and ’07 Big Ten parallel bars titles and won the 2006 Big Ten pommel horse crown. Bucher, who was voted tri-captain of the 2008 squad, is a four-time All-Big Ten selection and a 2007 CGA Second Team All-America Scholar-Athlete.

In his time at Ohio State, the textiles and clothing major earned National Gymnast of the Week honors once (March 17, 2007) and Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors twice (Jan. 31 and March 21, 2007).

Nationally, Bucher has qualified for seven of the last nine USA Gymnastics’ VISA Championships and was named to the 2002 and ’05 U.S. Senior National teams.

2008 Nissen-Emery Award Finalists:
DJ Bucher, Ohio State
Wesley Haagensen, Illinois
Derek Helsby, Penn State
Jonathan Horton, Oklahoma
Tim McNeill, California
David Sender, Stanford
Luke Vexler, Temple

BUCKEYES AND THE AWARD
Four Buckeyes have won the Nissen-Emery Award, including Mike Racanelli in 1990, Kip Simons in 1994, Blaine Wilson in 1997 and Jamie Natalie in 2001. Only Oklahoma has had more gymnasts garner the recognition with five winners. Ohio State’s four honorees ties with Southern Connecticut State who also produced four before dropping its program in 2004. Since 1999, the Buckeye program has produced a candidate to the award’s finalists list eight of the last 10 seasons.

Each year, the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award is presented to the nation’s outstanding senior male collegiate gymnast. In addition to excellence in the sport, the winner also must be an example of good sportsmanship and maintain a high standard of scholarship throughout his college career.

GO DJ, THAT’S MY DJ
Voted tri-captain of the 2008 squad at Ohio State’s Varsity Exhibition (Jan. 5), six-time All-American DJ Bucher started his senior season off strong, placing second on rings (14.9) and tying for fifth on parallel bars (14.45) at the Windy City Invitational (Jan. 12). He added another second-place finish on pommel horse with a season-high 14.6 at home against Illinois (Jan. 26). Bouncing back from injury, the native of Mason, Ohio, made his presence known vs. Michigan (March 22), nabbing his first win of the season on parallel bars with a season-best 15.35. The Nissen-Emery Award finalist nearly captured his third-career Big Ten parallel bars crown April 5, but finished second to Penn State’s Casey Sandy with a 15.1 at the individual finals.

WYNN AT THE TOP OF HIS CLASS
This season, Buckeye freshman Brandon Wynn has not only adjusted to his new competition schedule but has done so in good fashion. A native of Voorhees, N.J., Wynn enters the postseason with the highest all-around three-score average among the nation’s rookies with an 85.65. The average ranks Wynn fifth among all Big Ten competitors and eighth nationally in the GymInfo rankings. The freshman only trails five seniors and two juniors in the national rankings. He owns the No. 1 average among his conference counterparts on rings (14.71), the second-best average on high bar (14.42) and the third-highest parallel bars average with a 14.27. On vault, Wynn comes in at No. 5 in the Big Ten with a 15.5 average.

OHIO STATE IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
The Buckeyes hold Top 10 team averages on all six events, including a team-best sixth on floor (59.6), vault (62.63) and high bar (56.76). The squad holds eighth on rings (58.61) and parallel bars (57.94) while ranking ninth on pommel horse with a 55.68 three-score average.
 
BUCKEYES IN THE TOP 10
Three Ohio State gymnasts hold Top 10 individual event scores in the GymInfo national rankings, including captains Jimmy Wickham and Jake Bateman. Wickham, a native of Gulfport, Miss., owns the highest ranking of any Buckeye at the No. 2 spot with a three-score average of 16.33 on vault. The senior also holds the nation’s fifth-highest average on floor with a 15.4, tying Stanford’s Josh Dixon. Bateman also holds two Top 10 averages in the GymInfo rankings. The junior from Kingsport, Tenn., is sixth on parallel bars with a 15.14 three-score average, earning him the second-highest average in the Big Ten. Bateman also owns the country’s fifth-best and Big Ten’s third-best all-around average of 86.7 after finishing second in the all-around competition at the Big Ten championships.

Freshman Brandon Wynn breaks into the Top 10 with an eighth-ranked average of 85.65 in the all-around. A native of Voorhees, N.J., Wynn holds the fifth-best all-around average among Big Ten competitors and the best among the nation’s rookie class. The gymnast trails five seniors and two juniors in the standings.