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Feb. 9, 2007

www.usa-gymnastics.org for Complete results and live Webcasting

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s gymnastics program saw six Buckeyes and volunteer assistant coach Randy Monahan advance to the Winter Cup Challenge Finals Thursday in Las Vegas. Seniors Willie Ito, Kristopher Kline and Grant Osborne, as well as DJ Bucher, Jimmy Wickham and Jake Bateman, finished in the Top 42 of a pool of 84 gymnasts to secure spots in the second day of competition.

“I am so proud of our guys tonight,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “We have seven guys continuing to the next day when other programs didn’t even bring seven athletes to the competition.”

The Top 42 gymnasts based on an approved U.S. Men’s Program Committee points system qualified for the Winter Cup finals at 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday from the Thursday preliminaries. The Ohio State program is sending a competition-high seven gymnasts to the final round. Four athletes is the second most number of gymnasts any other NCAA or club program will advance to the second day at the USA Gymnastics’ meet.

At the Winter Cup Challenge, DJ Bucher (Jr., Mason, Ohio/Queen City Gymnastics), Jake Bateman (So., Kingsport, Tenn./Premier Gymnastics), Willie Ito (Sr., Huntington Beach, Calif./South Coast Gymnastics), Kristopher Kline (Sr., Westerville, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics) and Nicholaus Searcy (Sr., Dublin, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics) represented the Buckeyes in Session I. For Ohio State, Ito compiled a program-high 70 points and 10th-place ranking among the competition. The 2006 All-American and Big Ten event champion on high bar finished in the Top 10 on each of the three events he competed on, including a third-place tie on high bar (14.9). He also earned a score of 14.4 for fourth on pommel horse and a 14.6 for seventh on parallel bars in the first session.

Bucher ranked 13th among the country’s best, recording 62 points after also scoring Top 10 finishes on the three events. The junior, who has not finished below fourth in NCAA competition this season, noted fourth-place finishes on both rings (14.95) and parallel bars (15.0) and ended in 10th on pommel horse with a 13.8.

Buckeye all-arounders Kline and Bateman earned 32 and 30 points, respectively, to advance. Kline’s two best finishes were on rings and vault. He noted a sixth-place finish on rings (14.75) and eighth-place finish on vault (15.4) to compile an all-around score of 81.45. Bateman scored an 80.2 with a tie for eighth on rings (14.45) and 10th-place finish on floor (14.15).

The remaining Buckeyes, Tai Lee (Fr., Orlando, Fla./Orlando Metro Gymnastics), Grant Osborne (Fort Collins, Colo./USOTC), Jimmy Wickham (Jr., Gulfport, Miss./Planet Gymnastics) and Randy Monahan (Elizabethtown, Pa./Ohio State), competed in the second session.

In the second preliminary round, Osborne, Wickham and Monahan qualified to Saturday night’s competition for Ohio State. Osborne was awarded 53 points for competing on four events, including a third-place finish on pommel horse with a 14.85 and 14.55 on parallel bars for 13th.

Wickham, the 2006 Winter Cup Challenge U.S. National Vault Champion, grabbed second after sticking his landing on the apparatus for a score of 16.3. The junior also noted 10th on floor with a score of 14.45.

Freshman Lee, the nation’s No. 1 high school recruit, finished 18th overall in the all-around with a Buckeye-high combined total of 82.85. Although he noted the highest all-around score for Ohio Sate, he failed to advance to the finals. Lee’s 82.85 ranked sixth among other NCAA athletes in the all-around and marked the highest score for a freshman at the national competition by more than two-and-half points.

The final gymnast to advance from Ohio State is former Buckeye Monahan, who finished the night 18th in the point rankings with 55. In the night session, he earned a 14.8 on floor for fourth and 15.65 on vault (10th).

Complete results can be found at www.usa-gymnastics.org. In addition, viewers can watch the Winter Cup Challenge finals on USA Gymnastics’ Web site Saturday at 10 p.m. EST.

UP NEXT FOR OHIO STATE
The seven Buckeyes moving into the second day of competition are set to begin the meet on rings as they vie for seven open seats on the U.S. National team. The open spots will be filled at the close of the Winter Cup Challenge individual event and all-around finals. The second day of competition is set for 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday at the Sports Center Arena in Las Vegas.