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Tal, Ebrahimi claim first on rings, vault, respectively

COLUMBUS, Ohio The eighth-ranked Ohio State men’s gymnastics team held a two-point lead over No. 7 Penn State after four events, but the Nittany Lions countered with a three-point advantage on parallel bars and high bar to take the conference win, 347.6-346.5, Saturday in State College, Pa. Ohio State moves to 3-4 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten Conference.

The Scarlet and Gray posted a season-high 59.35 on floor to jump ahead and won rings, 59.0-57.45, and vault, 62.6-61.8, to hold the lead heading into the final two rotations. The Nittany Lions mounted a comeback with wins on parallel bars, 58.1-56.5, and high bar with the Buckeyes turning in a season-low, 54.45 to Penn State’s 56.15.

“This meet was tight the whole way through,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “It was a great meet for us to have because this experience will help our squad as we enter the championships season.”

Junior Shachar Tal finished first on rings with a 15.2 for the Buckeyes while Pejman Ebrahimi led on vault for the second-consecutive contest, scoring a first-place 15.9 on the event. Senior Jake Bateman compiled a meet-best 86.1 in the all-around while sophomore Brandon Wynn hit a season-high 85.25 and freshman Philip Onorato tallied an 83.65. Penn State did not have a gymnast compete the all-around.

In the first rotation, Eddie Hay scored a team-best 15.25 and Justin Myers had a season-high 14.85 to finish second and third, respectively, to help Ohio State to its 2009-best 59.35 on floor. In just his second meet, Ty Echard, a freshman from Lancaster, Ohio, led the Buckeyes on pommel horse, scoring a 14.1 to place second. Junior Michael Bell followed in third with a season-high 13.75.

On rings and vault, Ohio State went 1-2 on both events.  Tal took the top spot with a 15.2 while Bateman, a co-captain from Kingsport, Tenn., had a 14.95 to tie for second on rings. On vault, Ebrahimi tallied a 15.9 for first while Wynn, a sophomore from Voorhees, N.J., scored a 15.75 for second.

Wynn and Plano, Texas, native Onorato tied for third on parallel bars with a pair of season-high 14.4s to lead the squad while Bateman recorded a 2009-best 14.45 for second on high bar.

The Buckeyes remain on the road next week, setting off for Berkeley, Calif., to take on the California Golden Bears at 10 p.m. EST Friday.