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Buckeyes improve to No. 6 in the GymInfo national poll

COLUMBUS, Ohio Despite a close loss to Penn State last weekend, the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team (3-4; 1-5 Big Ten), jumped two spots to No. 6 in the GymInfo standings. The Buckeyes will look to continue their climb up the national poll this weekend as they face stiff competition from No. 3 California at 10 p.m. Friday in Berkeley, Calif.

The Golden Bears are 8-1 on the season and are averaging a team score of 355.35 to rank third in the nation. The Buckeyes hold the No. 6 spot with a 348.783 average.

OHIO STATE CHART TOPPERS
Ohio State is receiving production across the board with eight gymnasts breaking into the NCAA and Big Ten standings.

Senior co-captain Jake Bateman leads the squad with an 86.9 all-around average that ranks him third in the conference and seventh in the NCAA. The Kingsport, Tenn., native also holds the No. 2 spot on rings among conference foes with a 15.033, just behind teammate Shachar Tal in first with a 15.083 average on the event. Tal and Bateman are rated fifth and seventh (tied), respectively, among all competitors. Bateman also holds the team’s best mark on parallel bars this season, notching a 14.85 at Illinois Jan. 24. He averages a 14.5 on the event to rank seventh in the Big Ten. Sophomore Brandon Wynn is fourth in the Big Ten all-around standings with an 84.517 mean after three competitions. His average ranks him ninth in the country.

Senior Eddie Hay champions the squad on floor and sits in the No. 1 spot in the league rankings with a 15.283 average. Hay, a native of Butler, Pa., scored a Buckeye season-best 15.35 on floor vs. the Illini in January. Junior Justin Myers, the team’s two-time most improved honoree, leads the squad on high bar with a 14.183 average, including a season-best 14.45 vs. Illinois Feb. 24.

Freshmen standouts Ty Echard and Philip Onorato have carved their spot in the lineup, each leading the Buckeyes on an event. Echard, a native of Lancaster, Ohio, jumped onto the leaderboard after tallying a program-high 15.3 on pommel horse vs. UIC Feb. 21 in his Buckeye debut. Last weekend, he added a 14.1 on the apparatus and owns a team-best 14.7 average. Onorato is tied for fifth on vault among league competitors with a 15.733. He and fifth-year senior Pejman Ebrahimi have hit the team’s two best tallies on vault, producing a 16.0 and 16.05, respectively. Ebrahimi averages a 15.717 on vault to rank eighth in the Big Ten. 

BUCKEYES IN THE RANKINGS
Ohio State owns two Top 3 event totals in the GymInfo national standings released March 2. The Buckeyes hold the nation’s No. 2 ranking on rings with a 59.933 average and the No. 3 spot on vault (62.75). Individually, senior Jake Bateman and sophomore Brandon Wynn stand at seventh (86.9) and ninth (84.517) in the all-around rankings. Bateman also is tied for seventh in the rings standings with a 15.033 average. Eddie Hay and Shachar Tal are the highest ranked Buckeyes, each holding a No. 5 spot on floor and rings, respectively.

ALL-TIME VS. CALIFORNIA
Ohio State trails California in the all-time series, 11-14. The two programs began meeting for a regular-season dual in the 2004 season, with the Golden Bears holding a 3-2 ledger. California has won the last two meets, taking a 355.2-352.0 victory Feb. 16, 2008 in St. John Arena and a close 213.0-212.3 win March 10, 2007. The Buckeyes won in 2005 (215.35-214.45; Feb. 12) and 2006 (215.9-210.7; Feb. 18) while Cal outscored Ohio State in 2004, 218.175-217.4, to finish in second in a tri-meet with Oklahoma.

THE GOLDEN BEARS
The trio of senior Kyson Bunthuwong, sophomore Kyle Bunthuwong and freshman Glen Ishino are leading California on the competition floor this season. Ishino is fifth in the nation in the all-around, averaging an 87.867, including a season-best 89.6 recorded Feb. 21. The Bunthuwong brother tandem both own Golden Bear Top 3 marks on floor, pommel horse and high bar. Kyle is sixth in the GymInfo standings with an 86.933 all-around average.

LOOKING FOR A FINISH
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, Feb. 28 in State College, Pa.

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.

Junior Shachar Tal finished first on rings with a 15.2 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 in the all-around.

SWEEPING THE TOP 3
Ohio State had a gymnast claim first on each event en route to a season-high tally of 350.8 and victory over UIC (333.05) Feb. 21 in St. John Arena. On the night, the Buckeyes swept the Top 3 finishes on floor, rings, vault and parallel bars.

A crowd of 707 saw seniors Jake Bateman (floor) andPejman Ebrahimi (vault), sophomore Brandon Wynn (rings) and freshmen Ty Echard (pommel horse) and Philip Onorato (rings, high bar, all-around) record meet-best tallies. Competing in just his third meet as a Buckeye, Onorato captured the all-around win, scoring a season-high 85.85. Wynn placed second in the all-around with an 84.5.

ON A ROLL WITH ONORATO
Freshman Philip Onorato is proving rookies can make a difference, helping Ohio State to a season-high team total of 350.8 Feb. 21 after turning in two first-place finishes and a win in the all-around. Competing the all-around for the first time this season, the Plano, Texas, native scored a meet-high 85.85, placing first on both rings (tie-15.35) and high bar (14.2). His marks on rings and high bar were personal bests while he also set career highs on floor (14.6) and parallel bars (14.05).

With a 15.733 average on vault, Onorato ranks tied for fifth in the Big Ten and 13th (tied) in the nation on the event (as of March 2). His average, tied with Penn State’s rookie Matt Albrecht, is highest produced by a Big Ten freshman this season.

THE SCHEDULE
Ohio State, which welcomes six new faces to the Buckeye program this season, has a tough schedule ahead with only two home meets in 2009.   

The Scarlet and Gray opened the season on the road, taking fourth at the Windy City Invitational Jan. 17 and remained away with a conference loss to Illinois Jan. 24 in Champaign, Ill. The Buckeyes opened their home schedule vs. UIC with a 350.8-333.05 victory Feb. 21 in their first collegiate competition in four weeks.

Ohio State is now in the midst of a three-meet road swing. The Buckeyes dropped a 347.6-346.5 decision to reigning Big Ten champion and then-No. 7 Penn State last Saturday in State College, Pa.

This week, Ohio State remains on the road to face No. 3 California Friday and caps its away schedule with a dual vs. No. 2 Oklahoma on March 14. Regular-season action ends with a home contest against No. 5 Michigan at 7 p.m. March 21. The dual in Columbus will be aired on the Big Ten Network on tape delay at 6 p.m. March 25.  

UP NEXT
Longtime rivals meet again as Ohio State wraps up its road schedule with a dual vs. second-rated Oklahoma at 8 p.m. EST March 14 in Norman, Okla.

The Scarlet and Gray close out the regular season vs. No. 5 Michigan at 7 p.m. March 21 in St. John Arena. The Buckeye-Wolverine dual in Columbus will be televised by the Big Ten Network on tape delay at 6 p.m. March 25.