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With a 355.95, Ohio State ends its season on a high note

MINNEAPOLIS  It was another career night for the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team as it tallied its second-consecutive season high with a 355.95 team total Friday night at the 2009 NCAA Championships at the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion. The squad finished the competition in sixth place and saw sophomore Brandon Wynn earn his first career All-America honor with an eighth-place finish (87.45) in the all-around. With the laurel, Wynn becomes the 20th Buckeye to garner the distinction under the helm of Ohio State head coach Miles Avery and the 43rd in school history.

“They guys let it all out there and it was a tremendous competition for them, especially with pommel horse scoring another career high,” Averysaid. “I am so proud of this team and the way they have competed at the championships. Brandon Wynn had a great night and certainly is deserving of an All-America honor.”

In the national individual event finals, the Scarlet and Gray will have five athletes competing for an NCAA title Saturday night. Eddie Hay will be competing on floor, Ty Echard and Steven Spencer will represent the Buckeyes on pommel horse while Jake Bateman and Shachar Tal will battle on rings.

Ohio State posted four individual career highs en route to its season-high 355.95, including another outstanding performance on pommel horse to notch its second program high in a row with a 58.35.

Stanford won the title with a 362.8 while Michigan, 2009 co-Big Ten Champions, took second (361.2) and Oklahoma finished third (361.2). California came in fourth with a 361.15 and Illinois placed fifth (359.3).

Competing in the same order as they did in the NCAA qualifier, Ohio State started the night on rings with another great effort. The Buckeyes had another solid outing on the event, tallying a 61.0 for the event. In all, Ohio State had five gymnasts notch a 15.0 or better and three hit personal-highs. Bateman and junior Tal tied for the team lead with a pair of 15.35s to tie for sixth. For Tal, a native of Rehovot, Israel, the 15.35 tied his career high and was the best effort of his junior campaign. Sophomore Wynn added a 15.2, freshman Philip Onorato had a 15.1 while senior Pejman Ebrahimi tied his career high with a 15.0. Sophomore Sean Regan also competed on rings for the Buckeyes, knocking down his previous career-record (14.65) with a score of 14.8.

Ohio State remained steady on vault as Wynn and Onorato led the squad with a pair of 15.7s en route to a 62.55 event total. Wynn’s tally of 15.7 was just five hundredths of a point shy of tying his career-best (15.75). Bateman and junior Justin Myers added the squad’s next two highest marks with a 15.6 and 15.55, respectively.

In the third rotation, Ohio State picked up some ground on parallel bars. Spencer, a redshirt-freshman, nearly repeated his career-best effort, scoring a 14.0, just one-tenth shy of his personal high (14.1). Myers earned the redemption he was looking for on the event, notching a 14.2 for his second-best mark of 2009. Using the emotion from the first two up, the Scarlet and Gray went on to hit a 56.65 team total. Wynn would score the team’s top mark with a 14.3, just .10 shy of his season-record, while Tal and Bateman added a 14.15 and 14.0, respectively.

The Buckeyes collected a 57.35 on high bar behind the effort of Ohio State’s all-arounders, Bateman of Kingsport, Tenn., and Wynn of Voorhees, N.J. Bateman turned in a 14.55 while Wynn just trailed with a 14.5. With only two events remaining, the two were neck and neck in the all-around competition. Wynn held a slight edge with a 59.7 while Bateman had a 59.5. Regan hit the third-best score for the Scarlet and Gray with a 14.35, his second-best tally on high bar in his sophomore career.

Senior Hay and Tal highlighted Ohio State’s performance on floor with two solid sets en route to a season-high 60.05 event total. Hay of Butler, Pa., put forth his best performance of his senior campaign to garner a 15.5 and tie for eighth while Tal had an outstanding night out, earning a career-best 15.15 to trump his previous mark of 14.95. Myers rebounded from high bar with a 14.75, one-tenth off of his season-high, while Bateman and Onorato tied with a 14.65.   

As it did the evening before, Ohio State had a bye in the sixth rotation before competing on its final event, pommel horse.

Nothing could deter the Ohio State pommel horse squad from getting its job done at the national championships, recording its second-consecutive program high with a 58.35. At the NCAA qualifier Thursday, the Buckeyes tallied a 57.55, a then-program high, to secure a Top 3 finish. For the third time in the 2009 championships season, senior pommel horse specialist Andy Saurber hit his best mark of the year, a 14.3, to set the tone for the Buckeyes on pommel horse. It was freshman Echard who would enter in a career-high mark Friday night, tallying a second-place 15.4. Coming in fifth place (tied) was Spencer who added a 14.95 in the squad’s final rotation.

Bateman ended his night with an 86.75 to place ninth.

Of note:
– It was a who’s who of gymnastics for the NCAA team finals. Members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team both coaches and athletes, including Ohio State head coach Miles Avery, Randy Jepson (Penn State head coach), Kevin Tan (Penn State assistant), Justin Spring (Illinois assistant) and David Durante (Stanford assistant). Ohio State’s three-time Olympian Blaine Wilson was on the floor with the Buckeye squad and NCAA-great Bart Connor was a part of the ESPN telecast. And that’s just to name a few.
– There were Buckeyes in the crowd as well as on the floor. Ohio State’s fan contingent held life-size faces of the Buckeye gymnasts. Go Bucks!