Thursday, April 2, 2009
Hello Buckeye fans! Well, we bussed into Ann Arbor last night and got in around 10:30 p.m. or so. The bus ride was pretty fun and entertaining as is every bus ride with the Men’s Gymnastics Team. We watched the movie Role Models and part of 300, and also got a few laughs from Jake Bateman messing with a few of the guys who fell asleep (this happens frequently).

After we checked into the hotel we had a quick team meeting and some guys went to grab a late night bite to eat before bed. I had Subway on the bus so I stayed in, unpacked and watched some TV before passing out. P.S. My roommate is freshman pommel horse guru, Steven Spencer.

I had set my alarm for 9 a.m. this morning to get a quick bite to eat before meeting down in the lobby to go over to the competition arena (Crisler Arena) for our morning stretch but unfortunately I didn’t need an alarm. For some reason, I woke up at around 7:45 a.m. and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fall back asleep. So I got out of bed and did some really productive Facebooking until around 9 a.m. and then went across the street to Tim Horton’s and got a bagel. After breakfast, we all went to the arena, stretched out and checked out the equipment a bit.

After that we came back to the hotel to relax for a bit before our normal practice at 2 p.m. Most of the guys went out to eat but I really don’t like to eat before I workout so I took a short nap until the guys came back. A few of us got together and hung out in my room watching TV, looking at videos on YouTube, and of course, Facebook!

At 2 p.m. we left for Crisler again but this time for a real practice. We arrived there earlier than all the other teams which was really nice because we got the whole gym to ourselves and didn’t have to worry about sharing the equipment or waiting in lines to get on the events. Before every practice we warm up by throwing a football or frisbee around for a bit and then we stretch out and finally get going. Since the team competition is tomorrow, we had our normal pre-meet workout which consists of going through your events and doing all your skills or parts of your routine to just prepare yourself and be comfortable with your skills for the meet the next day. Overall, practice went pretty well.

Everyone looked good and ready but some of us, including myself, had to take some extra time and turns on the events to adjust to the equipment. By the end of practice though, I think were all ready to come back tomorrow and win a championship!

After practice we all went to dinner together at the Olive Garden…. or tried to. We walked in but apparently they didn’t have any room for us. So we went next door to Max & Erma’s instead. Dinner was good and very fun. One of our freshman, Ty Echard, went to play a few arcade games and while he was gone and not watching his coke, junior Justin Myers, with the help of a few other upperclassman, poured about eight packets of Splenda and sugar into his drink. Ty came back and drank it, made a funny face, but continued to drink it without saying anything. It wasn’t until we poured a ton of salt and pepper into Ty’s coke that he made a ridiculous face and knew something was wrong. It was pretty funny.

Now, were all back at the hotel and watching Grandmas Boy together. It’s been a fun and productive day and we are all ready and looking forward for tomorrow. We have had an awesome couple of weeks of practice and were ready to go!

Last time I was here in 2005 for the Big Ten Championship we won our first of three in a row so I think tomorrow is a pretty good time to start another conference championship streak. Well it’s getting late and I am ready to relax a bit before I pass out. Wish us luck tomorrow! We’re ready to bring a championship back to Columbus. Go Bucks!

– Pej

Friday, April 3, 2009
Wow, what a long day! Well, the day started pretty similar to yesterday except this time I slept very well until my alarm went off. I went down to the lobby with junior Justin Myers and had some breakfast in the hotel restaurant. After breakfast, the team gathered in the lobby at 10 a.m., piled into our three minivans and headed to the arena for the morning stretch around. We spent about an hour or so in the arena stretching out, moving around, visualizing routines and of course, throwing a football around.

After the morning stretch around, we stopped at Subway on our way home. The one thing you have to understand about gymnasts is that everyone has different eating habits and some have very strict eating schedules on a meet day.

Some people like to eat only once before the meet while others will eat a few times throughout the day. Personally, I like to have an extremely light breakfast and eat that “5-dolla foot-long” at exactly 3:45 p.m. So we ordered our subs and headed back to the hotel. I put my sub in the fridge for later and took a long nap till about 2:30 p.m. Taking naps is another little ritual I like to do on meet days but everyone is different. I promise you there are tons of little rituals everyone on the team has and some are definitely out there.

I like to move around a bit and loosen up by walking around and doing some light stretching after my naps. After that, I begin to get into competition mode. I like to zone out into my own world, clear my head of all outside thoughts and really just focus on the competition and what I have to do that night.

I usually am kicking back and relaxing on my bed or sitting at my computer but I am always listening to music that helps me focus and pumps me up. At 3:45 p.m. I ate my sub and began to get ready. I always shave and shower before meets and after that I make sure my gym bag has my uniform, power bars, iPod, grips, etc.

The team met down in the lobby at 4:30 p.m. and we headed out, pumped and ready for the Big Ten Championships.

We arrived at the arena and stretched out and began the general warm up which is just one big open warm up on all the events. After that there is a more organized timed warm up where each team goes and warms up each event one by one until each team has touched all six events. Warm up went real well. Everyone looked great, comfortable and confident. We were ready to go.

We started the meet on one of our best events, rings. It wasn’t our best performance on but it still went pretty well. And the meet kind of went like that the rest of the way. As a team we did well. We fought hard and kept each other up. We had no major collapses on an event but we still definitely had some mistakes and left a few points out there on the competition floor. Overall, I was proud of the energy and fight we had as a team. We ended up finishing third which is not what we wanted but there were still lots of positives to take away from this meet. This performance was not near our best, but do I feel we are peaking at the right time and by NCAA’s we will be ready to go!

The meet is not over for many of us though. Tomorrow we have the individual event finals so hopefully the Buckeyes come home with some event titles!

After the meet, I went and had dinner with DJ Bucher (Ohio State gymnast who finished last year) and his family. They are like my second family to me in Columbus and have come to our home and away meets this season so I am very thankful for all the support they have given me.

Now I have to go relax and unwind. I’ll finish watching my Los Angeles Lakers whoop up on the Houston Rockets and begin getting ready for tomorrow. I made the vault finals so I am going to rest up for that. Wish me luck and Go Bucks!!!