STANFORD, Calif. – As the Buckeyes are gearing up for the 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships, senior tri-captain Jimmy Wickham will be blogging about his experience leading up to the national championships held April 17-19 in Stanford, Calif. Check in daily for updates on the championships weekend.
Monday, April 14
We left for the NCAA championships after our workout today. We did our final preparations at our practice gym, Steelwood Athletic Training Facility, before heading to the airport for our 6 p.m. flight to Palo Alto, California. The team was relaxed and in good spirits, hoping to continue the steady improvements over the course of the year. Today marked the final Steelwood workouts for the seniors including myself, David Ortiz, Tony Duong, and DJ Bucher. It was definitely hard to think about it, but there is still a week left of work to be done out on the West Coast.

This is our first trip out to the West Coast for our team this year and everyone is excited and prepared to go. We had a about a two hour layover in Vegas before arriving late into San Jose Airport. After checking into the hotel, the team got to rest for a busy first day at NCAA’s.

Tuesday, April 15
We started off the day in Stanford with a team breakfast at our hotel followed by a team meeting to go over the itinerary for the trip. We went into the gym at 10 a.m. to get acquainted with Maples Pavilion and stretch around. We usually do two-a-days when we compete. It seems to help get our bodies moving early so were better prepared. More importantly, were competing in the early session in NCAA team qualifier Thursday, so it’s a great chance to get used to performing at an earlier time. The team felt good about moving around and stretching, considering the late flight and was prepared for a good afternoon workout. 

We picked up some lunch from a local store before heading back to the gym for our 2 p.m. workout. We shared the gym with a couple teams but it wasn’t too crowded. Usually, the first day of training is a quite entertaining and today was no exception. There were people falling left and right trying to get used to the new equipment and surroundings. Vault seemed to be the worst as it always is. Guys were, for lack of better words, “eating the mat” on every try. With that said, we had a pretty good day and still have tomorrow to get a feel for our gymnastics before we take to the competition on Thursday.

To finish off the day, we’re headed to Pejman Ebrahimi’s uncle’s house in the Bay area for a team dinner. This will be the second time doing this after it was a big success last year during a dual with Cal Berkeley. Hopefully, we can post pictures soon because the house and surrounding views are amazing. After dinner, we’ll probably try and get as much rest as we can before our final preparations tomorrow. Another day closer to a chance to go for an NCAA team title. Go Bucks!

Wednesday, April 16
Hey everyone! Last night was a success out at Pejman’s uncle’s house. The food was amazing – as was the view out over San Francisco. What we didn’t anticipate, however, was the hour-plus commute it took to get there but it was definitely worth it. We got back to the hotel pretty late and while some guys headed down to the hot tub to relax, I was too exhausted and called it a night around 11 p.m.

This morning started out again with a team breakfast in the lobby. It’s a pretty good buffet style breakfast but we have to make sure that we’re not indulging ourselves too much. It seems that we have been fed so much on this trip already. Morning workout went well today. We’re only having one workout today because all 12 teams plus the individuals who qualified from other nonqualified team have to train as well, but I don’t think any of our team was too upset about that. Training went a lot smoother than yesterday and the team is definitely prepared to compete tomorrow afternoon. After the last couple of years of not qualifying to team finals, the team is amped and ready to change that trend. The top teams in our session include Oklahoma, Penn State and that team up north. All are ranked higher than us but we feel confident that we can finish in the Top 3 and advance to team finals on Friday. 

We’re headed out to an NCAA banquet tonight for dinner (surprise, surprise) where the yearly honors such as coach of the year and the Nissen-Emery Award (given to the best male gymnast of the year) are awarded. This is the gymnastics equivalent of the Heisman trophy winner. Fellow senior DJ Bucher is nominated and we wish him luck tonight. He’s done an amazing job his entire gymnastics career and the last four years as a member of the Ohio State team. Wish us luck for tomorrow in the team qualification round and Go Bucks!