April 23, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team scored a 229.85 in the team preliminaries of the NCAA Mens Gymnastics Championship, good enough for second and advancing it to the team finals in Lincoln, Neb. The Buckeyes join leader Michigan (230.500) and host Nebraska (228.200) as the top three teams moving on. Ohio State was paced by Jamie Natalie (So., Hockessin, Del.) who tied his individual season best on the vault (9.65). The team also recorded a new season best on the floor exercise (38.625). Daren Lynch (So., Londonderry, N.H.) tied his career-high on the vault (9.75).

The Buckeyes return to the NCAA Championship finals after a three-year absence. The last time Ohio State made the finals was in 1996, when it went on to claim the national title.

Throughout the course of the evening, the lead traded place several times between Ohio State and Michigan, with the Buckeyes leading for half the competition until the Wolverines pulled ahead after Ohio State faltered a bit on the pommel horse and horizontal bar.

Head coach Miles Avery said, “Making the finals this year definitely feels better right now than last year when we self-destructed after the first rotation and missed the cut. We started out on a roll and luckily that carried us through some mishaps on the parallel bars and horizontal bar. All along I thought these were the best three teams in the nation, and these are the ones that are left standing for the final day of competition.”

When asked to forecast the outcome of the Championship, Avery said, “Tomorrow night is going to be a close, tight competition. The team that hits all of their routines the best will win. Since we didn’t hit everything tonight, that gives us something to look forward to tomorrow.”

Nebraska’s Jason Hardabura won the all-around. Natalie placed ninth. Other Ohio State top all-around finishers included Doug Stibel (Sr., Canton, Mich.) who was 12th, Tim Elsner (Sr., Middletown, N.J.) who was 13th, and Jay Nardelli (So., Centreville, Va.), who was 15th.

The individual event finals are Sat. at 7 p.m. These are the top eight individuals from each event. Those representing the Buckeyes are: Elsner and Stibel on the floor exercise, Lynch in the vault, Natalie on the pommel horse and parallel bars, Peter Landry (Sr., Lewiston, Maine) on the parallel bars and Stibel on the parallel bars.

Team Scores: Michigan 230.500 Ohio State 229.850 Nebraska 229.525 Penn State 228.200 Brigham Young 227.150 Stanford 226.700