Ohio State returns to competition floor for first time in four weeks in St. John Arena

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team plays host for the first time this season as the squad welcomes UIC to St. John Arena for a 7 p.m. dual Saturday. Saturday is Olympic Night at St. John Arena as Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach and four-time U.S. assistant coach, and Blaine Wilson, former Buckeye and three-time Olympian, will display their memorabilia from the Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing Games.

“We are tremendously excited about this competition,” Avery said. “The break was great for this team because it allowed us time to regroup. I think people will get a sneak peak of the potential this team has this weekend.”

After only two competitions, Ohio State holds a 2-3 overall record and is 1-4 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes and the Flames previously met this season as UIC hosted the Windy City Invitational in Chicago Jan. 17. The Scarlet and Gray finished the meet in fourth with a 337.65 team score while UIC placed fifth (327.7). In the all-time series, the Buckeyes hold a 52-3 advantage over the Flames.

The Scarlet and Gray are receiving high scores from a plethora of Buckeyes this season. Ohio State is seeing production across the board as it has a different gymnast leading each of the six events. Seniors Jake Bateman and Eddie Hay lead on parallel bars and floor, respectively. Bateman is averaging a 14.75 on parallel bars while Hay, a native of Butler, Pa., owns a 15.3 average on floor.

Juniors Tai Lee and Justin Myers are posting team-best marks for the Buckeyes on pommel horse and high bar. Lee is averaging a 13.775 on pommel horse and Myers, the team’s two-time most improved honoree, leads the squad on high bar with a 14.4 average.

Sophomore Brandon Wynn showed his strength on rings, scoring a Buckeye-high 15.05 at Illinois Jan. 24 and freshman Philip Onorato champions the squad on vault with a 15.65 average after recording a 16.0 vs. the Illini en route to his first-place finish.

Ranked 12th in the latest GymInfo national poll (Feb. 16), UIC is 2-6 on the season, defeating Iowa at the Windy City Invitational Jan. 17 and downing Temple Jan. 31. Last time out, the Flames’ Andrew Stover claimed first in the all-around vs. Michigan Feb. 8 with a 2009-best 81.55. The team fell, 340.05-324.2, on the road in Ann Arbor.

At the Ohio State-UIC meet, the first 150 kids will receive a free Ohio State medal as the team celebrates Olympic Night. In addition, Olympic memorabilia from Miles Avery and Blaine Wilson will be on display.

“I am proud to show Ohio State’s association with the Olympics at the meet Saturday,” Avery said. “It has been a great privilege to serve the last four U.S. Olympic teams on the coaching staff and it has been a joy to see Buckeyes representing the country and the university at that level.”

Ohio State and the Olympics
Miles Avery
, assistant coach – Atlanta, 1996; Sydney, 2000; Athens, 2004; Beijing, 2008
Peter Kormann, Olympian – Montreal, 1976; head coach – Atlanta, 1996; Sydney, 2000
Raj Bhavsar, Olympian – Beijing, 2008; alternate – Athens, 2004
Jamie Natalie, alternate – Sydney, 2000
Gil Pinto (Brazil), Olympian – Seoul, 1988
Kip Simons, Olympian – Atlanta, 1996
Blaine Wilson, Olympian – Atlanta, 1996; Sydney, 2000; Athens, 2004

It also is FUNday Saturday at the dual. For $7, each person receives a ticket, hotdog, soda and popcorn.

The first 300 fans in attendance will receive a free team poster and the 2009 Buckeyes will be available for a postgame autograph session on the main concourse.

The Ohio State-UIC meet will be streamed online Saturday night through Buckeye Vision on the official website of the Buckeyes at Standard rates apply.

Fans also can track the progress of the Buckeyes via live scoring on Live scoring can be accessed on the men’s gymnastics schedule page and is free of charge.

The Buckeyes jump back into conference action as they travel to State College, Pa., for a 2 p.m. dual vs. Penn State Feb. 28 in Rec Hall.