Feb. 6, 2007

Winter Cup Challenge
Day I: Individual event and all-around qualifying sessions
Thursday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST

Day II: Individual event and all-around finals
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 3 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team (5-2; 1-0 Big Ten) will take a break from regular competition to compete at the 2007 Winter Cup Challenge Thursday-Saturday at the Sports Center Arena in Las Vegas. The OSU men’s program is sending the most representatives (10) to the USA Gymnastics competition this year, including all four Buckeye seniors.

The coaching staff and eight Ohio State student-athletes will represent the men’s program at the two day competition which consists of two sessions Thursday and a finals round Saturday. Seniors Willie Ito, Kristopher Kline, Grant Osborne and Nicholaus Searcy will be joined by juniors DJ Bucher and Jimmy Wickham, sophomore Jake Bateman and freshman Tai Lee at the Winter Cup. At the challenge, two pools of 42 gymnasts will vie for seven spots on the U.S. Senior National team. In addition to the student-athletes, former Buckeyes Blaine Wilson and Randy Monahan, Ohio State volunteer assistant coach, will compete at the national meet as well.

On Thursday, Session I will begin at 2 p.m. EST and Session II will start at 8 p.m. EST. In the first two rounds, 84 gymnasts will look to advance to the finals by finishing in the Top 36 based on an approved U.S. Men’s Program Committee points system. The Top 3 finishers on each event automatically qualify for the Winter Cup finals at 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday. For the Buckeyes, both Wickham and Bucher have had success on the national platform in recent years. At the 2006 Winter Cup Challenge, Wickham earned an outright spot on the 2006 U.S. National team after grabbing the U.S. National vault title with combined score of 32.45. In 2005, Bucher was named to the U.S. National team after compiling a score of 18.425 on parallel bars for first place at the U.S. Championships in Indianapolis, Ind.

The Ohio State squad posted a season-high 216.35 to overtake Temple by 17.8 points at St. John Arena Feb. 3. In the home opener, the Buckeyes scored Top 3 individual scores on all events but high bar. In the defeat, the squad noted Top 5 finishes on pommel horse, rings and parallel bars. Senior Grant Osborne and junior DJ Bucher earned two event wins each at the dual. Osborne scored event highs on floor (9.35) and pommel horse (9.3). While Bucher tied teammate Kristopher Kline for first on rings (9.4) and scored a 9.5 to win parallel bars. Buckeyes David Ortiz and Tai Lee also grabbed event wins on vault (9.1) and high bar (9.4), respectively.

Regular-season action resumes Feb. 24 as the Buckeyes face Penn State at 7 p.m. at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa. The visit to the conference rival will allow Ohio State the chance to compete in the arena where the 2007 NCAA Championships will be held April 12-14.