July 29, 2000

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State men’s gymnasts Jamie Natalie (Sr., Hockessin, Del.) and Raj Bhavsar (So., Houston, Texas) each qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials by placing among the top 14 gymnasts at the 2000 John Hancock U.S. Championships, yesterday in St. Louis.

The 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be held in Boston, Aug. 17-20. Four of the six spots on the Olympic Team will be decided using 40 percent of the gymnast’s score from the national championships and 60 percent of his score from the Olympic Trials. The other two spots will be chosen by committee, but the athletes’ scores in the two competitions will be heavily considered. The members of the Senior National Team will also be determined at that time.

“Getting to the final trials is great,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “It’s very exciting to have two current Buckeyes finish among the top 14 gymnasts in the country.”

Natalie ended the competition in sixth place after finishing the preliminaries in the seventh spot. He posted a combined score of 111.025, including a 55.350 yesterday. Natalie, who tied for the high bar championship in the event finals Wednesday, scored an 9.850 on the event in the final round, the highest high bar score of the championship.

“Jamie didn’t have his best meet – he has the ability to place higher than sixth,” Avery said. “He really positioned himself to make the Olympic Team.”

Bhavsar finished the meet in 14th place, earning the final spot for the trials. He scored a total of 108.325, including a 53.925 in the finals. Bhavsar was in 15th place going into the final rotation but scored a 9.300 on parallel bars to move into the final spot.

“Raj also didn’t have his best meet, as he was a little nervous,” Avery said. “But, he rose to the occasion and finished 14th, which is all he had to do.” Former Buckeye Blaine Wilson won his fifth-consecutive national title with a two-day total of 115.675, over a full point ahead of second-place Sean Townsend (113.975). Another former Buckeye, Doug Stibel, also competed in the competition but did not advance to the Olympic Trials after placing 25th.

The John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships will be broadcast on NBC at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5.