Aug. 17, 2000

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State men’s gymnast Jamie Natalie (Sr., Hockessin, Del.) is in fifth place after the preliminary session of the U.S. Olympic Trials, held tonight at the FleetCenter in Boston. OSU teammate Raj Bhavsar (So., Houston, Texas) is currently in 14th place in the event. Natalie entered the trials in sixth place, while Bhavsar was 14th. The final session will be Saturday, Aug. 19 at 4 p.m., where the six Olympic Team members will be determined.

The first four members of the U.S. Olympic Team will be selected based on combined scores from the John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships (preliminaries 20 percent, finals 20 percent), which was held July 26-28 in St. Louis, and the Olympic Trials (preliminaries 30 percent, finals 30 percent). The remaining two members of the team will be determined based on their scores on certain events that a committee deems would compensate for the first four team members’ weaknesses. Two alternates also will be chosen.

Natalie opened the competition by posting a 9.35 on parallel bars before scoring a 9.750 on high bar. He continued the meet with a 9.100 on floor exercise, an 8.900 on pommel horse, a 9.200 on still rings and a 9.100 on vault. Natalie’s composite score of 77.650, including a 55.400 tonight, is .795 of a point out of fourth place, the last guaranteed spot on the Olympic Team.

Bhavsar scored a 9.450 on parallel bars in his first routine before struggling on high bar (8.150). He then posted an 8.650 on floor, an 8.900 on both pommel horse and rings and an 8.650 on vault. His current total is 74.950.

Former Buckeye Blaine Wilson stands in first place with a composite score of 81.385, almost a full two points ahead of second-place Paul Hamm (79.580). Sean Townsend is in third (78.485), while Stephen McCain ranks fourth (78.445).

The men’s gymnastics U.S. Olympic Trials will be broadcast at noon Sunday, Aug. 20 on NBC.