COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rising juniors Michael Chan and Sean Neighbarger have been named men’s gymnastics captains for the 2019-2020 season, head coach Rustam Sharipov announced last week.
“I believe both Sean and Michael have earned the trust of the team in their past years to now be great leaders in the classroom and in the gym. Chan was our co-captain last season, too. We have a young team with eight freshman guys. It will be a lot of learning this year, but I am confident that with both of our captains’ leadership, our team will excel rapidly,” Head Coach Rustam Sharipov said.
Michael Chan, an economics major and Louisville, Ky. native, is entering his second year as co-captain for the Buckeyes. In the 2018-2019 season, Chan notched a season-high as well as a personal best on the rings (13.400) over No. 6 Minnesota and No. 8 Nebraska.
Chan is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten (2018,19) and three-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete (2017,18,19).
“What excites me most about being captain this year is our team’s spread of personalities. We are comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores with exceptional talent. That can be molded into an extremely effective team. What is especially exciting is our upperclassmen leadership. Not only the captains, but people like Andrew Brower, Robert Costea, Josh Seltzer and Max Andryushchenko that are great role models and leaders for this team. Seeing multiple leaders on the roster is a sure sign of an elite team as each brings something different to the table. It’s an honor for me to be around people that share similar values and goals,” Chan said.
Chan on what he plans to bring to the table: “Previous captains have set the bar high. Not only have previous captains been great on paper, but they have led by example. So much of how I run the team has been derivative of what they did. Ohio State is a place of tradition and to carry the torch forward is an responsibility I don’t take lightly. I have one goal, as I said before, and that is to maximize the potential of each individual on the team to in turn maximize our team’s potential. This doesn’t only mean the gym, it means in their personal life, professional life, social life, academics…. you name it. That’s how I plan to fulfill my duty as a captain this year.”
Sean Junior Neighbarger, an exercise science major and Virginia Beach native, is coming off a successful run at NCAA’s with a 14.366 on value, which earned him a qualifying spot. Additionally, he notched the team-high and tied for second overall on the vault (14.700) at No. 1 Oklahoma.
Neighbarger is a two-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete (2018, 19), an Academic All-Big Ten honoree and the 2018 CGA First Team All-American Scholar-Athlete.
“This group of guys has a very unique dynamic. in contrast to past years, we are much more evenly spread, allowing for a healthy level of internal competition. This gives us a built-in form of motivation as everyone has to fight to earn that lineup position. We are a very close group, which makes time in the gym something I look forward to. My experience so far as a Buckeye has given me a deeper understanding of effective leadership and the importance of relationship-building in order to cultivate a great team culture. I already see the beginnings of a changing team which makes me so excited to begin with the already amazing foundation we have and help these guys grow as brothers and competitors,” he said.
Neighbarger on this new role: “As captain, I definitely have big shoes to fill. The captains I had the past two years are part of the Buckeye greats and it is so important that we uphold their level of excellence. I am very thankful to be sharing this position with Michael Chan, who has the experience of being a captain last year. The two of us communicate really well and share a lot of the same ideas regarding both areas we need to prioritize and improve. The main responsibility I am taking is to be more than just an example of how to act and train. I want to put effort in to making sure everyone feels fully connected as a unit so that we can arrive on the same page moving forward into the season.”
Last season, the Buckeyes entered the season ranked No. 8 nationally with one individual National Champion. This year, Ohio State will open its season at the Steelwood Facility Saturday, Nov. 23 for the Scarlet and Gray exhibition match.