COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s gymnastics program added six signees on National Signing Day. The newest members of Buckeye men’s gymnastics include Justin Ciccone, Kristian Grahovski, Maximilian Olinger, Jesse Pakele, Caden Spencer and Parker Thackston.
Justin Ciccone, AA, Rochester, N.Y., Exercise Science
Ciccone comes to Columbus from Rochester, N.Y., where he attended Greece Athena High School and competed with Bright Raven for the past 14 years. The all-arounder won four national championships during the 2018 season, taking the competition in floor, vault, high bar and all-around. Ciccone finished fifth on the vault at 2019 nationals and sixth on floor in 2021 nationals. He was a finalist at the 2021 Elite Team Cup and Winter Cup.
“I chose The Ohio State University because of the incredible academics and how welcoming the coaches and team made me feel at camp this past summer! Also, loved how the team comes together like a big family and treats one another like a brother!”
Kristian Grahovski, AA, Penfield, N.Y., Business
Grahovski joins Ohio State from Penfield, N.Y., where he attended the local high school and competed under his father’s coaching for the past 14 years. Most recently, Kristian won the 2021 High Bar national championships.
“The reason I chose Ohio State is because from the moment I got there I was welcomed with open arms, and I truly feel that I can be a part of the Buckeye family. I believe that Ohio State is the best place for me to improve my gymnastics and get a great education while helping the team achieve great things.”
Maximilian Olinger, AA, Lake Forest, Ill., Mechanical Engineering
Olinger attended the local high school in Lake Forest, Ill., while competing for his school and Lakeshore Academy of Artistic Gymnastics since 2007. The two-time Illinois State Champion has also won a national championship, finished fifth in the all-around at the 2019 USA Championships, captained the Lakeshore Academic team to two undefeated seasons and is a three-time Academic All-American. Olinger has been a Region 5 Elite Team member for six years and was a member of the 2016 National Developmental Team.
“From the moment I stepped foot in the gym and began working with the Ohio State coaches and team this summer at camp, I felt that this would likely be home. During my official visit to Ohio State this fall, I was impressed by everything this university has to offer me as a student athlete. Most of all, my heart told me that these teammates and coaches were the ones who would help me reach my full potential these next 4 years. I am blessed to be able to represent The Ohio State University and contribute my gifts to this talented group of gymnasts. Go Buckeyes!”
Jesse Pakele, AA, Waipahu, Hawaii, Business
Pakele joins the Buckeyes from Hawaii, where he attended Hawaii Technology Academy and competed at HITS gymnastics. The team captain placed fifth on the pommel horse and sixth in the all-around at 2021 National Championships. Pakele won the pommel horse competition at the 2020 Blackjack National and Stanford Open and the 2019 Region 1 Championships and Blackjack National.
“The brotherhood is unmatched.”
Caden Spencer, AA, Huntington, W.V., Mechanical Engineering
Spencer comes to Columbus from Huntington, W.V. and is currently in his first year at Mountwest Community Technical College. He lettered in soccer for three years at Huntington High School, qualifying for sectionals each season. Spencer competed in the Elite Team Cup in Indianapolis. He hails from a gymnastics family as his grandfather, Bozhidar Russev, has coached many European championships and Olympic gymnasts, including Spencer’s mother, Hrabrina Spencer.
“I chose Ohio State University because of the diversity of opportunities. The guys at Ohio State gymnastics team show amazing support for each other and hype each other up to be better and to successful. They are also a big help when answering my questions and the questions of the other recruits. I can’t wait to show what I can do in the gym when I arrive. I know I can excel in this environment and can have a great time at Ohio State.”
Parker Thackston, AA, Robbinsville, N.J., Biology
Thackston joins the Buckeyes from Robbinsville, N.J., where he attended Robbinsville High School and competed at Gymland Arena. He is the reigning pommel horse national champion, also finishing third on the high bar and fifth in the all-around at the 2021 championships. Thackston is also an Academic All-American.
“I chose OSU because it felt like home the second I stepped in the gym.”