March 24, 2019

No. 9 Buckeyes Knock Off No. 4 Illinois in St. John Finale

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Emotions ran high as the No. 9 Ohio State University men’s gymnastics team entered St. John Arena for the final time on Sunday, and the team responded with a comeback victory over No. 4 University of Illinois Fighting Illini, 406.600-404.000, to cap senior night off with a victory on Sunday.

Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes opened the night on the floor with multiple solid scores, but Joey Bonanno shined brightest as he took to the floor for the final time in St. John Arena, scoring a team-high 13.950.

In the next rotation the Bucks attacked the pommel where David Szarvas tallied a 14.500 score, best on the team for the evening.

Ohio State took a 135.000-134.300 lead into the third rotation where Max Andryushchenko and Alex Wilson shined, but Illinois used a strong performance on the vault to take a 205.700-202.100 lead.

The Buckeyes chipped away at the Illini lead with strong vaults from Wilson and Dexter Roettker, but Illinois had a lot left in the tank and kept a 274.800-272.650 lead heading into the fifth rotation.

The Bucks proved that last week’s issues on the parallel bars were a learning experience with Alec Yoder and Angel Leon putting up strong performances to keep OSU in the thick of it, but knowing that a strong finish on the high bar was needed to send the seniors off properly.

With one rotation left, Yoder stepped up to the high bar with the Buckeyes trailing 404.000-393.35, and the rest was history.

Ohio State Buckeyes

“I’m really proud of this team,” head coach Rustam Sharipov said. “Over the last four weeks we’ve focused on the little things, and there are areas where we can improve, but tonight I’m proud of the guys and how they finished. We’ve had trouble on the parallel bars and high bar all season, but it feels like things are starting to click now. I’m proud of the seniors, they did a great job, and the rest of the team stepped up to make sure our last meet in St. John was a special one.”

Yoder took first place on the parallel bars in the meet, while Bonanno took second on the floor, Szarvas finished second on pommel, Andryushchenko took runner-up on the rings and Roettker’s career-high vault took third place.

The Buckeyes are off next weekend before heading to Iowa City for the Big Ten Championships on April 5-6.