April 6, 2006


NORMAN, Oklahoma – At the first session of the 2006 NCAA Qualifier at the Lloyd Noble Arena on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., the No. 3 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team’s fourth-place finish knock the Buckeyes out of contention for the 2006 NCAA Championship. With a team total of 211.700, Ohio State is out of the running for the first time in 25 years.

The Top 3 teams move on to the team finals at 8 p.m. Friday. Stanford finished first with a 215.900, Penn State finished second with a 213.200 and Iowa rounded out the top three with a 212.425. Of the remaining six teams in the first qualifying session, Minnesota ended the meet in fifth (206.950) and William & Mary ended in sixth with a 202.025. The second qualifying session is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, and features California, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Temple.

“We didn’t have enough today,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “It was our goal not to finish fourth. It is very disappointing to break the streak of qualifying for 25-consecutive NCAA championships, but hopefully this will be a motivator for the young team for the 2007 season.”

Seven Buckeyes will return to competition for the individual finals on at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Arena. For Ohio State, Jimmy Wickham (So., Gulfport, Miss./Planet Gymnastics) advanced to the individual finals after finishing second on floor (9.400) and first on vault (9.525). Eddie Hay (Fr., Butler, Pa./Butler Gymnastics) will join Wickham on floor after tying for sixth place (9.250). Sophomore DJ Bucher (Mason, Ohio/Queen City Gymnastics) will represent Ohio State on pommel horse and parallel bars. Bucher finished fifth on rings scoring an 8.700. Kristopher Kline (Jr., Westerville, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics) advanced on rings and vault. Kline earned an 11th-place finish (8.825) on rings and tied for ninth on vault (9.050). Freshman Jake Bateman (Kingsport, Tenn./Premier Gymnastics) moves into the event finals on rings with a 12th-place finish (8.750) and high bar with a 9.250 sixth-place finish. After wining parallel bars (9.300), junior co-captain Nicholaus Searcy (Dublin, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics) returns on the event Saturday evening. Co-captain Willie Ito (Jr., Huntington Beach, Calif./South Coast Gymnastics) also returns after capturing first on high bar with a 9.600.

Ohio State kicked off the competition with a third-place finish on high bar with a team score of 36.200. Ito led the Buckeyes with a 9.600 on the apparatus to win the event. In addition, Big Ten Freshman of the Year Bateman notched a career-high and sixth-place finish of 9.250 on the event. Previously, Bateman had earned a 9.150 on high bar twice, the last time occurring at the Michigan duel (March 11). Juniors Kline and Grant Osborne (Fort Collins, Colo./Fort Collins High School) supported Ohio State’s effort by adding an 8.700 and 8.650, respectively.

The second rotation was a bye for the Buckeyes. In the third rotation, floor specialists Wickham and Hay paced Ohio State on the event. Wickham tallied a 9.400 to take second on the apparatus and Hay scored a 9.250. Kline and Osborne again added to the Buckeye squad’s total. Kline’s 8.950 and Osborne’s 8.775 boosted the team event total to 36.375. The second-place floor total of 36.375 is the third highest team score this season for Ohio State. After competing on two events the team had garnered 72.575 points.

The Buckeyes struggled on pommel horse in the fourth rotation. The team earned a 32.650 tying its second lowest score of the season. Bucher notched the team’s highest score on the event with an 8.700 to earn fifth place. Ito tallied an 8.050 and Kline earned an 8.000. After three events, the Buckeyes’ team total was 105.225.

Moving into the fifth rotation of the day, the squad earned a 34.700 on rings and a 139.925 after five events. The upperclassmen remained consistent for the Buckeyes as Kline noted the team’s top score with an 8.825. Sophomores Pedro Pineda (Galloway, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics) and Bucher tallied an 8.625 and an 8.500 on the event. Bateman earned the team’s second highest score with an 8.750.

In the sixth rotation, Wickham, U.S. National Champion on vault, notched the highest mark for the Buckeye squad and highest mark in the competition with a 9.525. Kline earned the second highest Ohio State score with a 9.050. David Ortiz (So., Cincinnati, Ohio/Queen City Gymnastics) and Searcy added to the Buckeyes’ 36.500 second-place event total. Ortiz scored an 8.975 and Searcy tallied an 8.950. Heading into the final event, Ohio State had earned 176.425 total points on five events.

Ending the afternoon on parallel bars, the Buckeyes earned a fourth-place team finish with a 211.700. On the apparatus, Searcy tallied a first-place finish of 9.300, scoring only .050 below his season high. Bucher added a 9.000 and Bateman earned an 8.500 to give the squad a 35.275. The 35.275 serves as the team’s second lowest event total on high bar in the 2006 season.