No. 8 Buckeyes, No. 7 Nittany Lions meet at 2 p.m. Saturday in State College, Pa.
COLUMBUS, Ohio The eighth-ranked Ohio State men’s gymnastics team (3-3; 1-4 Big Ten) will meet conference foe and No. 7 Penn State (7-2; 1-2 Big Ten) for a 2 p.m. dual Saturday on the road in Rec Hall. The Buckeyes will look to carry their momentum from the 350.8-333.05 victory over UIC last Saturday into their league meet while the Nittany Lions look to snap a two-meet losing streak on their home floor.
Ohio State’s last dual win over Penn State came Feb. 25, 2006. In the past two seasons, the Scarlet and Gray dropped its regular-season meeting with the Nittany Lions at home (360.55-353.05, Feb. 24, 2008) and away (218.15-215.6, Feb. 24, 2007). Both programs have been successful in recent years with Ohio State capturing the league title in 2005, ’06 and ’07 while Penn State won the crown in 2008.
Fans can track the progress of the Buckeyes via live scoring at OhioStateBuckeyes.com and gopsusports.com. Live scoring can be accessed on the men’s gymnastics schedule page on both sites and is free of charge.
BACK AT IT
Ohio State posted a season-high 350.8 to defeat No. 12 UIC (333.05) last Saturday in St. John Arena. The nonconference meet was the team’s first collegiate action since dropping a 351.95-349.05 decision to Illinois Jan. 24 in Champaign. With only three competitions under its belt, Ohio State owns the eighth-best team average in the nation with a 345.833.
Penn State returns to competition Saturday after a bye last weekend. After defeating Michigan at home Jan. 24, the Nittany Lions have dropped their last two Big Ten duals. Penn State lost a 345.85-344.5 heartbreaker at Minnesota Jan. 31 and fell to 1-2 in conference action after a 345.5-339.8 loss to Illinois. The Nittany Lions are ranked seventh in the nation, averaging a 346.2 team total.
OHIO STATE CHART TOPPERS
The Scarlet and Gray are receiving high scores from a plethora of Buckeyes this season. Ohio State is receiving production across the board with a different gymnast leading each of the six events. Seniors Jake Bateman and Eddie Hay lead on parallel bars and floor, respectively. Bateman is averaging a 14.75 on parallel bars while Hay, a native of Butler, Pa., owns a 15.3 average on floor.
Ty Echard, a freshman from Lancaster, Ohio, jumps onto the leaderboard after tallying a program-high 15.3 on pommel horse last weekend vs. UIC in his Buckeye debut. Junior Justin Myers, the team’s two-time most improved honoree, leads the squad on high bar with a 14.1 average, including a season-best 14.45 vs. Illinois Feb. 24.
Sophomore Brandon Wynn and rookie Philip Onorato are in a two-way tie on rings, each earning a 15.35 Saturday to tie the program’s individual event record owned by Wynn. Returning to the 2009 lineup after sitting out because of a neck injury last year, 2007 NCAA vault champion Pejman Ebrahimi scored a first-place and Buckeye-high 16.05 on vault last weekend to better Onorato’s 16.0 score on the apparatus recorded at the Illinois dual Jan. 24.
BUCKEYES IN THE RANKINGS
Ohio State owns two Top 5 event totals in the GymInfo national standings released Feb. 23. The Buckeyes hold the nation’s No. 2 ranking on rings with a 59.4 average and the No. 4 spot on vault (62.083). Individually, senior Jake Bateman and freshman Philip Onorato currently hold Top 15 rankings in the national poll. Bateman is tied for 13th on rings while Onorato holds 13th on vault.
ALL TIME VS. PENN STATE
Ohio State leads the all-time series with Penn State, 62-42, but competition between the two squads over the last decade has tightened. With Miles Avery, Ohio State men’s gymnastics head coach, at the helm, the Buckeyes trail the Nittany Lions, 5-6, and look to even the score this weekend.
The Nittany Lions are coached by Randy Jepson, a Nissen Emery Award winner, who is in his 18th year of service to his alma mater. A traditionally strong program in both the Big Ten Conference and NCAA, Penn State’s most recent credentials include the 2007 national title and 2008 conference crown. The Nittany Lions boast senior Casey Sandy, the reigning NCAA and Big Ten all-around champion, who has won seven All-America honors in his career.
Penn State is led by seven-time All-American Casey Sandy who recently set a Big Ten Conference record, earning a league-best nine career Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors. In 2009, Sandy has once again been the top contributor for the Nittany Lions, recording a season-high score of 90.0 in the all-around vs. Michigan Jan. 24. He leads the GymInfo national rankings in the all-around with an 88.917 average. Also on the team is Galloway, Ohio, native Miguel Pineda, brother of former Buckeye Pedro Pineda (2005-07). The rookie leads the squad on rings with a season-best 15.1.
SWEEPING THE TOP 3
Last weekend, Ohio State had a gymnast claim first on each event en route to a season-high tally of 350.8 and victory over UIC (333.05) in St. John Arena. On the night, the Buckeyes swept the Top 3 finishes on floor, rings, vault and parallel bars.
A crowd of 707 saw seniors Jake Bateman (floor) and Pejman Ebrahimi (vault), sophomore Brandon Wynn (rings) and freshmen Ty Echard (pommel horse) and Philip Onorato (rings, high bar, all-around) record meet-best tallies. Competing in just his third meet as a Buckeye, Onorato captured the all-around win, scoring a season-high 85.85. Wynn placed second in the all-around with an 84.5.
ON A ROLL WITH ONORATO
Freshman Philip Onorato is proving rookies can make a difference, helping Ohio State to a season-high team total of 350.8 Saturday after turning in two first-place finishes and a win in the all-around. Competing the all-around for the first time this season, the Plano, Texas, native scored a meet-high 85.85, placing first on both rings (tie-15.35) and high bar (14.2). His marks on rings and high bar were personal bests while he also set career highs on floor (14.6) and parallel bars (14.05). With a 15.717 average on vault, Onorato ranks sixth in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation on the event. His average is the second best by a Big Ten freshman this season.
ROOKIE WITH CLASS
In November 2007, Miles Avery announced the signing of Philip Onorato, the nation’s top recruit. In his repertoire, Onorato, the 2004 and ’05 Level 10 Junior Olympic all-around champion, brings routines tested at both the national and international level.
A native of Plano, Texas, has been a star in the gymnastics world since capturing the first of two J.O. Nationals in 2004 with top finishes on rings and vault. A year later, the all-arounder repeated as the junior national champion. In all, Onorato, a product of the World Olympics Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Plano, has collected six international, seven state and 13 national titles.
Ohio State head coach Miles Avery welcomed in one of the largest freshman classes in his 12-year career in 2009. With six fresh faces in the gym, the Buckeyes now have a 19-man roster. Reigning from five different states, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, the 2009 class brings a new look to the team.
Ohio State, which welcomes six new faces to the Buckeye program this season, has a tough schedule ahead with only two home meets in 2009.
The Scarlet and Gray opened the season on the road, taking fourth at the Windy City Invitational Jan. 17 and remained away with a conference loss to Illinois Jan. 24 in Champaign, Ill. The Buckeyes opened their home schedule last weekend vs. UIC with a 350.8-333.05 victory in their first collegiate competition in four weeks.
Ohio State now enters a three-meet road swing, facing reigning Big Ten champion Penn State, No. 1 California and No. 2 Oklahoma in three-consecutive weekends starting Saturday. Regular-season action ends with a home contest against No. 4 Michigan at 7 p.m. March 21. The dual in Columbus will be aired on the Big Ten Network on tape delay at 6 p.m. March 25.
Life on the road does not get any easier for Ohio State with No. 1 California and No. 2 Oklahoma on the upcoming schedule. After the conference clash with Penn State, the Buckeyes take flight for the sunny skies of Berkeley, Calif., to meet the top-ranked Golden Bears at 10 p.m. EST March 6. The following week, Ohio State travels to Norman, Okla., to take on the second-rated Sooners at 8 p.m. EST March 14 before closing out the regular-season at 7 p.m. March 21 vs. No. 4 Michigan in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes-Wolverine dual in Columbus will be televised by the Big Ten Network on tape delay at 6 p.m. March 25.