Sophomore Brandon Wynn medals on rings, senior Jake Bateman places on 4-of-5 events

ANN ARBOR, Mich.  Freshman Philip Onorato headlined Ohio State’s stellar performance at the 2009 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Individual Event Championships Saturday, earning the coveted Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor while also placing second on rings (15.275) and vault (16.0). The Plano, Texas, native becomes just the sixth Buckeye to earn the conference’s rookie of the year honor and the first since senior teammate Jake Bateman was the honoree in 2006.

Bateman and Onorato earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades after placing third and sixth, respectively, in the all-around while Pejman Ebrahimi was named Ohio State’s Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree.

Joining Onorato on the podium for rings were sophomore Brandon Wynn in third (15.25) and Bateman in fifth (15.025). Bateman, who competed in 5-of-6 event finals, placed on four events, including floor (fourth), rings, vault (sixth) and parallel bars (sixth). Junior Shachar Tal recorded his first Top 6 league finish with a fourth-place 14.725 on parallel bars.

“The guys really did well in the event finals tonight and this will propel us into the NCAA championships,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach said. “Philip Onorato was awesome this weekend and really proved that he deserved freshman of the year.”

In all, Ohio State had seven student-athletes competing in the 2009 Big Ten individual event finals Saturday evening in the Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan campus.

In the first rotation of events, the Top 10 student-athletes on floor, pommel horse and rings competed. Ohio State was represented by Bateman on floor and rings, Wynn on rings and freshmen Ty Echard and Onorato on pommel horse and rings, respectively.

Bateman, who qualified for 5-of-6 events, started the night off for the Buckeyes, earning a 14.875 as the third competitor on floor. His tally would stand through seven more gymnasts as the fourth-best of the night. 

The Buckeyes put on a show in the rings finals, finishing second, third and fifth. Onorato started things off, earning a 15.275 on a solid routine to take the lead in the title race with only four competitors remaining, including two teammates in Bateman and Wynn.

Next up, Wynn, a sophomore from Voorhees, N.J., followed in scoring as he notched a 15.25 for his routine to sit in second. As the last Buckeye up on rings, Bateman tallied a 15.025 to hold fourth. However, Michigan’s Philip Goldberg, the final competitor on the apparatus, shook up the standings as he received a 15.325 to edge Onorato by the slimmest of margins, .050. In the end, Onorato took home second place followed by Wynn, the Big Ten’s top-ranked competitor, in third and Bateman in fifth.

Competing in his first Big Ten Championships, Echard scored a 15.0 on pommel during the team competition to qualify for the league event finals. The Lancaster, Ohio, native could not repeat his stunning performance Saturday evening but still tallied a 13.6 to place eighth on pommel horse.

During the second half of the Big Ten individual event finals, the Top 10 finishers from the team competition on vault, parallel bars and high bar competed. Ohio State had three gymnasts on both vault and parallel bars, as well as one on high bar.

Junior Justin Myers received a gem of a present, celebrating his birthday with a try at the parallel bars title. After the team competition, the Hinckley, Ohio, native was just one-tenth away from making the individual event finals. Upon arriving to Crisler Arena Saturday, Myers was notified that a gymnast had pulled out, making room for Ohio State’s two-time most improved honoree. Myers was the first gymnast up on the event and received a 13.85 for 10th place.

Tal was the next Buckeye to compete on parallel bars and turned in one of his best performances of 2009. The Rehovot, Israel, native produced a 14.725, his second-best tally this season. His mark of 14.725 was just three-hundredths shy of his season high and earned him fourth place. Bateman finished out the parallel bars competition for Ohio State, hitting a 14.525 for sixth.

On vault, the Scarlet and Gray had Bateman, Onorato and Ebrahimi up. Onorato captured his second runner-up finish of the night, tying his career high on with a 16.0. Bateman was the first to compete for Ohio State, recording a 15.675 for sixth as the second gymnasts on the event. Ebrahimi, the final competitor, posted a 15.5 to end the night in ninth. Iowa’s Geoff Reins won the event with a 16.125. 

Bateman, the lone Buckeyes to compete on high bar, ended the night in seventh with a score of 14.15, missing the podium by just five-hundredths of a point.

Ohio State has a bye week until it completes the 2009 season at the NCAA championships April 16-18 in Minneapolis, Minn.

All-Big Ten First Team
Luke Stannard, Illinois
Paul Ruggeri, Illinois
Geoff Reins, Iowa
Phillip Goldberg, Michigan
Thomas Kelley, Michigan
Chris Cameron, Michigan
Joe Catrambone, Michigan
Aaron Fortunato, Minnesota
Jake Bateman, Ohio State
Philip Onorato, Ohio State

All-Big Ten Second Team
Kit Beikmann, Minnesota
Russell Dabrtiz, Minnesota

Gymnast of the Year
Thomas Kelley, Michigan

Freshman of the Year
Philip Onorato, Ohio State

Coach of the Year
Yoshi Hayasaki, Illinois

Sportsmanship Award
Jonathan Buese, Iowa
Luke Stannard, Illinois
Phillip Goldberg, Michigan
Alex Quast, Minnesota
Pejman Ebrahimi, Ohio State
Josh Borromeo, Penn State