Ohio State gymnasts capture four national honors at 2009 championships

MINNEAPOLIS Highlighted by a second and third-place finish on pommel horse, the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team had three student-athletes in senior Jake Bateman and freshmen Steven Spencer and Ty Echard leave with All-America honors at the conclusion of the 2009 NCAA Individual Event Finals Saturday night at the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion. Head coach Miles Avery has tutored 22 All-Americans in his 12-year career at Ohio State. In all, the Buckeyes were represented by five gymnasts in the national finals.

“Tonight was a great end to this season,” Avery said. “There are not many freshman All-Americans and to have Steven and Ty finish second and third bodes well for the future of this Ohio State team.

“Jake is a great young man and we are certainly going to miss him as a representative of team and university. It is great to see him end his career as a two-time All-American.”

Ohio State’s first-year pommel horse specialistsTy Echard and Steven Spencer turned in their third-consecutive solid outing Saturday evening to earn their first-career All-America honors. Spencer, a redshirt-freshman from Fremont, Calif., executed the best set of his career, posting a program-high 15.475 to finish second while Echard, a rookie from Lancaster, Ohio, tallied his second-consecutive personal high, a 15.45, to place third. Illinois’ Daniel Ribeiro won the pommel horse title with a 15.575. In 2009, Spencer and Echard have helped the Buckeyes set three different event program highs, including the 57.55 scored at the team qualifier Thursday and the 58.35 notched at team finals Friday.

On rings, senior Jake Bateman capped his four-year career capturing his second All-America honor with a 15.25 on rings to tie Stanford’s Tim Gentry for fourth. The rings title was won by California’s Evan Roth with a 15.6. In 2008, the Kingsport, Tenn., native earned his first All-America honor in the all-around, placing sixth. In the same season, he garnered his first of two first-team All-Big Ten honors, finishing second in the all-around. Bateman leaves Ohio State as a 2009 Nissen-Emery finalist, 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and two-time captain. He has led the Scarlet and Gray in the all-around for the last two seasons and tallied the squad’s top marks on floor, parallel bars and high bar in 2009. In addition, Bateman excelled in the classroom. Majoring in biology, he became just the 10th Buckeye to earn CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine second-team Academic All-America and first-team All-District honors in 2008. He will leave Ohio State as a four-time CGA and OSU Scholar-Athlete, as well as a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

Junior Shachar Tal just missed earning his first national laurel with a ninth-place finish on rings. The Rehovot, Israel, native score a 14.675 and was just edged out by Bryant Hadden of Stanford who tallied a 14.725.

Eddie Hay competed the last set of his Buckeye career, finishing as a finalist on floor with a 13.775. The Butler, Pa., native leaves Ohio State as the 2007 Big Ten floor champion, a four-time letterman, as well as an Academic All-Big Ten, CGA and OSU Scholar-Athlete.

On Friday, sophomore Brandon Wynn earned his first career All-America honor with an eighth-place finish (87.45) in the all-around. The native of Voorhees, N.J., became the 20 gymnasts to receive the national laurel under Avery and the 43rd in program history.