Jake Bateman, Philip Onorato place seventh and ninth, respectively, at Winter Cup Challenge

COLUMBUS, Ohio Senior Jake Bateman and freshman Philip Onorato of the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team finished in seventh and ninth place, respectively, at the first of two qualifying sessions at the 2009 Winter Cup Challenge Thursday. In all, seven members of Scarlet and Gray squad competed at the qualifier.

“As a group, the guys did well,” Miles Avery, Ohio State head coach, said. “I was really happy and it bodes well for the future. I’m really happy with Philip finishing as high as he did he’s a performer. Steven (Spencer) did what we expect him to do on pommel horse and hopefully he gets a second chance to compete Saturday.”

After the second qualifying round held Thursday evening, the Top 42 gymnasts will be selected on the basis of an approved points ranking system by the Men’s Program Committee. Those athletes will move on to the Winter Cup Challenge finals at 9:30 p.m. EST Saturday at the Las Vegas Sports Center in Las Vegas.

Competing in the all-around, Bateman scored an 84.7, including five Top 10 finishes while Onorato recorded an 83.7 with the help of a second-place finish on vault, tying Illinois sophomore Paul Ruggeri with a 16.0. Sophomore Brandon Wynn finished 12th in the all-around with an 82.65.

The Ohio State student-athletes started the qualifying session on floor. Bateman, a two-time captain for the Buckeyes, scored a 14.3 to tie for sixth on floor while Onorato, a native of Plano, Texas, posted a 14.2 to tie for ninth. In the second rotation, redshirt-freshman Steven Spencer showed his prowess on pommel horse, tallying a season-best 14.75 to place second on the event.

Wynn, who reigns from Voorhees, N.J., showed his strength on rings, posting a 14.7 to end the competition in fourth. In addition, Bateman had a 14.65 to tie for fifth while Onorato scored a 16.5 for ninth (tied) in the third rotation. Overall, the Buckeyes had a strong performance on vault. Behind Onorato’s second-place finish on the event, Ohio State had Bateman finish fourth with a 15.7, senior Pejman Ebrahimi placed sixth with a 15.45 and Wynn tied for eighth with a 15.35.

In his final two Top 10 finishes, Bateman scored a 14.0 (ninth) on parallel bars and a 14.3 (sixth) on high bar.

Senior Eddie Hay and junior captain Tai Lee also competed at the event for the Buckeyes.

After the Winter Cup Challenge finals, seven gymnasts will be named to the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team based on the national team points ranking system and one each will be selected by the Men’s Program Committee and men’s national team coordinator.

The six members of the 2008 U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Olympic Team can petition for spots, and the Men’s Program Committee will name additional members to the senior national team if any Olympic positions are unused. The 15 gymnasts named to the team will comprise the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team until the 2009 Visa Championships in August.