No. 6 Ohio State Heads to Iowa for 2012 Big Ten Championships
Danny Steiner

April 5, 2012

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Championship Central

COLUMBUS, Ohio- The No. 6 Ohio State men's gymnastics team will compete at the 2012 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships this weekend at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Big Ten Network will air the 2012 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships live with Mike Wolf on the play-by-play, John Roethlisberger as the analyst and Rob Brown on the sidelines. Start time for both nights are at 8 p.m. ET beginning with the team championships Friday followed by the individual event finals Saturday.

• Senior captain Ty Echard was named a 2012 Nissen-Emery Award Finalist this week by the College Gymnastics Association.
• The squad ranks No. 6 in the GymInfo national rankings released April 2 with a 345.467 four-score average.
• The Buckeyes are polled in the Top 10 in five of the six events.
• The Scarlet and Gray are third in the country on pommel horse with a 58.067 four-score average.
• Senior captain Ty Echard is sixth in the nation on pommel horse with of 15.150 four-score average. Sophomore Michael Newburger is tied for 10th overall (14.700).
• Echard helped the Buckeyes post a team record 61.05 on pommel horse March 9 on Senior Night vs. No. 4 Stanford after scoring a school record 15.9 on the event.
• Junior captain Blaize Monks is 16th on high bar with a 14.417, while freshman Danny Steiner is sixth in the nation on floor exercise with a 15.283.
• Freshman Larry Mayeris 12th in the nation on vault with a 14.933 four-score average.
• The Buckeyes posted a season-high 347.750 team score vs. Oklahoma Jan. 21 in the season opener at St. John Arena.
• The Buckeye freshman class claimed 24 Top 5 finishes in the 2012 regular season. Steiner led the 2015 class with 11 Top 5 marks.
• Ohio State began the season winning the 2012 Windy City Invitational Jan. 14 with a 344.500 team score.

Senior captain Ty Echardwas named a 2012 Nissen-Emery Award Finalist March 21 by the College Gymnastics Association. The Scarlet and Gray have produced a candidate to the award's finalists list 11 of the last 14 seasons.

Echard was named an All-American in both the 2009 and 2011 campaigns after placing third on pommel horse in both the 2009 and 2011 NCAA Championships. A two-time All-Big Ten honoree, Echard holds the school record on the event with a 15.9 set in his final meet at St. John Arena against Stanford March 9. Overall, Echard has won 12 pommel horse titles in his career.

Rustam Sharipov
, first season as head coach

Previewing the championships
"The guys are excited for this meet. Gymnastics is like a marathon during the season and this is like the finish line when you get to the postseason. I think they are excited to see where they will end up and it will be another rehearsal for NCAAs since I don't think we will have any changes with our lineup. It's going to be interesting and I know a lot of teams have gone through a lot this year to get to this point in the season."

Freshman Alex Nork
Previewing the championships
"I'm looking forward to seeing what the atmosphere will be like with all of the teams in one gymnasium. I think I've most improved on high bar and I've added another release and I've increased my dismount. I think the off week has helped our endurance to get us ready for this point of the year."

The Buckeyes notched a 344.500 team total to place third in a tri-meet against No. 1 Oklahoma (353.100) and No. 5 Minnesota (350.600) March 24 at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn. Head coach Rustam Sharipovwas pleased with the team's performance as the squad hit 88 percent of its routines during the competition.

Senior Ty Echard claimed his 12th career pommel horse title, collecting a 15.00 for first overall, while redshirt sophomore Michael Newburger scored a 14.50 to claim third place. Senior Mike Behles, who competed in his first meet of the season, tallied a 15.10 on rings to tie for second overall. Behles, a native of Wayne, Ill., then led the squad on vault to for fourth with a 14.90. On parallel bars, sophomore Misha Koudinov led the Buckeyes with a 14.80 to tie for third place, while freshman Danny Steinerplaced second overall on floor exercise with a 15.40.

The Buckeyes placed third at the conference finals with a 350.000 score last April at the 2011 Big Ten Championships in Champaign, Ill., marking the 24th-consecutive season the team has finished in the Top 4 at the conference championships. llinois won the title (355.550) for the third-consecutive year, followed by Michigan in second place (352.750). Penn State placed fourth with a 349.000 followed by Minnesota in fifth (344.400) and Iowa in sixth (339.300).

Highlighting the individual event finals was Brandon Wynn, who claimed the Big Ten title on rights for the second-consecutive seasons with a meet-high 16.100. Joining Wynn on the podium was Mike Behles, who claimed his first-career Big Ten title on vault, sharing the crown with Zach Chase of Minnesota with a 16.250. Behles is the first Buckeye to earn the conference title on vault since former Buckeye Daren Lynch shared the title during the 2000 campaign.

In all, five Buckeyes earned medals at the league event finals to be named to the 2011 All-Big Ten teams. For Ohio State, Wynn earned his third-career first team All-Big Ten honor, while Behles was named a first team honoree for the first time in his career. Also claiming first team laurels was freshman Kris Done, who placed second overall in the all-around competition Friday night in the team championships. Ty Echard and Jeff Treleaven were named to the second team All-Big Ten list, while Done was the Buckeyes' Sportsmanship honoree.

Ohio State was tabbed fourth by the Big Ten Conference coaches in a preseason poll released in December. Illinois was picked as the conference favorite, followed by Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State. Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa round out the preseason picks. For Ohio State, sophomores Kris Done and Misha Koudinov were named to the 14-member Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list.

Senior Ty Echard and junior Blaize Monks were named co-captains for the 2012 season. Echard, a two-time All-American on pommel horse, holds the program record on the event with a 15.9 set this year. Monks, a native of Noblesville, Ind., competed in three events for the team at the 2011 NCAA National Qualifer. He also placed eighth on high bar at the 2011 Big Ten Championship Event Finals.

The Buckeyes began the 2012 campaign with great success, winning the Windy City Invitational Jan. 15 in Chicago, Ill., with a team total score of 344.500. The Buckeyes, which included five freshmen making their collegiate debuts, won the pommel horse (59.700) and vault (58.600) events en route to their first Windy City title since the 2006 season.

The team claimed 13 Top 10 finishes including a first-place victory for senior Philip Onorato on vault with a score of 15.10. Three gymnasts for the Buckeyes started their season setting new career highs. Sophomore Brandän Jones set career highs on both floor exercise (14.7) and pommel horse (13.8). Sophomore Misha Koudinov rang in a career-high 15.1 on floor, while redshirt sophomore Michael Newburgerearned a then career-best on pommel horse with a 14.4.

The Buckeyes are led by first-year head coach Rustam Sharipov. A native of Kharkov, Ukraine, Sharipov was named the 2006 National Co-Assistant Coach of the Year, helping the Sooners claim the NCAA Championship. In 2008, Sharipov helped guide the team to a second national title and was named co-assistant coach of the year for the second time in his career. In 2011, he was named the CGA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year, leading the Sooners to a NCAA runner-up finish in the team finals at St. John Arena. Sharipov, who most recently coached the United States at the 2011 Pan American Games, has experience at the highest levels of gymnastics as both a coach and an athlete.

Sharipov brings with him the experience of three Olympic medals including two gold medals.

Joining Sharipov are assistant coaches Casimiro Suarez and Bob Gauthier. Suarez, a native of Havana, Cuba has coached at the junior, collegiate and international levels. He was named the Junior Olympic Coach of the Year in 2010 after being a U.S. junior national team coach since 2004. Suarez also served as Cuba's women's national team coach from 1991-1994 and was Brazil's women's national team coach from 1995-1998. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Oklahoma from 1998-2000. Bob

Gauthier was an NCAA All-American at BYU (1984-85) and has coached gymnastics for more than 20 years at all different age levels at various local gyms. He also has spent time as an NCAA collegiate judge for 11 years. Gauthier was a member of the USA Gymnastics' team from 1985-1988.

The Buckeyes will have a week off to prepare for the 2012 NCAA Championships April 20-21 in Norman, Okla.