Columbus, Ohio – Another year and it’s more high expectations for head coach Rustam Sharipov and the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team. For the fourth-consecutive season, the Scarlet and Gray have been picked by Big Ten coaches as the preseason favorite to claim the conference title.
“It’s a great honor to be picked as the favorite to win the conference title from coaches around the league, but we don’t really focus too much on the preseason rankings as a team,” head coach Rustam Sharipov said. “It’s one of those things that our student-athletes don’t really control, so we don’t spend too much time thinking about it.
“This preseason poll earns us nothing and we know that every year is a new year. Instead, we focus our energy on finding ways to push ourselves in the gym to get better on a daily basis and everything else will take care of itself.”
In addition to being Big Ten favorites, the Buckeyes enter the season ranked No. 3 in the preseason College Gymnastics Association coaches poll. Ohio State returns a plethora of firepower from last year’s NCAA runner-up finish and Big Ten title. The duo of Sean Melton and Alec Yoder will lead the way for the Scarlet and Gray, and they have been tabbed as Athletes to Watch for the 2018 campaign. Both men earned spots on the U.S. National Team this summer after stellar showings at the P&G Championships in Anaheim, Calif.
Yoder and Melton will serve alongside David Szarvas for the 2018 season at team captains. The three captains combined to take home six All-America honors at the 2017 NCAA Championships; Melton did so in the all-around, rings and the high bar, Yoder garnered his awards on the pommel horse and all-around, and Szarvas earned his on the pommel horse. Joey Bonanno also returns as a 2017 All-American; the rising junior was named an All-American on the floor with a sixth-place finish.
Ohio State’s season is officially less than one month away. The Buckeyes will begin their 2018 slate on the road in Colorado Springs, Colo., on the campus of Air Force on Jan. 13. The Scarlet and Gray will host three home meets in Columbus: a co-ed meet will be hosted at St. John Arena on Feb. 9 as both the men’s and women’s gymnastics team host Penn State. The first weekend of March, the Buckeyes will welcome Air Force to the Arnold Challenge (hosted at State Fair Ground) for a dual meet, and the final home meet of the season will be a head-to-head matchup with Oklahoma at St. John Arena (March 23).