March 30, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS - Ohio State successfully defended its conference crown at the 2007 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships, but not without giving the the fans at Minnesota's Sports Pavillion a thrilling title race. The Buckeyes came back from last place to take home its school-record third straight title at the 2007 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships hosted by the University of Minnesota.
With a career-best floor exercise performance from sophomore Eddie Hay to close out competition, Ohio State sealed its title hold with a team score of 217.750.
Penn State finished one-tenth of a point behind the Buckeyes for second, followed by the Gophers in third with 215.250. Michigan was fourth at 214.350. Illinois followed at 211.900, and Iowa rounded out the team standings with 209.900 points.
After the first rotation, Minnesota's strong performance on the rings gave the hosting Gophers a small lead over Michigan for first in the team standings. A few slips from the Buckeyes on the pommel horse put the reigning Big Ten champions in an unexpected spot: last place, after totaling only 33.45 points. The score put Ohio State 2.5 points behind leader Minnesota and was well off the team's nation-leading average of 35.467 in the event.
The Buckeyes didn't stay behind for long, using a season-best 37.750 showing on the still rings to jump a couple spots into fourth place during the second rotation.
Penn State's Derek Helsby's stellar 9.650 on the parallel bars during the team's second rotation helped the Nittany Lions quickly end the Gophers' stay in first place. The Nittany Lions scored a 37.350 in the event to leap frog Minnesota and Michigan for the top spot. Helsby helped Penn State hold onto the lead through the next rotation with another strong performance on the high bar. The junior's 9.100-worthy routine led the group to a season-high score of 37.350 in the event while tightening his grip on the all-around lead.
In the fourth rotation, the Buckeyes headed to the parallel bars and made their move to the top of the team standings. Junior D.J. Bucher led Ohio State to a 37.100 team performance that propelled OSU (143.800) to second overall, less than a point behind then-first-place Penn State (144.700). Ohio State moved into second place, within 0.900 points of the lead.
Going into the final rotation, Minnesota headed to the pommel horse with a 1.200-point lead while Ohio State took its title hopes to the floor exercise. Kit Beikmann (9.000) and Steven Vuong (8.700) led the Gophers on the pommel horse, but Ohio State blew away their season-high floor exercise score with a 38.250-performance to claim the title. Hay rounded out the Buckeyes' lineup with a career-high showing of 9.800 in the event.
Illinois' Wes Haagensen took home gold in the all-around competition, while more individual champions will be crowned tomorrow when the top eight finishers from each event compete on Saturday (March 31) at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.