April 2, 2008
Penn State's Rec Hall will be the site of this year's Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships on April 4 and 5. This year's event will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network starting at 7 p.m. ET on both nights. This event is one of the oldest among all conference sports as the first men's gymnastics champion was crowned in 1902.
All six Big Ten squads are currently ranked in the top 10 nationally heading into championships weekend. Penn State, last year's national team champion, is leading the way standing at No. 3 in the country. Illinois is ranked fifth, Michigan is sixth, Ohio State stands in seventh, Minnesota is eighth and Iowa rounds out the conference schools ranking 10th.
This year's championships will feature five of the seven individual champions from last year's event. Illinois' Wes Haagensen, last year's all-around champion and Gymnast of the Year, returns in hopes of leading the Illini to a higher finish than their sixth-place result in 2007. Last year's vault champion, Illinois' Tyler Yamauchi, also returns to defend his title. Minnesota's Kit Beikman (2007 pommel horse champion) and Ohio State's DJ Bucher (2007 parallel bars champion) and Eddy Hay (2007 floor exercise champion) will also attempt to defend their crowns.
Ohio State won last year's title, making it three Big Ten Championships in a row. The Buckeyes won the event with just 0.100 separating them from second-place Penn State. Ohio State has been dominant as of late in the annual Championships winning the title in five of the last seven years. Penn State and Illinois are the only teams to have beaten the Buckeyes during that stretch taking home championships in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Illinois has won the team title 23 times, edging out Minnesota who has won it on 21 occassions. Michigan has taken home 14 titles, Ohio State has 12, while Iowa and Penn State have seven and one, respectfully.