COLUMBUS, Ohio – The sixth-ranked Ohio State men’s gymnastics team dropped a 434.400-431.300 decision to No. 3 Illinois Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 1,942 at St. John Arena.
Ohio State won four events as a team – high bar, vault, parallel bars and pommel horse – and posted the top team score in the nation this season on high bar (74.100).The Buckeyes improved significantly from a difficult week one competition at the Windy City Invitational and performed well as a team, even without the services of redshirt junior All-American Jake Martin and sophomore Jake Dastrup. Additionally, sophomore All-American Sean Melton saw limited action for the Scarlet and Gray, competing in only two events.
Seniors Larry Mayer and Alex Nork delivered individual titles for the Buckeyes on vault and pommel horse, respectively. Mayer’s mark of 15.250 ranks second in the nation so far this season, while Nork’s winning total of 14.900 on pommel is a career best.
“I thought our guys rebounded well from a tough start tonight,” head coach Rustam Sharipov said after the meet. “We won four events as a team, an accomplishment considering the lineup changes we faced before and during the meet. I saw a lot of improvement from last week to this week.”
Ohio State collected an early 71.000-69.700 lead over the Fighting Illini as the Buckeyes opened on floor exercise and the Illini on pommel horse. OSU was led on floor by a third-place score of 14.550 from senior Danny Steiner. Redshirt junior Andrew Teal was fifth with a score of 14.250, while Melton and freshman Meyer Williams tied for sixth (14.100).
Illinois would gain a slim 141.950-141.550 advantage after the second rotation as the teams traded apparatuses. Ohio State’s team total of 70.550 featured Nork’s first-place finish and a runner-up performance by Melton (14.750). Sophomore Logan Melander was the next highest finisher, taking seventh with a personal-best mark of 13.900.
The Illini extended their lead to 214.500-212.950 after the third rotation, which featured Illinois on vault and the Buckeyes on rings. Ohio State placed two athletes in the Top 5 – senior Drew Moling (second, 15.400) and freshman Cody Teaney (14.900) – on its way to a team total of 71.400.
Illinois gained some separation from the Buckeyes with an impressive 75.650 score on rings in the fourth rotation, boosting its lead to 290.150-286.100 after OSU turned in a team total of 73.150 on vault. Mayer was the individual winner on vault, with freshman Alexander Wilson placing third (14.900) and Teal tying for fourth with a score of 14.650.
The Illini lead grew to 364.000-357.200 after the fifth rotation, which featured UI on high bar and OSU on parallel bars. The Buckeyes totaled a team score of 71.100 on parallel bars on the heels of three athletes finishing in the Top 5. Sophomore Andrew Rickly was third with a score of 14.450, Nork fourth (14.400) and Moling fifth (14.200).
The Scarlet and Gray staged a valiant comeback in the final rotation thanks to its NCAA-leading team performance of 74.100 on high bar. Nork and Moling earned a second-place tie with scores of 15.250, a personal best for Moling. In addition, Rickly placed fifth with a mark of 15.000, just shy of personal best.
Next up, Ohio State travels to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, next Sunday, Feb. 1, for a tri-meet with host and ninth-ranked Iowa and the No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. The meet is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET.
Top 3 by Event
3. Danny Steiner – 14.550
5. Andrew Teal – 14.250
T-6. Meyer Williams – 14.100
T-6. Sean Melton – 14.100
1. Alex Nork – 14.900
2. Sean Melton – 14.750
7. Logan Melander – 13.900
2. Drew Moling – 15.400
5. Cody Teaney –14.900
9. Alexander Wilson – 13.900
1. Larry Mayer – 15.250
3. Alexander Wilson – 14.900
T-4. Andrew Teal – 14.650
3. Andrew Rickly – 14.450
4. Alex Nork – 14.400
5. Drew Moling – 14.200
T-2. Alex Nork – 15.250
T-2. Drew Moling – 15.250
5. Andrew Rickly – 15.000