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Ohio State men’s gymnastics dominates at Big Ten championships

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The OSU men’s gymnastics team poses for a photo after winning the 2016 Big Ten championship. Credit: Luke Swartz | Lantern reporter

The OSU men’s gymnastics team poses for a photo after winning the 2016 Big Ten championship. Credit: Luke Swartz | Lantern reporter

St. John Arena played host to the Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships over the weekend, and the hosting team stole the show, grabbing the team title among a trove of other accolades.  

The No. 3 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team capped off a thrilling Friday night with a team championship, while also boasting two of the events’ top all-around scorers from a pair of Olympic hopefuls, redshirt sophomore Sean Melton and freshman Alec Yoder. Then, the following night, the Buckeyes collected all three of the major end-of-the-year awards and multiple event titles.

“I’m glad (the guys) have stuck with the process of what we’re trying to implement, and I think it’s very sweet to get these results,” said OSU coach Rustam Sharipov. “I think it’s a great reward to see them happy and, of course, they make me happy.”

OSU, which now owns 13 Big Ten championships, last won the conference title in 2007.  Coincidentally, this marks the first time since that year that the event was hosted by the Buckeyes.

A fitting coda to the big weekend came when the Scarlet and Gray had multiple individuals recognized for their successful seasons, including Sharipov, who won the Big Ten Coach of the Year award. Melton received the conference’s gymnast of the year award, while Yoder earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

The All-Big Ten teams were also announced. Melton and Yoder took home first-team honors, while sophomore Seth Delbridge and senior Alex Johnson received spots on the second team. Johnson was also recognized with the Sportsmanship Award.

Melton finished first in three separate events on Friday night, including rings (15.850), floor exercise (15.400) and parallel bars (15.500).  Yoder also put up impressive numbers on the night, finishing second on the pommel horse (15.250), fourth on rings (15.150) and fifth on high bar (14.100).

Melton, who is a member of the U.S. Senior National Team, earned the gold medal for his all-around performance, scoring a six-event high score of 89.75 en route to his first Big Ten all-around win. He is the first OSU men’s gymnast to win the all-around title since 2004.  

Yoder, meanwhile, finished in second place, putting up a six-event score of 87.55.

Despite being recognized for his solo performance, Melton remains focused on the success of the team.

“Anything individual is just another plus, but my main goal is the team title,” Melton said. “I’m going to enjoy it and I’m excited about it, but the team title is my No. 1 priority.”

In the individual championships, which were held on Saturday, the Buckeyes grabbed three event titles. Melton won the parallel bars (16.175), which is a new school record, and the floor exercise (15.450), while Yoder won on the pommel horse (15.225). OSU also had three second-place finishes, with Melton on the rings (15.100), Delbridge in the vault (13.325) and Johnson on the high bar (14.550).

Yoder said he finds pride in the team success and individual accolades while also taking in the emotion of the big stage.

“This is surreal, this is something that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” Yoder said. “I’m just so proud of this team and (I’m) just amazed with this whole experience.”

The Buckeyes are next set to have the benefit of competing on their home floor once again as they host the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships. OSU looks poised for a successful showing after dominating the conference championships, as six of the Big Ten teams it defeated ranked in the top 10 nationally.

The event is scheduled to be held April 15 and 16 at St. John Arena.

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