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Men’s gymnastics: No. 3 Buckeyes to compete in Winter Cup Thursday, Saturday

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OSU redshirt junior Sean Melton prepares for his parallel bars routine, chalking up the bars for better grip. Melton and the Buckeyes competed against the Michigan Wolverines at the St. John Arena on Feb. 4. Credit: Aaron Tomich | For The Lantern

Four Buckeyes will compete in the 2017 Winter Cup, including former gymnast and current director of operations Drew Moling, redshirt junior Sean Melton, sophomore Alec Yoder and future Buckeye and high-school senior Max Andryushchenko. The competition will take place on Thursday with finals on Saturday in the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino.

The scheduled times of the Winter Cup vary per athlete. Andryushchenko will compete at 4 p.m. ET while Melton, Yoder and Moling compete at 9:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. Finals will take place on Saturday at 10:15 p.m. ET.

Performances at the Winter Cup will determine which 15 athletes, country-wide, will join the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team. Following the two-day competition, the top-four ranked all-around athletes will automatically qualify.

The Men’s Program Committee selects up to 11 more gymnasts participating in the Winter Cup and members of the 2016 US Olympic team, including alternates, to keep their spot on the national team provided they earn qualifying national scores both days of the competition.

After the 2016 Winter Cup, Melton was placed in U.S. Senior National Team following his third-place performance in all-around. Melton posted an overall score of 174.500, finishing behind three-time U.S. all-around champion Sam Mikulak (177.450) and 2015 NCAA all-around champion Akash Modi (175.300) from Stanford.

Although he is still recovering from a wrist injury sustained during the 2016 preseason, Melton has not backed down and is ready to hit the floor again.

“I’m going out there and showing all the USA committee that I’m back and I’m recovering. I’m not 100 percent back, but I’m getting there and I’ve improved on events that I’m doing,” Melton said. “I’m in good shape, and they could use me on Team USA to compete and help represent our country. I’m just excited to show what I’ve been working on since trial — and that I never gave up.”

Yoder finished ninth overall in the 2016 Winter Cup, with a score of 170.700. He was placed in the all-around top-10 at the competition in the past two seasons — an eighth-place performance in 2015 placed him on the U.S. Senior National Team.

“I’m looking forward to just getting out there again and competing,” Yoder said. “That’s why I do this sport. I do it because it’s fun and I do it because it’s what I love.”

Moling, the current director of operations for the team, was 23rd overall with a combined all-around total of 162.750. Moling finished 16th on both rings (28.550) and high bar (27.850) at the 2016 Winter Cup.

“After this meet, I’ll be done as this is the last one of my career,” Moling said. “I competed at this competition last year … and I did pretty well here; it qualified me to compete at the P&G Championship which is in the summer. Since I competed at the P&G, that pre-qualified me to compete at the Winter Cup this week. I figured I might as well come out and have one last competition.”

According to the all-around placements and Men’s Program Committee’s points ranking system, the top 42 gymnasts will advance to the final competition along with the top-three gymnasts of each event. The all-around and individual event champions will be determined by their combined two-day score.

OSU enters the week ranked No. 3 in the College Gymnastics Association (CGA) National Rankings, with the No. 3 average all-around score in the nation and a No. 1 ranking on pommel horse with an average score of 69.575.

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