Returning from the Big Ten championships with their 14th conference title, the No. 3 Ohio State men’s gymnastics team prepares to hit the road for the NCAA championships. The journey, however, might not be the only thing on the minds of the athletes, as the Buckeyes mourn the loss of former team member, Larry Mayer, who passed away Monday evening.
“We recently lost a member of our gymnastics family, and it was very hard for us,” said OSU coach Rustam Sharipov. “Larry Mayer was bright and a great athlete … Our thoughts go to his family and we are thinking of him. As for (the) NCAA championship, we’ve had some rough patches this season … but the guys work very hard and we are ready.”
Mayer, 24, graduated in 2015 with a successful season, placing 10th on vault at the Big Ten event finals and seventh on vault at the team finals. He also won vault with a 15.150 against Michigan, and tied for second place on vault against Penn State with a 14.900. He was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete.
The NCAA championships start on Friday at the Christl Arena at The United States Military Academy at West Point.
The championships qualifier begins Friday with two pre-qualifying sessions. The top three teams will advance to Saturday’s final session.
Last season, the Buckeyes advanced to the 2016 NCAA championships with a second-place finish at the NCAA pre-qualifier at St. John Arena. However, it was Oklahoma who took home the title with a team score of 443.400 points. Stanford finished second with 434.050, while OSU placed third with 433.050.
The Buckeyes will enter the championships ranked third in the all-around, second on pommel horse, third on rings, third on parallel bars and fourth on high bar.
“We’ve basically just been making sure that everyone is healthy and everyone feels ready to go this weekend, but we’re actually so prepared that athletes who haven’t competed much this season will compete during the qualifier to give other guys a break,” said junior Seth Delbridge. “We’ve had a great season, and I just want to do the best that we can to earn the title. If we all go in with this outlook, I think we’ll do great.”
OSU will compete in the first pre-qualifying session on Friday at 1 p.m. Team, all-around and event finals will take place on Saturday.