The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team is setting the bar high for its 2018 season, with Big Ten and NCAA titles in sight.
The Buckeyes are trying to qualify for the Big Ten championships for the third year in a row. And after finishing as NCAA runner-ups last year, Ohio State is trying to capture its first NCAA championship since 2001.
“My sophomore year, we got third [in the NCAA Conference], last year, we got second and this year, our team is in pretty good shape,” senior Seth Delbridge said. “Everyone is doing pretty well, so I think we all have it in our heads that we could contend for a national title.”
With five new freshman on their 24-person active roster, the Buckeyes are focusing on being team oriented to reach their goals.
“The preseason really is kind of a time for us, as a team, to grow,” said Drew Moling, the team’s director of operations. “We’re really trying to help our student athletes and this team to create that bond, for this year.”
Ohio State will have two new talented freshman join its roster. Sean Neighbarger and Max Andryushchenko are newcomers to look out for. Both competed at the P&G U.S.A. National Championships over the summer.
Some returning key players, and this year’s team captains, competing as all-around athletes, are Delbridge, senior Sean Melton and junior Alec Yoder.
In addition to competing for the Buckeyes, Melton and Yoder are also currently on the USA Men’s Senior National Team, and both competed alongside Neighbarger and Andryushchenko at the P&G National Championships.
“Those four, who were training together this summer, were competing together, so I think those guys are really going to kind of bring some leadership, from competing at the U.S.A. level, to this team and beyond,” Moling said.
Moleing said some major competitors in the Big Ten are Illinois and Minnesota, the second- and third-place finishers in the conference, respectively. In the NCAA, OSU’s biggest competition is Oklahoma. The Sooners are three-time defending NCAA champions and remain the team to beat this season.
“They want to win,” Moling said. “Like I said, it’s been 2001 since we’ve brought home an NCAA championship, and this team is super hungry for that this year.”
To up their game and prepare for the challenge of the season to come, the Buckeyes are looking to increase strength and endurance by incorporating more conditioning workouts, both before and after their event practices.
“At the end of the day, if we hit our routines and we do our job, I think we’re going to, hopefully come out on top.”
After an intrasquad scrimmage Nov. 18, the Buckeyes will be back in action with another exhibition Jan. 6. The Alumni Exhibition starts at 2 p.m. at St. John Arena.