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Jan. 17, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Buckeyes meet 10th-ranked Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. in St. John Arena Friday, Jan. 19. The meet will be OSU’s first home meet of the season. Saturday, the squad travels to Michigan to attempt an upset victory over the top-ranked team in the nation.

About The Meets
Ohio State and Illinois-Chicago met Jan. 13 at the Windy City Invitational. Ohio State came away with a Top 3 finish in the seven-team competition. Illinois-Chicago, who played host to the event, finished in seventh place. Ohio State last faced the Flames during the 1998-’99 season, defeating them 230.350-223.050 at home. This meet will be the first of the season for the Buckeyes in St. John Arena. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 19.

The Michigan Wolverines won the crown in the Windy City Invitational and held onto their No. 1 ranking. Ohio State twice defeated Michigan last season, taking one match in St. John Arena and another on Michigan’s home floor. The Buckeyes will not compete again for almost two weeks after the Michigan meet. Their next contest will be Feb. 3 when they travel to Champaign, Ill. to battle Illinois.

Bucks Drop to No. 3
The Buckeyes dropped to third place in the latest GymInfo poll following their third place finish in the Windy City Invitational. Michigan maintained its No. 1 ranking and Illinois jumped to No. 2 from its previous 8th place position. Iowa moved from 6th place to 4th in the poll, giving the Big Ten the Top 4 teams in the nation. Penn State and Michigan State round out the Big Ten contribution to the Top Ten. Illinois-Chicago, ranked No. 14 at the start of the season, moved into 10th place.

Noting The Windy City Invitational
The Buckeyes wrapped up the Windy City Invitational in third place with a score of 205.400. Jamie Natalie (Sr., Hockessin, Del.) claimed the floor exercise title and Daren Lynch (Sr., Londonderry, N.H.) tied for first on the still rings. Earnest Nelson (Jr., Rowlett, Texas) placed second on the vault. Sophomore Raj Bhavsar (Houston, Texas) took fifth place in all-around. Other notable Buckeye finishers included freshmen Jamey Houle (Enfield, Conn.) and Eric VanSickle (Hilliard, Ohio).

Meet Miles Avery
Miles Avery is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Buckeyes. In his third season at the helm, he led OSU to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships and a runner-up spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Before being named head coach, Avery had been an assistant coach at OSU for nine years. In addition to coaching at the collegiate level, Avery has also been on the coaching staff for many international competitions, including the 1998 Goodwill Games, the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and the 1994 World Championship.

Meet The Illinois-Chicago Coach
Illinois-Chicago head coach CJ Johnson has been the leader of the Flames for 27 years, amassing a 205-146 record. Johnson led the team to four consecutive NCAA Regionals appearances between 1994-1997. Last season, 11 members of the Flames roster competed as individuals in the Regionals, despite an overall 3-9 record for the team.

The 1972 UIC graduate has been involved in gymnastics for over four decades. He began in the 1960s at Proviso West High School and has experience coaching at the club, high school, collegiate and international level. He coached the national teams of Barbados and Ireland, and coached the USA team in the 1979 Hungarian Invitational.

Johnson has been named the Mideast Region Coach of the Year on four different occasions, 1980, 1988, 1994 and 1995. In 1972, he was given the Distinguished Service Award by the United States Gymnastics Federation, the second most prestigious award in the industry.

Meet Michigan’s Coach
Kurt Golder is now in his fourth year at the helm of the Michigan gymnastics program. Taking over an 0-11 team in 1997, Golder’s Wolverines transformed themselves into a Big Ten contender in only a few years. The Wolverines went 22-2 last season, their only losses being to Ohio State. Golder was named the 1999 National, Central Regional and Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts in the 1999-’00 season.

Golder lettered three times in gymnastics for the Wolverines from 1975-’77 and was a member of their last Big Ten champion team. After graduating, Golder coached at various levels, including stints at Michigan State and Iowa.

Holding Down the Homestead
The battle with Illinois-Chicago marks the first home meet of the year for the Buckeyes. The No. 3 Buckeyes will not enjoy much more regular season time on their home floor. The team only competes in St. John Arena two more times before the NCAA qualifier April 5. The Buckeyes play host to Michigan State Feb. 9 in a co-ed meet. Two weeks later, on Feb. 24, the Buckeyes return to St. John Arena to do battle with Penn State and West Virginia. The Buckeyes have won 12-consecutive meets at home.

Hosting The Championship
The men’s gymnastics team will have the honor of hosting the 2001 NCAA Championships in historic St. John Arena. The National Qualifier will be held April 5, with the National Finals April 6-7. The 13,276-seat venue will give many Columbus residents the opportunity to see top-level NCAA men’s gymnastics.

New Rules in 2001
Every four years, or quadrennium, the International Gymnastic Governing Council alters the routines and judging criteria of the sport, forcing gymnasts worldwide to learn different routines. The lack of familiarity with the new routines often leads to lower scores in the early meets of every quadrennium. OSU head coach Miles Avery predicts growing pains for every collegiate team, including the Buckeyes this season.

“It takes a little while to catch up with the new rules.” he said, “So it’s a little slow right now, but it’s a little slow for everyone in the world. Fortunately, this is a seasoned team. We’ll do well.”