January 27, 1999
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team will travel to Ann Arbor to face arch-rival Michigan at the Cliff Keen Arena (1,800) Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m
Ohio State is under the direction of 20-year head man Larry Cox. A 1977 graduate of Arizona State, Cox will bring a 202-96-2 career mark into this weekend. Beverly Plocki is in her tenth year of coaching at Michigan and boasts a 172-53 record. From 1992-1997, Plocki has coached six Big Ten Championship teams. SCANNING THE RANKINGS
Ohio State is ranked No. 11 in the NCAA National Rankings, which is now ranked by total season average. After that, teams will be ranked by their average team score in all meets. Last week, Michigan was ranked at No.12 and this week rose to No. 6. Teams are also ranked in each event. The Buckeyes highest event ranking comes in the vault, where they have posted the fifth best score in the nation thus far at 48.717.
In the all-important regional rankings, the Buckeyes rank third as a team,. The Buckeyes are third in their region in the vault, second in the uneven bars, and fourth in the floor exercise.
OSU’s Lindsey Vagedes ranks eighth in the nation with an average score of 9.833 on the vault this season. She is the only Buckeye ranked in the top 10 nationally. Regionally, Vagedes’ score ranks second. Mindi Farmer ranks tenth in the region on the uneven bars with an average score of 9.750, and Susan Eckman is eighth regionally in the all-around with an average score of 39.025.
TO BE THE BEST, BEAT THE BEST
Ohio State’s 1999 schedule is extremely grueling. The Buckeyes either have faced or are scheduled to face four of the top seven teams in the country (No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Penn State). OSU will also host No. 16 Denver in its next home meet, slated for Jan. 13 in St. John Arena. SERIES INFO
Ohio State is 13-10 all-time against Michigan State. This will mark the 24th meeting between the two schools.
COACH COX ON THE MICHIGAN MEET
“We can expect to see a much more seasoned and stronger team up in Ann Arbor,” Cox said. “They are a tough team to beat, especially in their own house. This will be a great test for us. They are ahead of us in the rankings and in the top 10.”
For the first time since 1992, Michigan will head into the season without the pressure of defending their former title, Big Ten champions.
“This years team is really focused and committed to putting in the effort to achieve our goals,” said coach Plocki. “I think we have it back.” Yet the Wolverines will need to have a solid performance, because the Big Ten continues to one of the toughest conferences in the country.
Several veterans on the squad will be looked upon to take action. Beth Amelkovich, who returns from a knee injury was a first-team All-American on the balance beam in 1997. “She has a long road ahead of her but I think she has the determination to come back,” said Plocki. Senior Nikki Peters, a first team All-American selection on the vault and uneven bars, is recovering from an ankle injury, but should be an effective competitor on the floor exercise, vault and uneven bars. Junior Sarah Cain returns after collecting second team All-American honors in the all-around in 1998. Cain was also the second place vault finisher at the Big Ten Championship, .25 points behind Lindsey Vagedes, the 1998 vault champion.
MICHIGAN LAST WEEKEND
The Wolverines posted their highest team score of the season, topping UMass-Amherst 194.675-190.875. Michigan was led by Bridget Knaeble, who finished in the top five on all four apparatus. Her 9.875 on the balance beam marked a career high and was good for second place. Sarah Cain was also impressive for Michigan, finishing first in the vault (9.850), the balance beam (9.900), and the floor exercise (9.875 – tied for first).
OHIO STATE VERSUS U of M – LAST TIME
OSU lost its season opener to No. 4 Michigan. Heather Kabnick led the way for the Wolverines by placing in three of the four events and winning the all-around competition with a score of 37.550. The Buckeyes were led by Vagedes who placed third in the all-around with a score of 37.150 and won the floor exercise with a score of 9.775.
LAST WEEKEND VERSUS MICHIGAN STATE
OSU won its first conference match of the season against No. 28 Michigan State 193.625-187.925. Vagedes took first place in teh vault, posting a career high score of 9.925. MSU’s Elisabeth Forshier took second, while Susan Eckman rounded out the vault competition (9.800) for third place. The Buckeyes swept the top four positions on the uneven bars, with Eckman taking first place iwth a score of 9.90. With a score of 9.850, Mary Beth Doerr took second place. In the all-around competition, Eckman took first place with a score of 39.025, shutting out MSU’s Melissa Green and Carolyn Hecht.
TWO WEEKS AGO – AT BOWLING GREEN
OSU won its first meet of the season against Bowling Green 193.975-191.950. Sophomore Susan Kinkaid took a first place victory in the vault scoring a career high 9.90. With a 9.850, Lindsey Vagedes placed second int he vault and the all-around (38.450). On the balance beam, Elizabeth Jensen took second on the balance beam with a score of 9.8.
Big Ten Champion Lindsey Vagedes was recently featured on the Big Ten website as the conference’s Web Athlete of the Week. Check out the full article on Vagades and her extraordinary debut season at Ohio State on the official website of OSU Athletics (www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com).
The 1999 women’s gymnastics team has a unique mix that has been absent in past years. From the freshman to the senior class, each gymnast possesses a special talent that will ultimately bring OSU its number one goal; a spot as one of the top 10 teams in the nation.
Head coach Larry Cox, in his 20th year, is excited about the combination of talent that his team brings into the gym.
“They know how to compete,” said Cox. “Their consistency and leadership in the gym will bring a lot of depth in each event.”
THE PERFECT BLEND
With a combination of skilled veterans and dynamic freshmen, Ohio State will compete against some of the top teams in the country. Their season opens at Alabama, who is ranked third nationally. Along with other Big Ten gymnastics giants Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and Minnesota, the Buckeyes will hope to prove early in the season that they can handle anything that comes their way.
Seniors Susan Eckman, Mindi Farmer and Jennifer Zwilling have continuously worked to increase their agility and technique.
“Susan is working on a new vault and bar routine,” said Cox. “By the time a gymnast reaches her senior year, she’s perfecting her routine, not reinventing the wheel.”
Farmer, who sat out some events with a injured foot, will also be back to dazzle the crowd with her stylish floor exercise and uneven bars routines.
“Mindi is focused on personal goals as well as team goals,” said Cox. “She wants to sharpen her talent and excel as well as push the team towards the same goal.”
Zwilling will specialize on the vault as well as the bars.
“Jennifer is stronger and much more competitive,” said Cox. “Her full potential should explode this season.”
Lacey Hudson, Lizzie Jensen, Jill McMillon, Gina Paoloemilio and Becky Wolfe make up a talented junior class. Their abilities to perform with grace and ease will enhance team performance and leadership.
McMillon posted a career high 9.70 on the floor exercise last year and a 9.75 on the vault.
Sophomore Lindsey Vagedes, Cynthia Molnar, Susan Kinkaid and Maggie Childers return with a more seasoned approach to collegiate gymnastics.
BUCKEYES RETURN ONE BIG TEN CHAMPION
Last year, Vagedes captured the Big Ten vault title and has returned to defend her position and post high scores in the all-around competition. With one year of collegiate competition under her belt, Vagedes has the drive and focus to compete at a more intense level than last year.
“A year of experience has made a difference in her routines,” said Cox. “She is ready to come back and focus on her talent.”
The freshman class seems to impress anyone who watches them in practice. Their talent and demeanor have made their teammates step back and watch in amazement.
“The freshmen are real competitors,” said Cox. “I’m impressed with their talent. It’s hard to say who will be a standout, because they’re neck and neck with each other.”
A PERMANENT HOME – ST. JOHN ARENA
To top off Cox’s enthusiasm for his team this year, is the fact that women’s gymnastics has a place to call home. St. John Arena will house both the men’s and women’s meets. The larger space brings larger crowds and more support to one of the most watched sports in America.
St. John Arena’s capacity of 13,276 makes it one of the largest on-campus gymnastics home facilities in the country.
OSU GYMNASTICS HIGHLIGHTS
Ten gymnasts have combined for 31 total individual Big Ten titles. Lindsey Vagedes became the latest in a long line of OSU greats when she won the vault crown at last year’s conference championship meet.
Donna Silber won 10 titles from 1978-81 and Mary Olsen claimed five crowns between 1981 and 1986.
OSU won the Big Ten team championship five consecutive years from 1983-87.
Ohio State has appeared in a national championship event eight times. The Buckeyes made the AIAW tournament in 1981 and 1982 and represented the Big Ten at the NCAA tournament in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989 and 1990.
OSU boasts three All-Americans – Kathy Temple in the all-around in 1982, Tracy Rinker in the uneven and parallel bars in 1983 and Julie Somers in the vault in 1987.
— OSU —