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Feb. 19, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio-The No. 21 Ohio State women’s gymnastics team (5-3, 2-1), winners in five of its last six, will travel to State College, Pa. to take on No. 18 Penn State (7-5) in a Big Ten co-ed showdown at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Buckeyes are 15-20 all-time against the Nittany Lions, winning the last meet between the two schools, 195.350-194.700, Jan. 27, 2001. The meet will be coed with the men as No. 2 Ohio State squares off against No. 1 Penn State.

Buckeyes Move Up To No. 21
After a loss to No. 5 Nebraska Friday and a victory over Pittsburgh Sunday, the Buckeyes moved up to No. 21 in the latest national rankings released by GymInfo. Ohio State has posted an average score of 194.661 and a season-high score of 196.050. Other Big Ten teams in the Top 25 include Michigan (10), Iowa (17), Penn State (18) and Minnesota (22).

The Buckeyes also moved up a spot to No. 5 in the latest GymInfo Central Region poll.

Quote From Coach Cox
“Penn State is always tough competition. As a team we mirror each other so it will be another tough contest this year. Penn State will have the advantage being at home, but our team is really stepping things up a notch on the road so I’m looking forward to the competition.”

A Look At The Nittany Lions
The 7-5 Nittany Lions are having a successful season counting their demanding schedule. After placing fifth in the Super Six Challenge which included Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida, all whom were ranked in the Top 15 at the time, Penn State managed to edge out Oklahoma by 1.100 for the fifth spot. Since the Super Six Challenge, the 18th ranked Nittany Lions have won six of their last seven meets, losing only to then-No. 15 Oklahoma.

Senior Katie Rowland has been the driving force behind Penn State this year with her athleticism on the mat. In the Nittany Lions last meet against West Virginia and Rutgers, Rowland, who is ranked No. 4 in the nation on vault, set a school and personal record by scoring a perfect 10.000 on vault. She is the leading scorer in the all-around for Penn State and ranked No. 31 in the nation with an average all-around score of 39.187. Last year, Rowland won the Big Ten all-around championship with a 39.500 and also took first place on vault (9.950) and scored a 9.900 on both floor and beam.

Entering his 11th season as head coach of the Nittany Lions, Steve Shephard has complied a record 133-94 entering Saturday’s matchup against Ohio State. Shephard has had seven NCAA Championships appearances along with eight NCAA Regional Championships in his eleven seasons at Penn State.

Buckeye Notes
With Ohio State’s 5-3 overall record, the Buckeyes, No. 21 in the country, have already surpassed their total number of victories last year when they went an uncharacteristic 3-15. The Buckeyes started the year with a loss at then-No. 6 Michigan and have since reeled off five wins against their last seven opponents and four of their last five in dual meet competition. Last week they set their highest point total of the season in a win at Pittsburgh by recording a score of 196.050.

Part of the Buckeyes’ success is due to the consistent performance by freshman Jill Weber. In Weber’s eight collegiate meets, she has put up outstanding scores which includes scoring team and personal season bests on vault (9.975), beam (9.900), uneven bars (9.875) the floor exercise (9.925) and the all-around (39.400). The only meet Weber has failed to place first in at least one event was against then-No. 6 Michigan on Jan. 11.

Senior Rickee Wirtzberger found a way to leave her mark in Ohio State history against Ball State (2-8) after she posted a career-high perfect 10 on floor exercise which also set the Buckeyes school record. Wirtzberger also earned Big Ten Female Gymnast of the Week honors for her performance. The previous floor exercise record of 9.950 has been tied numerous times with the latest being by senior Sarah Spring and sophomore Laura Sommerville, who last tied the record in 2002. Ohio State is currently ranked No. 17 in the nation on floor with an average score of 49.021.

Freshman Shelby Warner has also opened eyes as of late. The Fenton, Mich. native has scored a 9.900 twice already in her young career on floor exercise and recorded a season-high 39.075 in the all-around against Michigan State Jan. 25.

Tiffanie Janke and Elizabeth Meaney also have had strong contributions of late. Janke and Meaney finished first and second, respectively, against Nebraska on beam. Meaney posted a 9.950 and Janke a 9.925 vs. the Huskers. Janke then turned in a 9.950 on beam in a win at Pittsburgh.

In other events, the Buckeyes are nationally ranked No. 27 on vault with an average score of 48.636, No. 30 in uneven bars with an average score of 48.407 and No. 15 on beam with an average score of 48.596.

Last Time vs. Penn State
The Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions in the last meeting between the two schools, 195.350-194.700 in Columbus, Ohio Jan 27, 2001. Ohio State, ranked No. 7 at the time, defeated then-No. 16 Penn State with a solid all-around effort by Lindsey Vagedes, who took second in the all-around with a season best 39.35. She also took runner-up honors on balance beam and floor exercise scoring a 9.825 on both.

Penn State’s Katie Rowland captured the all-around title, recording a score of 39.450 to edge Vagedes by a tenth of a point. Rowland also took first on floor and beam with scores of 9.875 in both events and tied for first on vault (9.875).

OSU Continues Road Show
After a victory over Pittsburgh Sunday, Ohio State will remain on the road for the next two meets against No. 18 Penn State Saturday, Feb. 22 and No. 26 Utah State Friday, Feb. 28.

The Buckeyes return home Saturday, March 8 to host the All-Ohio Championships.

Following the All-Ohio Championships, the Buckeyes final regular season meets will be at No. 19 Kent State March 14 and No. 26 Utah State March 22 in St. John Arena.

After Ohio State’s competitive regular season is over, the Buckeyes will head to Champaign, Ill. for the Big Ten Championships March 29.

The NCAA Regional meet will be held April 12 with a site to be determined. The NCAA Championships will be held in Lincoln, Neb. April 24-26.

Nebraska Recap
The Buckeyes fell to No. 5 Nebraska Friday, 195.575-196.700 despite a career-high all-around score of 39.400 by Jill Weber.

Although Ohio State fell to the Huskers in every event, the Buckeyes came closest on bars, setting a team season high score of 49.100. Nebraska posted a 49.150.

Freshman Kaylin Schlecht led the way for Ohio State with a 9.850 which tied her personal-best. Junior Megan Porter and sophomore Shelley Harris also tied their career-best with scores of 9.825.

Sophomore Elizabeth Meaney had a career-best performance on beam posting a personal-high 9.950. In addition, Schlecht and Weber had career-best performances with scores of 9.775 and 9.825, respectively.

Weber and junior Tiffanie Janke paced the Buckeyes on vault both earning a 9.850. On floor exercise, Meaney posted a 9.875 followed by a 9.825 by Weber. Janke also added a 9.775.

Pittsburgh Recap
Jill Weber posted a 9.900 on vault and beam and Tiffanie Janke posted a 9.950 and 9.850 on beam and vault, respectively, as the Buckeyes defeated Pittsburgh Sunday, 196.050-195.225, in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Buckeyes won three of the four events and posted four scores of 9.900 or better to give them their highest point total of the season.

Weber, Kaylin Schlecht and Shelby Warner swept the top three spots in the all-around. Weber finished first with a 39.350, Schlecht a 39.125 and Warner a 39.025. Elizabeth Meaney had another strong showing for the Buckeyes, posting a 9.900 on beam, a 9.825 on the vault and a 9.800 on the floor exercise.

The Buckeyes were strongest on beam, recording a season-high score of 49.375. Janke led the way with her 9.950 and was followed by Meaney and Weber with a 9.900 each. Schlecht rounded out the scoring on beam with a 9.825.

Wirtzberger Receives Big Ten Honor
Senior Rickee Wirtzberger was selected as the Big Ten Women’s Gymnast of the Week for her performance against Ball State Saturday, the Big Ten announced Wednesday. The 2002 Academic All-Big Ten selection is the first Buckeye to win the honor this season.

Wirtzberger established a school record and equaled the Big Ten record with a perfect 10.000 score on the floor exercise in the Buckeyes’ 195.500-192.875 win over Ball State and helping the Buckeyes capture their fourth-consecutive win. Wirtzberger shattered the previous school record of 9.950 with the best performance of her career. She also helped OSU set a season-high team score on the floor exercise with a 49.525.

Fagan Joins Coaching Staff
Carey Fagan, a native of North Canton, Ohio, was added to the women’s gymnastics coaching staff in early December. Fagan graduated from Penn State in 1998 where she was a four-year member of the gymnastics team. While at Penn State, Fagan was a three-year letterwinner, serving as captain her senior year in 1998. Fagan was a member of the NCAA Northeast regional championship team from 1995-1998 and competed at the NCAA championships in 1995, 96 and 98. In high school, she was a member of the 1993 Region Five Level 9 National Team and was a U.S. Championship qualifier in 1991.

Follow The Buckeyes Online
Information on the Ohio State women’s gymnastics team and the 35 other Buckeye sports is available online at the official website of the Ohio State Athletic Department, ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

Next Up
The Buckeyes travel to Logan, Utah Friday, Feb. 28 to take on Utah State. The meet is slated the begin at 7 p.m. Ohio State then returns home for the All-Ohio Chapionships Saturday, March 8 at St, John Arena.