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Jan. 4, 2001

Buckeyes Usher in 2001 Season
The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team opens its 2001 season Saturday night, venturing to Minneapolis for an 8 p.m. matchup with Minnesota at the Sports Pavilion.

Noting the 2001 Buckeyes
Ohio State returns 10 letterwinners from last season’s squad and welcomes six freshmen to the fold this season. The Buckeyes lose five letterwinners from the 2000 team, but only three earned significant playing time.

Quoting Head Coach Larry Cox
* On Saturday’s meet: “I feel we are capable of competing well right from the gate this year. We won’t be using our strongest of skills or lineup, but we have a lot of depth and will continue to improve throughout the year.”

* On the impact of the freshmen: “Our freshmen are going to make a big contribution this season. We’re not using them as much in this meet as we will later on. I want them to get some experience but not feel like we’re leaning on them.”

* On Minnesota: “Minnesota is a very good team and probably the best time for us to meet them is early and well prepared.”

Who’s Back?
Two-time All-America Lindsey Vagedes highlights the 10 letterwinners returning this season and will be the Buckeyes’ leading all-arounder. 2000 NCAA Championships participant Jill Tucker (floor exercise) also returns, as does All-Big Ten performer Mary Beth Doerr (uneven bars). Juniors Amanda Allen and Stephanie Buerkel are back as well and are being counted on for big scores.

Welcoming the New Buckeyes
Head coach Larry Cox has brought in a solid core of freshmen for 2001. Four of the Buckeye newcomers are expected to see action this weekend: Tiffanie Janke on beam and floor, Megan Porter on bars, Julie Levi on vault and Jenni Lymanstall on vault.

Wirtzberger Out For Season
After a stellar freshman campaign which included a trip to the NCAA Championships, Rickee Wirtzberger will miss the 2001 season with a neck injury, suffered in practice over the summer. Wirtzberger advanced to the NCAA Championships after tying for first place on floor at regionals with a 9.925 – a career best.

Who’s Gone
Five Buckeyes saw their eligibility run out at the conclusion of the 2000 season. Elizabeth Jensen, who competed in all but one meet last year on bars and beam, and Lacey Hudson, who competed in six meets on vault, will not return. Jill McMillon is another key loss. She competed in several meets on floor and vault. The Buckeyes also lost Gina Paoloemilio and Cynthia Molnar from last year’s squad.

Scouting Minnesota
Minnesota posted a 15-11 overall record and 5-4 mark last year in dual meets, ending the season ranked 16th in the nation. The Golden Gophers finished in third place at the Big Ten Championships and took fourth at the NCAA Region 4 Championships. The Gophers return nine letterwinners from last year’s squad, including 2000 All-Big Ten honorees Megan Beuckens (floor), MaryAnne Kelley (AA) and Leigh Dixon (vault). Freshman Annie Laatsch starred at the Gophers’ intrasquad meet on Tuesday, winning three events and the all-around.

OSU-Minnesota: The Series
The Buckeyes and Gophers are deadlocked in their all-time series at 7-7-1. The teams last met in dual meet action Jan. 31, 1998, when the Gophers captured a 193.500-191.575 victory in Columbus. The Buckeyes last defeated the Gophers in dual meet action Feb. 3, 1996, a 191.125-189.175 win in Columbus.

Noting the Gopher Head Coaches
Minnesota is guided by co-head coaches Jim and Meg Stephenson. The husband and wife tandem has guided the Gophers for three seasons, posting a 49-21-1 record.

Bucks Look for Improved Scores
After struggling throughout the 2000 season on uneven bars and balance beam, the Buckeyes are looking for a vast improvement this year. Last year, OSU failed to eclipse the 48-point barrier on beam eight times and on bars four times. With a freshman class which has much specialization in those events, the Buckeyes will have added depth this year.

Ohio State in the Rankings
Ohio State is ranked 24th in the preseason GymInfo Coaches Poll. The Buckeyes will square off with seven teams ranked in the preseason poll this season, including No. 18 Minnesota.

Keeping the Momentum
Ohio State came to life down the stretch of the season after struggling throughout much of the year, averaging a 194.544 over the final four meets. In the first nine meets, the Buckeyes averaged 192.853 with just one score topping the average of their final four meets.

No Stranger to Success
Lindsey Vagedes looks to cap her standout career with a bang this year. Vagedes earned All-Big Ten distinctions on vault, beam, floor and in the all-around last season, joining Michigan’s Sarah Cain as the only Big Ten gymnast to earn All-Big Ten laurels in four or more events. Vagedes is a three-time Big Ten individual champion, earning the vault crown in 1998 and 1999 and the beam title in 1999.

2000 Season In Review
After struggling throughout much of the season, Ohio State came alive down the stretch of the season, earning a bid to the NCAA Regionals – the team’s 21st straight bid to the postseason. OSU took fourth at the Big Ten Championships and followed it up with a strong third-place finish at regionals, missing by one place of advancing. Buckeyes Rickee Wirtzberger and Jill Tucker each advanced to the NCAA Championships as individuals, tying for the floor exercise crown with scores of 9.925. OSU also posted a school-record score of 49.450 on floor at the regional meet – the second-best score posted by any team competing in the NCAA Regionals.

OSU Head Coach Larry Cox
Three-time regional Coach of the Year Larry Cox heads into his 22nd season as the Ohio State women’s gymnastics coach. Cox has guided OSU to a NCAA Regional appearance in each of his 21 seasons at the helm and has produced four All-Americans. He has led the Buckeyes to five Big Ten crowns, six NCAA Regional titles, and six NCAA Championships berths. Cox began his career at Odessa (Texas) Junior College, winning the Junior College National Championship on parallel bars in 1975. He transferred to Arizona State in 1976 and won the WAC parallel bars title in 1977. That same year, Cox was a finalist for the Nissen Award, presented annually to the nation’s outstanding senior male collegiate gymnast. After graduating in 1977, Cox remained at ASU as assistant coach for the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams. In 1979, Cox became head coach at Ohio State.