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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team takes on Big Ten foe Illinois at noon Saturday at St. John Arena. The dual meet will be the first meet televised live on Big Ten Network.

The meet will be OS”U”th day with an appearance from Brutus, balloon animals and a team autograph session. The first 250 Ohio State students will receive free pizza and fans will be able to register to win an iPad or iPod Touch. The iPod Touch will be raffled off at the end of the meet Saturday and the winner of the iPad will be selected at the final home meet of the season at 1 p.m. March 12 against Missouri and Pittsburgh. Raffle tickets will be available for the iPad at every home meet throughout the season.

The Buckeyes come into the meet with an average team score of 193.900 after defeating No. 23 Minnesota in the opening week of competition and falling at No. 8 Oregon State last weekend.

MILLER EARNS BIG TEN AWARD
Ohio State gymnast Sarah Miller earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after helping the Buckeyes upset No. 23 Minnesota, the conference office announced Jan. 10. The award marks the first such honor for an Ohio State gymnast.

Miller, from Collegeville, Pa., took the event title on beam with a score of 9.875 while tying for second on vault at 9.800 and third on floor exercise at 9.750. The 9.875 beam score ranked third nationally over the first week of competition.

SCOUTING THE ILLINI
Led by interim head coach Kim Landrus, Illinois enters the weekend with an average team score of 194.063. The Illini have finished second in tri-meets in each of the first two weekends of competition.

The all-time series between the Buckeyes and Illini is deadlocked at 13 apiece.

FUTURE BUCKEYES
Ohio State women’s gymnastics head coach Carey Fagan has announced the signing of three gymnasts to the 2012 squad. Sarah Grady of The Woodlands, Texas, Alexis Schmidt of Frankfort, Ill., and Morgan Zlotolow of Muttontown, New York will join the Buckeyes next fall.

“We are very excited about the class of 2011 and the talent and experience they will bring to the team next year,” Fagan said. “Each one of the athletes will bring her own unique style to the team and event strengths. We look forward to watching our future team members excel in their final year of Junior Olympic Competition.”

Grady, a student at The Woodlands High School who trains at Champion Gymnastics Academy, comes to Ohio State as a two-time Junior Olympic National qualifier.  In 2009, Grady earned runner-up honors on vault and balance beam at the Region 3 championship meet, and placed third on the uneven bars.  That same year, she placed 13th all-around nationally. She finished 10th all-around and second on vault at the 2010 Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament .

Schmidt, from United Gymnastics Academy in Illinois, finished 12th All-Around at the 2010 Junior Olympic National Championships. A student at Lincoln Way North High School, Schmidt is a two-time Level 10 Regional qualifier. She finished eighth in the all-around and third on vault at the 2010 Region 5 Championship meet.

Zlotolow comes to Ohio State from Gold Medal Gymnastics in New York. After sweeping the championship title on every event and the all-around at the 2009 Chicago Style Invitational, Zlotolow, from Syosset High School, placed 2nd on floor exercise and fourth all-around at the Region 6 Championship.  She was a member of the 2009 Region 6 National Team.

UP NEXT
Ohio State will travel to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons and Western Michigan at 2 p.m. Jan. 30.

2011 Women’s Gymnastics Bios

Rebecca Best – Sr. / Williamstown, N.J.
A three-time All-Big Ten selection finished the 2010 season as one of the Buckeyes’ best all-around performers…2009 All-American tied for fifth in the all-around at the 2010 Big Ten Championships en route to her third All-Big Ten honor of her career…tied for first with a 9.800 on bars against Minnesota…posted a team-high 9.775 on bars at Oregon State…also posted a 38.275 all-around total against the Beavers…2011 team co-captain…a textiles and clothing major.

Taylor Jones – Jr. / Edmond, Okla.
Buckeyes’ third-best all-around performer in 2010…2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and first team All-Big Ten selection…has performed on vault and uneven bars in both meets in 2011…tied for third on vault against Minnesota…a criminology major.

Nicole Krauter – Jr. / Carmel, Ind.
Named Academic All-Big Ten and an NACG/W academic award winner in 2010…posted a 9.775 on beam against Minnesota…finished second on beam with a 9.825 at Oregon State…2011 team co-captain…a medical dietetics major.

Casey Williamson – Jr. / Mansfield, Ohio
Came on strong as a sophomore in 2010 to compete in the all-around for the Buckeyes…has competed on the uneven bars in both meets in 2011, posting a 9.725 against Minnesota and a 9.625 at Oregon State…a psychology major.

Colleen Dean – So. / Sylvania, Ohio
Competed in all 16 meets as a freshman in 2010…named an OSU Scholar-Athlete…has led the Buckeyes in the all-around in both meets in 2011…placed first with a career-best 39.125 in the all-around against Minnesota…also placed first on floor exercise (9.825), secon on beam (9.825) and third on bars (9.775) against the Gophers…placed second with a 38.825 in the all-around and third on floor with a 9.825 at Oregon State…exploring majors.

Sarah Gillespie – R-Fr. / Yorktown, Va.
Did not compete in 2010 after tearing ACL in November…posted a 9.400 on uneven bars against Minnesota…a finance major.

Miranda Der – Jr. / Milpitas, Calif.
A transfer from University of Bridgeport…greatest sports thrill was winning Nationals as a team at Bridgeport…posted a 9.125 on floor against Minnesota…an international studies and anthropology major.

Victoria Aepli – Fr. / Dublin, Ohio
Posted a 9.750 on floor and a 9.600 on beam against Minnesota…competed on uneven bars (9.750), beam (9.025) and floor (9.600) at Oregon State…exploring majors.

Alex DeLuca – Fr. / Longwood, Fla.
Recorded a 9.700 on bars and a 9.650 on vault against Minnesota…came back to record a 9.650 on bars and a 9.075 on floor at Oregon State…a food business management major.

Sarah Miller – Fr. / Collegeville, Pa.
Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week Jan. 10 after she took the event title on beam with a score of 9.875 while tying for second on vault at 9.800 and third on floor exercise at 9.750 against Minnesota…the 9.875 beam score ranked third nationally over the first week of competition…competed on floor (9.775), vault (9.625) and beam (9.400) at Oregon State…exploring majors.

Melanie Shaffer – Fr. / Pittsburgh, Pa.
Finished second on vault with a 9.775 and tied for second with a 9.800 on floor against Minnesota…posted a team-high 9.700 on vault while recording a 9.725 on beam and a 9.650 on floor exercise at Oregon State…a biology major.