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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team commences the 2011 campaign with a matchup against No. 23 Minnesota at 4 p.m. Saturday at St. John Arena. The meet will be streamed live on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

The Buckeyes enter the season with eight returning letterwinners including second team All-Big Ten performer and 2009 All-American Rebecca Best.

GYMNASTS TO WATCH
Senior Rebecca Best and freshman Sarah Miller were picked Gymnasts to Watch, as voted by the Big Ten coaches. A three-time All-Big Ten performer Best finished fifth in the all-around at the 2010 Big Ten Championships and led the Buckeyes with an all-around RQS of 39.025. Miller competed as a Level 10 Gymnast for four years, was the 2009 Region 7 All-Around Champion and placed in the Top 10 on beam, floor and vault at the Junior Olympic National Qualifier.

The Buckeyes were picked tied for sixth in the Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll.

SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GOPHERS
Led by first-year head coach Meg Stephenson, Minnesota returns 10 letterwinners off a 2010 squad that finished 25th nationally and posted a 195.000 regional qualifying score. The Golden Gophers finished tied for fourth at the Big Ten Championships last season.

ALL-TIME SERIES
Ohio State has a 17-12-1 lead in the all-time series with the Golden Gophers. The last dual meet between the two schools was a 195.520-193.900 Golden Gopher win at Minnesota in 2006.

HEAD COACH CAREY FAGAN
The Ohio State women’s gymnastics program continues to climb up the rankings under the leadership of Carey Fagan. In her seventh season at the helm, Fagan has produced two All-Americans and led the Buckeyes to five-consecutive appearances at the NCAA regional championships.

With Fagan as an assistant coach in 2003-04, the Buckeyes finished with an average team score that ranked No. 42 in the nation. In 2004-05, her first season as head coach, that ranking rose to No. 38, then the Buckeyes upped their position to No. 27 and qualified for the NCAA regional championships in 2006. Fagan earned her first Big Ten Coach of the Year award in 2007 and led the Buckeyes into the Top 20 at No. 19 before tying for 18th in 2008.

Facing a slew of preseason injuries, Ohio State may have started 2010 off slow, but the momentum it gained through the regular season helped the squad qualify for its fifth-consecutive appearance at the NCAA Regional Championships

The 2010-11 season marks Fagan’s ninth overall in Columbus – the first two as an assistant coach and now seven as head coach.

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 travels to Corvallis, Ore., Jan. 14 for a 10 p.m. ET meet against No. 8 Oregon State.