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Feb. 1, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State synchronized swimming team will host the Jessica Beck Memorial Meet at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The Buckeyes will welcome Michigan, Miami, Ohio and William & Mary.

The meet is in honor of OSU synchronized swimmer Jessica Beck, who died in 2005, in what would have been her senior year with the Buckeyes.

LAST TIME OUT – OSU TRI-MEET
Ohio State swept all three routines to win the 2007 OSU Tri-Meet Jan. 20 at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The Buckeyes scored 96 team points to finish ahead of Keuka (70.0) and Walsh (48).

In the solo event, Buckeyes Barbara Nesbitt and Carmen Moraes finished first and second, scoring a 91.833 and 87.500, respectively. In the duet routine, Ohio State again took the Top 2 spots. The pair of Ellen Hacker and Cate Stewart compiled 90.833 points for first and Jackie Mundy and Brooke Paul recorded an 88.667 to finish second. The group of Hacker, Moraes and Stewart put together a first-place effort with 92.167 points to finish atop of the leader board in the trio event. Classmates Nesbitt, Leah Pinette and Hannah Shively notched 90.325 points for second.

OWNING THE OSU TRI-MEET
In 15 years of hosting the OSU Tri-Meet, the Buckeyes have finished first each time. This season, the Scarlet and Gray recorded 96 points to finish ahead of Keuka (70 points) and Walsh (48 points).

HONORING Jessica Beck
Ohio State synchronized swimmer Jessica Catherine Beck died suddenly Sept. 15, 2005 from natural causes. Beck, 21, was a native of Richmond, Va., and would have been competing in her final year as a senior for the Buckeyes.

“Jessica was a ray of sunshine in our lives,” Linda Lichter-Witter, OSU head coach, said. “In her short 21 years, she gave and received more love from her family, boyfriend, teammates and coaches than most people experience in their lifetime.”

Beck began her career as a Buckeye in 2003 and made an immediate impact, helping the squad go 33-1 en route to a national championship title. During her freshman campaign, Beck and her teammates scored multiple Top 3 finishes, including a first-place finish at the OSU College Association Meet.

In her second year at Ohio State, Beck was a member of a Buckeye `B’ team that placed second at the North Regional championships, third at the OSU College Association Meet and fourth at the Collegiate National championships.

As a junior, Beck was a member of the first-place trio routine at the Maize and Blue Invitational and second-place trio performance at the Walsh Invitational. Most importantly, she played an integral role in helping the OSU `B’ team regain the bronze medal at the U.S. Collegiate National championships with her flawless execution of the vertical team lift.

Beck also excelled in the classroom, garnering Academic All-America accolades for three-consecutive years. Majoring in communications, Beck was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete award winner and was named to the Dean’s List.

“Jessica’s spirit continues to live on in each of us, guiding us daily to do things in the classroom and the pool that would make her proud to be a Buckeye,” Holly Vargo-Brown, assistant coach, said. Her gifts of friendship, respect and compassion, which we all feel she gave to us individually, will remain with us forever. We are truly blessed to have known and loved her.”

In loving memory and admiration of the many ways she touched the lives of her Ohio State family, the team’s pre-meet traditionally closed circle will forever be held open to allow a place for Beck.

Beck is survived by her parents, Joyce and Jeff Beck and her two brothers, Jeffrey and Jonathon. Beck enjoyed shopping and listening to music and had planned to work and live in New York City after graduation.

A memorial fund has been established in honor of Beck. To make contributions to The Jessica Beck Memorial Scholarship Fund, please send to: The Ohio State University Development Office, 709 Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43210

2007 OUTLOOK
It is nearly an entire new look for the 2007 Ohio State synchronized swimming team from one season ago. The roster is comprised of mostly young swimmers, which includes just four members from a Scarlet team that finished second at the 2006 U.S. Collegiate National Championships. Although there is a new appearance to the team, the expectations remain the same. Despite the youth that encompasses the Buckeyes, the host of freshmen will step into their roles immediately and will join forces with the veterans, vying for the program’s 25th collegiate national championship.

“The kids who have come into our program for this season really have a life of their own,” Linda Lichter-Witter, OSU head coach, said. “I’m very pleased because they have jumped in and are doing everything that needs to be done. They have surprised me and are quite a dynamic group.”

In addition to its four members from the Scarlet squad (formerly known as the `A’ squad), OSU also returns four swimmers to the Gray squad (formerly known as the `B’ squad), which finished third at the collegiate national championships behind the Scarlet team last season. In all, the 2007 roster is comprised of 11 freshmen, three sophomores, five juniors and one senior.

“When all is said and done, we could be the dark horse this season,” Witter, who earned her 400th-career victory last season, said. “Coming from a team that had to regroup, I think we could surprise a lot of people. Of all the national championships we have won, we can’t wait to get the 25th. It is a big one.”

SCARLET SQUAD
In 2006, the Scarlet team finished second, with 96.333 points, in the collegiate national championship and the trio of Ellen Hacker, Becky Kim and Carmen Moraes put up a first-place effort in the trio competition. This season, team Scarlet will seek its first win in the collegiate nationals since 2004 and its sixth title in eight seasons.

“Ellen Hacker has been doing an outstanding job running the Scarlet squad,” Witter said. “She has been nurtured by all this tremendous Buckeye tradition and now she is our last senior left for 2007. She is doing a great job getting everything done and setting wonderful examples.”

Overall, Hacker, Kim and Moraes combined for eight wins last season, including winning the U.S. Collegiate National trio championship. This season, Hacker and Moraes, along with Caitlin Stewart will form the newest triple threat in collegiate synchronized swimming. In addition, with the departure of the dominant duo of Carly Grimshaw and Chelsea Luker, Hacker and Moraes will shape the latest OSU contingent in the duet competition.

“Although we have been in transition, everyone has been showing they are true Buckeyes by doing what is best for the team,” Witter said. “We were uncertain of who would step up and fill positions in the beginning, but everyone has been doing a great job.”

Kim will redshirt what would be her senior season while training for a spot on the U.S. roster for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Incoming freshman Barbara Nesbitt will fill the coveted soloist role. Nesbitt, from Riverside, Calif., is a member of a U.S. National Team I squad that recently performed a fourth-place effort at the 2006 FINA World Cup Championships in Yokohama, Japan, in September. As a member of the U.S. Team II roster, Nesbitt was the solo routine champion at the U.S. Open championships in 2005.

“Barb Nesbitt is going to be a real player,” Witter said. “She made the Olympic Team this year, but because of injuries, she decided school would be her first priority. She may be interested in another chance for the Olympics in 2012, but it is a wonderful thing to have her on the team.”

With Barb Nesbitt being here, Caitlin Stewart heading up the freshman class, Michelle Benzie and Julia Broadfoot stepping up to the post and giving a lot of help and Ellen Hacker our representing captain, our Scarlet team is very strong.”

GRAY SQUAD
A total of four members return to the Gray Squad lineup from last year, including juniors Erin DeMarco and Brooke Paul. This squad finished third at the 2006 U.S. Collegiate National Championships and then-freshman newcomer Kendra Sollars took home first-place honors in the `B’ figures competition. Sollars is expected to be a key-player on the Gray squad this year.

Also added to the Gray squad mix are Kaitlin Bolt, Diana Care, Liz Derr, Rita Gillan, Asia Luke, Jackie Mundy, Emilie Siemer and Marianna Suleymanova.

CLASS OF 2010
The freshman class makes up more than half the roster this season, but there is little doubt the 11 freshmen will have an immediate impact on a squad ready to return to the top of the synchronized swimming ranks.

“Our freshmen can truly be labeled as self-starters,” Witter said. “They are getting in there and making sure everything gets done. Our new athletes have embraced the program and we are expecting a lot from them.”

In all, the rookie class combined for nine junior and senior national finalist appearances, six individual and team junior national titles, four national age group championships and three zone championships. The group also put together an impressive resume of two individual state titles, Most Valuable Swimmer accolades and one team conference championship.

2007 SCHEDULE
Ohio State plays host to three meets during the 2007 season, including back-to-back meets Jan. 20 and Feb. 3 with the OSU Tri-Meet and the Jessica Beck Memorial Meet, respectively, at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. Four consecutive meets on the road highlight the month of February, beginning with Richmond Feb. 10 in Richmond, Va., and concluding with the Walsh Invitational in Canton, Ohio, Feb. 24. In between those two meets, the Scarlet and Gray will travel to Williamsburg, Va., to face William & Mary Feb. 11 and Keuka Park, N.Y., to meet Keuka College Feb. 17.

The postseason follows with the Buckeyes hosting the North Regional championships March 3. The Top 12 routines and figures from the North Regional event will join the Top 12 finishers from the other three regional competitions at the 2007 U.S. Collegiate National Championships, hosted by Wheaton College, March 21-24. The U.S. Senior National championships April 26-28 in Indianapolis will conclude the season.

“More and more schools are getting club teams going and we are traveling to a lot of different places this year,” Witter said. “Our focus is really on getting to the national championships this year and taking care of business.”

OSU CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF BIG TEN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
Throughout the 2006-07 campaign, the Big Ten Conference is celebrating the 25th anniversary of conference championships for women. Ohio State, a member of the Big Ten since 1913, has been one of the leaders in women’s athletics over the years and sponsors teams in each of the current 13 Big Ten championship sports.

Basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor outdoor track and field, outdoor track and field and volleyball are all Big Ten programs for women at Ohio State. Women’s fencing, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, pistol and synchronized swimming programs also are sponsored.

For more information about the campaign, including weekly feature stories, academic and athletic honors and a look back at the dominant dynasties and more on the conference’s celebration, visit bigten.org and click on the “Celebrating 25 Years of Big Ten Women’s Championships” link.

Since the Ohio State synchronized swimming team’s creation in 1928 as the Ohio State Swan Club, the program has developed into a national powerhouse that has captured an unprecedented 24 national titles.

The inception of the Collegiate National Championships in 1977 began a new era in collegiate synchronized swimming and the Buckeyes’ dominance. The Scarlet and Gray won the national title between 1977-1980 and followed that streak with 13 consecutive national crowns between 1985-1997.

The Buckeyes last won the national title in 2004 and will seek its 25th title in 2007 at Balfour Natatorium in Haas Athletic Center in Norton, Mass.

NATIONALLY KNOWN
Ohio State synchronized swimmer Becky Kim, who is redshirting her senior year to vie for a spot on the U.S. National team for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, helped the U.S. National Team I squad to a fourth-place finish at the 2006 FINA World Cup Championships in Yokohama, Japan, Sept. 17. Kim was joined by former Buckeye Kate Hooven, a 2004 All-American. The U.S. contingent finished the team competition with a score of 95.850. Russia finished first (99.100), while Japan (97.750) and Spain (97.600) finished second and third, respectively.

The competition ran Sept. 14-17 and featured top international synchronized swimming rivalries in solo, duet and team events. Full recaps of the competition, including video and photo galleries, can be viewed at www.usasynchro.com.

UP NEXT
Ohio State will travel to Richmond, Va., Feb. 10 to compete against Richmond. The Buckeyes then will remain in the state of Virginia to take on William & Mary Feb. 11 in Williamsburg, Va.