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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The defense of its Collegiate National title will begin Thursday as the Ohio State synchronized swimming team will travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to compete in the 34th annual U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships. The prestigious event will take place at the Avery Aquatic Center on the Stanford University campus through Saturday.

The Buckeyes (14-0), the reigning Collegiate National champion, will look to add to its collection of 25 Collegiate National titles, which are the most championships by any Ohio State sports program.

Just who is in the Running?
Stanford, who has six U.S. Collegiate titles to its credit, will attempt to usurp Ohio State from the top. Other top contenders include Canisius College and the University of the Incarnate Word, which finished third and fourth, respectively, at the 2009 U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships.  

In addition to the Buckeyes’ Meghan Kinney, Hannah Shively and Michelle Theriault, members of the 2009 USA Synchro National Team, the Cardinal feature Deborah Chen, Maria Koroleva and Olivia Morgan. The Stanford trio also earned roster spots on the U.S. National Team last year.

If You Go
Fans can purchase tickets to the 2010 U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships at the Avery Aquatic Center box office. Adult all-session passes are $25 and student all-session passes are $15. Day of event ticket prices for Thursday and Friday are $8 for adults and $5 for students, youth and senior citizens. Individual ticket prices for Saturday are $12 for adults and $8 for students, youth and senior citizens.

Capturing No. 25
The Buckeyes won its 25th U.S. Collegiate National championship in 2009 at the Josh Davis Natatorium in San Antonio, Texas. It had been five years since the Buckeyes had captured the coveted title and after winning three of four events in the finals, the Scarlet and Gray scored an impressive 98 points to outdistance second-place finisher Stanford (80) by 18 points.

The Scarlet team entered the championships as the defending team routine national champions and put the cap on an impressive event for the Buckeyes when it scored a 97.333 for first place and the repeat. Barbara Nesbitt, Deborah Shim, Michelle Theriault, Jayme DeLancy, Carmen Moraes, Caitlin Stewart, Jillian Penner and Becky Kim made up the 2009 team routine national champions.

The Buckeye Gray squad of Kendra Sollars, Liz Derr, Rita Gillan, Jackie Mundy, Hannah Shively, Emilie Siemer, Lauren Robinson and Katherine Green finished two points behind its teammates with 95.333 points for third in the team routine competition.

The final day of the 2009 championships began with the small routines and both Ohio State trios finished in a tie for first to capture the first gold medal of the day for the Scarlet and Gray. Nesbitt, Shim and Theriault were the first Buckeye group to perform and executed a 94.667. Not to be outdone, Moraes, Stewart and Kinney showcased a routine worthy of a 94.667 as well. It is the Buckeyes’ first trio championship since 2006 when Ellen Hacker (2004-05, 2007), Kim and Moraes won the title in Stanford, Calif.

In the duet competition Kim and Kinney, recorded a first-place mark of 95.333.

After finishing first in the solo semifinal, Nesbitt was a silver medalist, scoring a 94.667.

One of the Finest
Not very many coaches, if any really, can boast a 97 percent winning record. But that is just what head coach Linda Lichter-Witter’s record at Ohio State reads. In 14 seasons with the Buckeyes, Lichter-Witter has amassed an overwhelming impressive mark of 564-18-1 (.968).

Lichter-Witter and the Buckeyes currently own a 14-0 record in 2010. During her tenure on the Ohio State campus, Lichter-Witter has guided Ohio State to eight U.S. Collegiate National titles and one U.S. Senior National championship crown.

Two Decades of Dominance
The Buckeyes swept all four routines at the 2010 North Regional Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., Feb. 27-28 to win its 20th regional title. The Buckeyes earned 103 points, while Lindenwood was second with 86. Host school Michigan rounded out the Top 3 with 63 points.

Ohio State placed in the Top 2 spots in the team routine. Barbara Nesbitt, Caitlin Stewart, Deborah Shim, Lauren Robinson, Hannah Shively, Emilie Siemer and Jackie Mundy, who made up the Scarlet squad, took first with a score of 95.833. The Gray team, consisting of Raquel Aguado, Liz Derr, Rita Gillan, Asia Luke, Colleen Courtmanche, Liana Litsky, Kayley Colville and Samantha Schmidt, placed second with a mark of 94.667.

In solo, Nesbitt earned her fourth first-place finish of the season. The senior tallied a score of 92.875.

Michelle Theriault and Meghan Kinney placed first in duet with a mark of 93.375.

In the trio routine, the Scarlet and Gray’s Nesbitt, Shim and Theriault took the top spot with a score of 93.667. Coming in second, with a mark of 92.167, was the group of Kinney, Stewart and Paige Ramsey.

Saluting the Seniors
Ohio State hosted its final home event of the season at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion March 6. The Senior Night Performance was the last home affair for seniors Liz Derr, Rita Gillan, Asia Luke, Jackie Mundy, Barbara Nesbitt, Hannah Shively, Emilie Siemer and Caitlin Stewart. The group will now set its sights on another U.S. Collegiate National title.

Leading the Way
The Scarlet team has the highest mark of any team routine this season with a score of 93.330. Senior soloist Barbara Nesbitt has the top mark among the soloists with a 93.500. Meghan Kinney and Michelle Theriault, who have a score of 93.500, lead the Buckeyes in duet. Deborah Shim, Nesbitt and Theriault pace the Scarlet and Gray in trio with a score of 92.830. All high marks were earned at the Jessica Beck Memorial Meet Feb.6 with the exception of Kinney and Theriault, who captured their high score against Richmond Feb. 13.

Up Next
The Buckeyes will travel to Huntersville, N.C., to compete in the 2010 U.S. Senior National Championships April 15-18.