COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team (3-3, 3-2 Big Ten) upset a pair of ranked Big Ten opponents with a season-high 196.375 to win its 2021 home opener at the Covelli Center on Sunday afternoon. No. 20 Illinois finished second with a score of 196.075 and No. 17 Michigan State scored a 194.500 to place third.
“The greatest thing about today was that it wasn’t the ideal dreamy start at home,” said head coach Meredith Paulicivic. “We left the door wide open and this team fought all the way through. They got better as the meet went on and learned that fighting until the end can really pay off. It was great to see this young team figure it out.”
The Buckeyes claimed event titles on bars (49.300), beam (49.175) and floor (49.200), all of which were season-high scores. Jenna Swartzentruber won the crown on bars and matched her career high with a 9.925. Ella Hodges tied her season high and for first place with a 9.875 on beam. Claire Gagliardi matched her career mark to earn the floor title thanks to a 9.925.
Ohio State wore its white leotard, which was designed by the 2020 senior class. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic cutting the season short, those seniors weren’t able to wear their creation.
“It was a little emotional for us to be at home and wear these leotards,” said Paulicivic. “We talked about it before we came out and I told them to make last season’s seniors proud. To enjoy every moment they get an opportunity this year to go out and compete. We’re really grateful for every meet that we get.”
Ohio State started the day on vault with a 48.700. Sydney Jennings scored a 9.800 to lead the Buckeyes and tied for second place with Baleigh Garcia (MSU) and Arayah Simons (ILL).
The Buckeyes put together impressive performances on bars. Swartzentruber’s stunning routine earned a 9.925 to win the event. Zoe Schweitzer hit a new career high on a 9.900, which tied for second. Colby Miller had a season-high 9.875 and Emma Pritchard posted a career-best 9.825 on the apparatus.
Ohio State trailed Illinois heading into its third rotation on beam. Hodges shared the crown with Kylie Noonan and Mia Takekawa from Illinois with a trio of 9.875s. Jennings and Pritchard both had career marks with a 9.825.
It all came down to floor as the Buckeyes led the Illini, 147.175-147.100. Gagliardi’s energetic routine was rewarded with a 9.925, which secured her first individual title of the season. Alexis Hankins was right behind with a career-tying 9.900 to come in second.
Ohio State takes its show on the road to face Rutgers on Feb. 14 at 1 p.m.