Jan. 31, 2001

OSU Looks to Keep It Going
The 16th-ranked Ohio State women’s gymnastics team travels to Illinois Saturday night for an 8 p.m. co-ed meet at Huff Hall. The event also features the third-ranked OSU men, who will take on the No. 5 Fighting Illini men in Big Ten action.

Bucks-Illini: The Series
Ohio State maintains an 8-6 series lead over Illinois. The Buckeyes dominated the Fighting Illini last season in Columbus, downing the Illini 192.6-191.325.

Scouting the Fighting Illini
Illinois is winless in three meets this season, but posted its best score of the season (194.65) in its lone home meet thus far. The Fighting Illini, ranked 28th in the latest national rankings, are coming off a 194.8-192.9 loss at Michigan State last Saturday. They were led by senior Gina Wiechmann, who won the balance beam competition with a 9.85. The Fighting Illini are coached by second-year mentor Bob Starkell (Wisconsin-Oshkosh, ’92), who has posted a 7-13 record during his tenure at Illinois.

Buckeyes Double Your Pleasure
The Saturday co-ed meet with Illinois marks the beginning of four straight meets in which the Buckeye men’s and women’s teams will compete together in co-ed meets. After Saturday, the teams will host Michigan State (Feb. 9), travel to Iowa (Feb. 17) and host a double dual co-ed meet Feb. 24, with the men welcoming Penn State and West Virginia and the women hosting a dual with the Mountaineers.

Buckeyes Knock Off Penn State
No. 7 Ohio State posted a solid all-around effort in handing No. 16 Penn State its first loss of the season, 195.35-194.7, Saturday at St. John Arena. The Buckeyes’ score is the eighth-best in school history. Lindsey Vagedes led the Buckeyes with a second-place finish in the all-around, posting a season-best 39.35. Vagedes took runner-up honors on balance beam (9.825) and floor exercise (9.85) and added a third-place finish on uneven bars (9.85). Jill Tucker recorded a first-place finish on vault (9.875), tying with Penn State’s Katie Rowland, and Mary Beth Doerr won the uneven bars competition for the third-consecutive week, tying a career best with a 9.9. Susan Kinkaid posted her best vault performance in nearly two years, scoring 9.85 to take third place. Stephanie Buerkel continued her comeback from a back injury, tying Vagedes for third place on bars (9.85), and Sarah Spring tied Vagedes for second on floor (9.85). Tucker Vaults to Top – Again
After a slow start to the season on vault, Jill Tucker has come alive in the past two meets, winning the vault competition in each meet. Last week, she posted a 9.875 to claim the title. This came one week after she recorded a career-best 9.95, tying with teammate Lindsey Vagedes for the event crown and, at the time, the best vault score in the nation.

Buckeyes Making History
Ohio State’s score of 195.35 vs. Penn State is tied for the eighth-best team score in school history, matching the total posted last year vs. Oklahoma. The Buckeyes’ score came one week after they recorded a 195.575 at the All-Ohio Championships – the sixth-best in school history. That score was the highest ever in a road dual meet, topping the previous high of 195.175, set in a loss at Illinois March 6, 1999.

Buerkel Back Despite Her Back
Stephanie Buerkel has made a huge impact over the past two weeks after taking several months off due to a back injury. Buerkel tied for third place on uneven bars (9.85) vs. Penn State while posting key scores on beam (9.725) and floor (9.75). She also made a major contribution at the All-Ohio Championships, taking second place on bars (9.85) and third on beam (9.8).

Home Sweet Home
Ohio State has been virtually unbeatable at home over the past four-plus seasons, defeating 22 of the last 26 opponents who have come to Columbus. OSU is 2-0 at home this year, notching wins over Ball State and then-No. 16 Penn State.

Ohio State in the Rankings
Ohio State is ranked 16th in the latest GymInfo poll, which is based on team average score. OSU holds Top-25 rankings in two of the four event rankings – No. 11 on uneven bars and No. 15 on vault. Two Buckeye individuals hold national rankings – Lindsey Vagedes (No. 4, vault, No. 20, all-around) and Mary Beth Doerr (No. 20, uneven bars).

GymInfo Poll – Jan. 29, 2001 No. School Team Avg. 1. UCLA 196.825 2. Alabama 196.306 3. Georgia 196.112 4. Utah 196.025 5. Nebraska 195.675 6. Florida 195.387 7. Stanford 195.342 8. Michigan 195.281 9. Oklahoma 194.894 10. Illinois State 194.775 11. Louisiana State 194.442 12. Washington 194.437 13. Minnesota 194.406 14. BYU 194.300 15. Penn State 194.219 16. Ohio State 194.169 17. California 194.056 18. Cal St.-Sacramento 193.912 19. Iowa State 193.842 20. Oregon State 193.781 21. N.C. State 193.683 22. Bowling Green 193.625 West Virginia 193.625 24. Denver 193.592 25. Kentucky 193.467 28. Illinois 193.275

2001 OSU opponents in bold Rankings based on team average scores

Event National Rankings Event OSU Ranking Floor Exercise 29th (48.600) Balance Beam 29th (48.094) Uneven Bars 11th (48.950) Vault t15th (48.525)

Buckeyes Battling Tough Foes
Ohio State has posted a 3-1 record against ranked teams this season after defeating No. 16 Penn State last Saturday. OSU also has posted wins at No. 10 Bowling Green and vs. No. 19 Kent State, while losing at No. 18 Minnesota. The Buckeyes will square off with seven teams who are ranked in the Top-25 poll this season.

Bucks Hit Jackpot on Bars
OSU has been solid on uneven bars this season, posting its highest event score on bars in each of the first three of the four meets. Last week, OSU scored 49.0, marking their third straight week at or above 49 points. The Buckeyes tied the uneven bars school record with a 49.25 vs. Ball State, matching the mark set Feb. 22, 1997, at Michigan. All five scoring Buckeyes recorded career highs of at least 9.8 in the event vs. BSU.

Vagedes No Stranger to Success
Lindsey Vagedes continued her fabulous start to the season last week with her best all-around score in nearly two years (39.35). Vagedes recorded top-three finishes in three events – beam (2nd), floor (2nd) and bars (3rd). After winning two events and the all-around in the season opener at Minnesota, she earned Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors for the first time in her career. Vagedes earned All-Big Ten distinctions on vault, beam, floor and in the all-around last season, joining Michigan’s Sarah Cain as the only Big Ten gymnast to earn All-Big Ten laurels in four or more events. Vagedes also is a three-time Big Ten individual champion, earning the 1998 and 1999 vault crowns and the 1999 beam title.

Wirtzberger Out For Season
After a stellar freshman campaign which included a trip to the NCAA Championships, Rickee Wirtzberger will miss the 2001 season with a neck injury, suffered in practice over the summer. Wirtzberger advanced to the NCAA Championships after tying for first place on floor at regionals with a 9.925 – a career best.

Buckeyes Capture All-Ohio Crown
Ohio State recorded its best all-around effort of the season Jan. 21 at the All-Ohio Championships, dominating with a season-best score of 195.575 en route to the crown. The Buckeyes easily topped runner-up Kent State (193.15) and Bowling Green (191.175) to win the event, hosted at Bowling Green’s Anderson Arena. The Buckeyes’ score is the sixth-best in school history and the best in two years. OSU had individuals place first in three of four events, while Sarah Spring paced the Buckeye attack with her second straight all-around title, scoring 39.0 to eke past Kent State’s Jenny Eckel (38.975). Lindsey Vagedes captured two individual titles, winning the floor exercise (9.9) crown, while tying with teammate Jill Tucker with a 9.95 on vault. Mary Beth Doerr won the uneven bars competition for the second straight week, scoring 9.875.

Buckeyes Bounce Ball State
Led by a career-best performance from Sarah Spring, Ohio State posted a 193.5-192.9 victory over Ball State Jan. 12 at St. John Arena. Spring captured the all-around title with a career-high 39.05 and also won the floor exercise with a career-best 9.925. OSU tied a school record on uneven bars, recording a score of 49.25 to tie the mark, previously set at Michigan Feb. 22, 1997. All five scoring Buckeyes set or tied career highs with at least a 9.8 on the apparatus. Lindsey Vagedes won the vault title (9.875) and tied for the bars crown with Mary Beth Doerr (9.9). Vagedes also nabbed runner-up laurels on floor (9.85) to Spring. OSU also received a fine performance on balance beam from Jenni Lymanstall, who tied for first place (9.775).

OSU Head Coach Larry Cox
Three-time regional Coach of the Year Larry Cox heads into his 22nd season as the Ohio State women’s gymnastics coach. Cox has guided OSU to a NCAA Regional appearance in each of his 21 seasons at the helm and has produced four All-Americans. He has led the Buckeyes to five Big Ten crowns, six NCAA Regional titles, and six NCAA Championships berths. Cox began his career at Odessa (Texas) Junior College, winning the Junior College National Championship on parallel bars in 1975. He transferred to Arizona State in 1976 and won the WAC parallel bars title in 1977. That same year, Cox was a finalist for the Nissen Award, presented annually to the nation’s outstanding senior male collegiate gymnast. After graduating in 1977, Cox remained at ASU as assistant coach for the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams. In 1979, Cox became head coach at Ohio State.

2000 Season In Review
After struggling throughout much of the season, Ohio State came alive down the stretch of the season, earning a bid to the NCAA Regionals – the team’s 21st straight bid to the postseason. OSU took fourth at the Big Ten Championships and followed it up with a strong third-place finish at regionals, missing by one place of advancing. Buckeyes Rickee Wirtzberger and Jill Tucker advanced to the NCAA Championships as individuals, tying for the floor exercise crown with scores of 9.925. OSU also posted a school-record score of 49.450 on floor at the regional meet – the second-best score posted by any team competing in the NCAA Regionals.