Feb. 12, 2004

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Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State synchronized swimming team will head to Virginia for a pair of meets this weekend. The Buckeyes will battle Richmond Saturday before traveling to Williamsburg to face William & Mary Sunday. It will be the seond meeting of the season for Ohio State and William & Mary.

The Buckeyes earned first-place honors in the OSU College Association Meet held Feb. 7 in Larkins Hall in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes recorded 101 points, ahead of Alabama-Birmingham (88), William & Mary (70), Ohio (49) and Iowa (17.5).

Ohio State freshmen Kate Hooven and Becky Kim won the duet competition for the Buckeyes with a mark of 93.475. Teammates Carly Grimshaw and Chelsea Luker finished in second, recording a score of 92.875. Hooven, Kim and junior Lindsay Newbill earned a first-place finish in the trio event with a winning score of 92.625. Heather Burdick, Katrin Eggenberger and Ashley Rule placed second with a score of 90.625.

The Buckeyes also took the top honor in the team event. The Ohio State ‘A’ team of Ellen Hacker, Grimshaw, Newbill, Hooven, Kim, Luker, Lauren Marsh and Chisako Ukai won with a score of 94.625.

Head coach Linda Witter has been named the assistant coach for the 2004 U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Team. The squad will be representing the United States at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Witter, who has led the Ohio State program to six national titles in eight years, has also been involved in various international events with U.S. National teams and most recently was the assistant coach for the 2003 Pan American Team that captured gold in Santo Domingo over the summer.

“This means everything to me because the athletes selected me,” Witter said. “It is such an honor to be able to go to Athens, where the Olympics originally began. That has got to be the biggest high. It’s scary because the pressure is unbelievable, but it will be an amazing experience.”

Former Ohio State athlete, Becky Jasontek (1994-97) also has been named to the 2004 National Team. Jasontek was selected for the team in May 2003. The final three spots for the team were announced this evening after the final trials procedure in Santa Clara, Calif.

Witter will assist head coach Christine Carver, with whom she coached under at the Pan Am Games. Witter’s previous U.S. National Team coaching stints were from 1978-83, 1992-95 and from 2001-present.

The 2004 Olympic Summer Games will be held Aug. 13-29, 2004. Events for synchronized swimming are slated for Aug. 23-27.

The Ohio State synchronized swimming team will head into the 2004 season with not only pride, but also with a strong list of returnees from a national championship squad last season. The Buckeyes have claimed four consecutive national championships under the leadership of head coach Linda Lichter-Witter (2000-03) and will look to continue the exceptional tradition in the season to come.

Gone from the 2003 team are All-Americans Victoria Bowen and Suzanna Hyatt, who earned numerous honors in four years as national champions at Ohio State.

Lichter-Witter, however, does return 18 solid swimmers from the roster last year, including seven returnees from the national championship ‘A’ team. In addition, Ohio State has added seven new faces.

Lichter-Witter and the Buckeye coaching staff will rely heavily on juniors Lindsay Newbill, Heather Burdick and Lauren Marsh as well as sophomores Chelsea Luker and Carly Grimshaw to lead a the 2004 squad.

Newbill, Burdick and Marsh were three-of-six Buckeyes named as 2003 All-Americans and also were part of the Ohio State ‘A’ squad that captured first-place honors at the Collegiate National Championships. All-America status goes to the Top 14 individuals in the nation who are American citizens. Luker and Grimshaw, who both share dual citizenship in Canada and Great Britain, were named honorary All-Americans. Luker won a national championship with Grimshaw.

“We are really looking for those players to step up,” Lichter-Witter said. “They definitely have the experience and the skills to lead this team. I know they will do a heck of a job this year.”

The lone senior, Katie Meyer, as well as sophomores Leslie Edgerton and Chisako Ukai also return and will be competing for a spot on the ‘A’ team.

Depth is one of the obvious strengths of the Buckeye squad this season. In addition to a strong ‘A’ team, the ‘B’ team will continue to improve and show off its talent. In 2003, the Ohio State ‘B’ team finished fourth in the team event at the national championships.

Juniors Marjorie Ardito, Mary Elliott, Bethany Galla and Laura Green have two years experience under their belts and will continue to be solid. Sophomores Jessica Beck, Lauren Byrom, Megan Mikulecky, Stephanie Raftery and Erin Schmidt also will help carry the ‘B’ team.

The 2004 roster includes seven freshmen. Becky Kim and Katherine Hooven come to OSU after several years with the Walnut Creek (Calif.) synchronized swim program and will be expected to compete for one of the top spots on the Buckeye ‘A’ team.

“Becky and Katherine are probably the Top 2 recruits in the country,” Lichter-Witter said. “We are going to expect big things out of them as freshmen.”

Before coming to Ohio State, Katrin Eggenberger was a member of the Swiss National Team and also will be a top competitor for the Buckeyes. Ellen Hacker and Ashley Rule will compete for a spot on the ‘A’ squad and Aubrey Ford and Brooke Paul round out the freshman class.

“The freshman class has more talent than any other freshman class I have ever coached,” Lichter-Witter said. “They have unbelievable aptitude.”

With four consecutive national championships and 23 titles in 27 years, there is no question the 2004 Buckeye squad will have the same attitude when looking ahead to the Collegiate National Championships in Ann Arbor this season.

“Winning the title last year was so unexpected and, in turn, made the greatest believer out of me,” Lichter-Witter said. “Again we have a young squad and it will be interesting to see what happens. This team is so motivated and they know what it takes to win.”

In addition to Witter playing a significant role in international competitions throughout her career, several Ohio State student-athletes also have had experience at the international level. Newbill was named to the United States National Team II and competed in the Swiss Open last May, among other events. Competing in the duet, Luker and Grimshaw hope to represent Great Britain in the 2004 Athens Games and Eggenberger has competed in several events on the Swiss Team.

“There are a lot of personal goals for this season,” Witter said. “Some of them are looking ahead to the Olympics next year and even as far ahead as the 2008 Games. There are always aspirations to go to the next level and college is part of the transition. It really is a never-ending process.

The Buckeyes will travel to Keuka Park, N.Y., to compete in the Keuka College Invitational Feb. 21.