Jan. 10, 2005

Columbus, Ohio – With a new coaching staff and eight newcomers, the Ohio State women’s gymnastics team opens the 2005 season at 7 p.m., Saturday, in St. John Arena with a tri-meet against Big Ten rivals No. 7 Michigan and Minnesota and East Atlantic Gymnastics member Maryland.

Members of the women’s gymnastics team volunteered at the Holy Family Soup Kitchen in downtown Columbus, Ohio on December 29, 2004. While volunteering the squad and its coaching staff served food and bagged groceries for people in need. In all, 280 meals were served throughout the day.

“It was a really humbling experience for us and the people we helped were very grateful,” Carey Fagan, Ohio State head coach, said. “You think you know what a soup kitchen is like and you think you know what to expect, but it’s still shocking when you see it, especially the families.”

Fagan and her team wanted to begin a tradition of doing community service projects. After talking to members of the Ohio State Student Athlete Support Services Offices the team decided working a soup kitchen was an excellent idea.

The Ohio State Athletics department will feature the women’s gymnastics team on live internet video during the LSU meet, at 2 p.m. Feb. 20 and the Japan All-Star meet at 7 p.m. March 3. Fans can access the live video link by logging on to the official athletics website at

At first glance, the 2005 Buckeyes seem to be a team with the appearance of a rebuilding year. Of the 10 competitors returning this season only three – senior Elizabeth Meaney, junior Kaylin Schlecht and sophomore Brittany Livingston – saw action as all-around competitors last season. Leading the Buckeyes this season in almost every event will be Meaney, who is the Buckeyes’ top returning all-arounder. In 2004 she averaged a 38.910 in the all-around in nine meets.

On floor the Buckeyes will be led by Meaney and Livingston. Meaney competed on floor in every meet last year and posted a 9.850 or higher 12 times while averaging a 9.850. Livingston, meanwhile, posted consistent numbers for the Buckeyes competing in 10 meets, averaging a 9.750. Joining Meaney and Livingston will be senior Jenni Lymanstall, who averaged a 9.780 on floor in 2004. The Buckeyes also will look to Schlecht to provide added depth on floor.

As strong as the Buckeyes are on floor they will be equally as strong on beam. Once again Meaney will be the top returning competitor. She posted scores of 9.800 or better in 10 of her 12 performances last season.

On vault Ohio State features some very talented performers with Meaney again providing the scoring spark as she averaged a team-best 9.900 competing on vault in every meet. Meaney will be joined by sophomore Elizabeth Ahlberg, who made an immediate impact for the Buckeyes in 2004, competing in every meet averaging a 9.710.

Junior Leah Boccaccio is Ohio State’s top returning bars competitor. She had a break-out season last year as she scored a 9.800 or higher in four of the eight meets she competed in, and also averaged a team-best 9.780 in 2004.

The Buckeyes have much to celebrate with their 2005 recruiting class. The five-member scholarship class will bolster an Ohio State squad.

The Ohio State freshman class features two top Florida gymnasts in Jessica Rosette and Maalika Moore-Thomas, who will provide the Buckeyes with depth as all-arounders.

Shawnee, Mo., native Kaylan Clevinger will give the Buckeyes an added boost in the all-around as well. Having only been involved in gymnastics for a little over six years, Clevinger won the 2003 Level-9 Junior Olympics National Championship on vault, beam, floor and all-around before moving onto Level-10 in 2004, where she was runner-up in the Level-10 Missouri State Championships.

Karley Walek of Pequannock, N.J., will be looked upon to help Ohio State improve on vault. Walek is a three-time all-state selection and a 2004 Junior Olympic competitor.

Another New Jersey native, Helina Manesis will provide the Buckeyes with a spark in every event. Manesis won the state vault title in 2003.

Fagan also added Canonsburgh, Penn., product Megan Flood and Landisville Pa. native Amanda Gamby to the 2005 roster.

Louisiana State University transfer Brittany Brown joins the roster as well this season. Brown, a junior, will no doubt make an impact to the Buckeye season as an all-arounder. During her sophomore campaign at LSU, Brown averaged a 9.860 on floor and a 9.775 on beam.

Last June long time Ohio State women’s gymnastics coach Larry Cox retired from the ranks of head coach after 251 wins, five Big Ten championships and 24 trips to the NCAA Regional Championships. Enter newly appointed head coach Carey Fagan. After spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach for Ohio State, Fagan is now the head coach for the Buckeyes and 2005 will mark the beginning of the Fagan Era, as she inherits a team which went 9-7-1 in 2004.

“I am extremely excited to be here as head coach,” Fagan, a graduate of Penn State University, said. “We have a great team with loads of talent. It is a new beginning for us all.”

Jay Santos and William Lorenz were named assistant coaches by head caoch Carey Fagan for the 2005 season in August.

Santos, a 1995 graduate of UMass, joins Fagan’s staff after four successful years as the women’s team director of the Somersault Gymnastics Center in Stoughton, Mass.

Lorenz comes to Columbus after spending the last two seasons as an assistant women’s gymnastics coach at Penn State, where he was coordiantor of the conditioning and recruiting programs. Lorenz is a 1997 graduate of UMass.

Michigan enters the 2005 campaign with high hopes after placing eighth in the NCAA championships in 2004. The Wolverines also will look to capture their seventh consecutive Big Ten Title as well.

Elise Ray will lead the Wolverines this season. Ray, the 2004 NCAA national bars champion, looks to win her fourth NCAA championship this season. Sophomore Lindsey Bruck looks to build on a sensational freshman season where she finished as an All-American.

Beverly Plocki is in her 16th season at the helm of the Wolverine program. Plocki has compiled a 284-84 career record with 12 Big Ten championships.

Ohio State fell to Michigan, Jan. 11, 2003 by the score of 196.100-192.175. The Buckeyes were paced by Shelby Warner who placed third in the floor exercise with a score of 9.875 and finished fourth in the all-around with a score of 38.650.

On vault, the Buckeyes were led by Rickee Wirtzberger, registering a score of 9.725 for fourth place. Kaylin Schlecht also placed fourth on the uneven bars and Elizabeth Meaney and Tiffanie Janke tied for fourth on beam with a score of 9.725.

Minnesota comes to Columbus looking to improve on a 2004 season which ended with an 8-18 record.

Leading the way for the Golden Gophers is senior Carolyn Yernberg and junior Maria Opsahl. Yernberg was one of Minnesota’s top competitors on floor in 2004, averaging a team-high 9.837. Opsahl was a strong competitor for the Gophers on beam last season posting a 9.900 or higher in 10 meets last season.

Jim and Meg Stephenson are the co-head coaches for the Gophers. In their 22 years of coaching at Minnesota the duo has combined for a career record of 172-143-1.

Ohio State dropped a 195.50-194.55 decision to Minnesota at St. John Arena Feb. 2, 2002. Falls were costly for the Buckeyes, as OSU counted one fall on uneven bars and one on balance beam while the Golden Gophers did not count a fall.

The Buckeyes were stellar on floor exercise posting a 49.425. Jill Tucker and Rickee Wirtzberger each posted a 9.900 to tie for first place overall. Amanda Allen, Tiffanie Janke and Laura Sommerville each tallied 9.875 to tie for third place.

Seniors Leah Brill and Ashley Oberdorff will lead a talented Maryland team which returns 11 gymnasts and adds four new freshmen.

Leah Brill competed in all but one meet on bars, beam and floor. Brill averaged a 9.867 on bars, a 9.85 on beam and a 9.813 on floor. Oberdorff, sat out due to injury in 2004 but looks to improve on a stellar 2003 season where she finished with a 39.256 average all-around score.

Bob Nelligan enters his 27th season as head coach for the Terrapins. Nelligan holds a career record of 425-364-3 and has led his sqauds to 14 NCAA regional championships.

Ohio State defeated Maryland and Pittsburgh Jan. 10, 2004 in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes tallied a then-season-high 193.775 points edging the Panthers, who scored 193.450 and the Terrapins, who scored 192.825.

The Buckeyes were led by Tiffanie Janke who placed first in the floor exercise competition with a score of 9.850, and the vault competition, scoring a 9.925. Megan Porter also contributed to the Buckeyes success, placing first on balance beam with a score of 9.825.

“We have worked very hard during preseason and I know the team is anxious to get out there and perform,” Fagan said. “I am looking forward to seeing how well this young team can compete under pressure, and anxious to see how we measure up to some tough competition in our first meet of the year.”

The Buckeyes have enjoyed success in meets held at St. John Arena. Since the 1994 season, Ohio State is 42-13 at home. The Buckeyes also have won five of their last seven home meets dating back to the 2003 All-Ohio Championships.

The Buckeyes have been strong in their season openers. Since their first competitive season in 1970 the Buckeyes are 21-11 in season openers.

The Buckeyes are 80-74-1 against teams from the Big Ten. Last season Ohio State finished 0-2-1 against conference foes, falling to Illinois and Michigan State while tying Penn State.

The Buckeyes will hit the road next weekend for a meet against the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, Mich., at 2 p.m. Jan. 22.