COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State will host Keuka College and Michigan in its first meet of the season at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The event consists of solo, duet and trio routines.
The Buckeyes swept all three routines in 2008 to win the OSU Tri-Meet vs. Keuka and Michigan with 96 points, outscoring runner-up Keuka by 26 points.
U.S. Senior National Team Trials
USA Synchronized Swimming hosted the first of three trials for its Senior National Team at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion Jan. 17-18. The top 27 athletes advanced to phase two of the competition in May.
Three Buckeyes captured Top 10 finishes with Barbara Nesbitt leading the way in third (89.563), former Buckeye Leah Pinette was fourth (89.439) and Michelle Theriault tallied an 85.516 to take 10th. Ohio State had four more Buckeyes finish in the Top 20 with Hannah Shively (82.903), Jayme DeLancy (82.381), Deborah Shim (82.189) and Lauren Robinson (82.033) taking the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th places, respectively.
Jillilan Penner and Meghan Kinney automatically advanced to phase two for team trials, having competed for Team USA at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Both swimmers also participated in the phase one senior duet trials and advanced to the next trial.
Liz Derr (71.353, 43rd), Monica Finnigan (72.577, 41st), Rita Gillan (76.315, 32nd), Jackie Mundy (77.542, 29th), Emilie Siemer (76.881, 31st) and Kendra Sollars (74.441, 43rd) also competed in the two-day event.
The Ohio State synchronized swimming team heads into its 2009 season with a specific goal in mind- to capture its 25th collegiate national title. Two 2008 Olympians Jillian Penner and Becky Kim, along with alternate Meghan Kinney, will join this already accomplished group. Including a stellar freshmen class, the Buckeyes will have all the weapons a team needs to succeed.
Although their 25th national title eluded them last year, the Buckeyes did manage to accomplish another goal they had set out to achieve. The Scarlet squad, consisting of Michelle Benzie, Jayme DeLancy, Carmen Moraes, Barbara Nesbitt, Leah Pinette, Deborah Shim, Caitlin Stewart and Michelle Theriault, held off defending national champion Stanford with their outstanding team routine.
“We had an amazing amount of success in that our biggest goal was to win the team,” Linda Lichter-Witter, who is entering her 14th season as head coach of the Buckeyes, said. “Stanford had competitors from the 2004 Olympics and we knew they were most likely going to win in the small routines, but our goal was to win team, so we were thrilled.”
Scarlet and Gray
This season, the Scarlet team looks to build on its impressive performance from the 2008 Collegiate National Championships. The squad also garnered first in team at the 2008 North Regional Championships and the Jessica Beck Memorial Meet. They also placed second in team at the 2008 U.S. Senior National Championships.
DeLancy, Becky Kim, Meghan Kinney, Moraes, Jackie Mundy, Nesbitt, Jillian Penner, Lauren Robinson, Shim, Hannah Shively, Stewart and Theriault will represent the Scarlet squad in 2009. The team will perform to the deadly seven sins themed music.
“We will illustrate sloth, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath, envy and pride,” Lichter-Witter said. “It is a great routine because we display all of those emotions during the performance.”
The 2009 Gray team of Diana Care, Hilary Deason, Liz Derr, Monica Finnigan, Rita Gillan, Katherine Green, Liana Litsky, Asia Luke, Mundy, Robinson, Emilie Siemer, Kendra Sollars and Torey Stachowicz, also had an impressive season last year. The squad earned top marks at the 2008 North Regional Championships and the Jessica Beck Memorial Meet. This season, the Gray squad will perform to Gargoyle themed music. In historic times, Gargoyles were seen as protectors.
“This year we consider our program as having an offense and defense,” Lichter-Witter said. “Our Scarlet squad is our offense and the Gray team is our defense. Our defense is protecting our offense like a Gargoyle would protect its own.”
One thing Ohio State would like to improve on this season is its small routines. The Buckeyes should have an impressive soloist in junior Nesbitt, a strong duet as well as strong duet and trio routines.
Nesbitt had numerous success in the solo routines last season. She took the top spot in a tri-meet against Michigan and Keuka, the Jessica Beck Memorial Meet and in back-to-back competitions against Richmond and William & Mary. She placed first in the 2008 North Regional Championships, garnered the bronze medal at collegiate nationals and placed fourth at the national championships.
For the 2009 season, the duet will consist of a rotation between Penner, Kinney and Stewart. This duet looks to be one of the strongest duets in the country and the Buckeyes hope to send it to international competition.
The first trio of Penner, Kinney, Stewart and Moraes will also rotate throughout the season. They will perform to powerful music about a Princess who tells stories to her Sultan.
The second trio, consisting of Nesbitt, Theriault, Shim and Moraes will swim to sailor-themed music, which will feature the Buckeyes displaying a storm scene in the waters.
After 17 seasons as the assistant, Holly Vargo-Brown was promoted to associate head coach this past summer. Vargo-Brown enters her 18th year overall with the Buckeyes.
“She’s awesome,” Lichter-Witter said. “We can complete each other’s sentences. I would love for Holly to take over the program when I eventually retire.”
Vargo-Brown has helped the Buckeyes to 12 national titles as a member of the coaching staff and hopes to add one more this season.
Ohio State had two representatives on the 2008 Olympic Team in Kim and Penner, while freshman Kinney was a U.S. Team Alternate.
Kim swam the technical portion for the U.S. squad, but was poolside during the team’s free routine.
Penner swam both the technical and free routines for the United States. The U.S. Team swam its way into a fifth-place tie with Japan with a score of 95.334.
The Buckeyes will travel to St. Charles, Mo., to compete against Lindenwood Jan. 31.