COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State synchronized swimming team will compete for its 17th North Regional Championship title at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The squad will host eight teams including, Ball State, Carleton, Illinois, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio.

Since synchronized swimming records have been kept beginning in 1987, Ohio State has made its mark every year in the North Regional Championships. The Buckeyes have captured 16 North Regional championship titles, one for every year the meet has been contested.

In 2007, the Buckeyes tallied 105 points, taking first place and overtaking their nearest opponent, Carleton, by more than 30 points. On its way to its 16th North Regional title, Ohio State captured the first and second place spots in the team competition with the Scarlet team garnering marks of 96.667 to edge out the Gray team, which earned 93.333 points.

Ohio State also swept the solo, duet and trio categories last season. Barbara Nesbitt contributed a first-place win in the solo competition with a score of 94.667, while Ellen Hacker and Caitlin Stewart claimed first in the duet category with a 94.000. Not only did the Buckeyes take first in the trio competition thanks to the performance of Hacker, Carmen Moraes and Stewart, earning a 94.000, the combination of Nesbitt, Leah Pinette and Hannah Shively also took second with a score of 93.333.

The Keuka College Invitational Feb. 16 and the Keuka College Tri-Meet Feb.17 were both opportunities for the Buckeyes to showcase their Gray team talent. The Gray squad captured their first team title of the year, scoring an 89.750 at the tri-meet.  The team, which also recorded a second-place finish in the invitational the previous day with a score of 92.167, was comprised of Kaitlin Bolt, Julia Broadfoot, Erin DeMarco, Liz Derr, Jackie Mundy, Brooke Paul, Emilie Siemer and Kendra Sollars. 

Ohio State also swept the solo, duet and trio competitions at the tri-meet. The trio of Bolt, Mundy and Paul earned 87.250 points to take first with teammates Gillan, Monica Finnigan and Diana Care coming in second with 87.000 points. Bolt, Mundy and Paul also pulled in a second-place finish at the invitational with marks of 86.333.

The pair of Asia Luke and Tayler Stachowicz was victorious in their first duet performance of the season, tallying 87.500 points. After capturing first at the tri-meet they garnered 85.500 in the invitational to add a third-place finish to their records.

Rounding out the sweep for the Buckeyes was Hilary Deason, who recorded her first collegiate solo win with marks of 86.750. Deason’s solo performance also garnered marks of 87.500 in the invitational to put her in second place.

With this Ohio State team, improvement is inevitable. The trio of Barbara Nesbitt, Caitlin Stewart and Michelle Theriault has improved its marks dramatically from the OSU Tri-Meet, its first outing of the season. Performing a routine that earned a score of 94.833 vs. William & Mary, the trio has brought its marks up by more than a point.

Similarly, Nesbitt has shown no sign of faltering in the solo competition. With scores of 94.667 and 95.833 vs. Richmond and William & Mary, she has improved her marks at each meet this season and has captured her third and fourth solo win, keeping her win streak alive.

The Buckeyes also are getting better as a team. Performing their third team routine of the season, Ohio State earned marks of 95.833 vs. William & Mary, improving upon its previous score of 95.000.

Ohio State will have the privilege of welcoming the best synchronized swimmers in the nation in March when it hosts the 2008 U.S. Collegiate Nationals. 2008 will mark the first year Ohio State has hosted the event since 2000 and the team’s first chance to show off the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.

The Buckeyes may be preparing to host talent from around the nation, but they too are some of the best. In the 31-year history of collegiate nationals, Ohio State has taken the crown 24 times, including five-consecutive titles from 2000-2004. Falling short to Stanford for three-consecutive years beginning in 2004, the squad is eager to take back the title this season and record its 25th Collegiate National title at home.

The Buckeyes will be missing a key contributor, not only this weekend, but for the remainder of the 2008 season. Soon-to-be senior Becky Kim, who competed for Ohio State in 2005 and 2006, has traded in her Scarlet and Gray for the Red, White and Blue. Kim is currently training with the U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Team in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Kim will once again compete for Ohio State when she returns for her senior season in 2008-09.

After taking a few weeks off from competition, the Buckeyes will host the 2008 U.S. Collegiate National Championships March 26-29 in the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.