Feb. 5, 2003

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State synchronized swimming team (4-1) plays host to the OSU College Association Meet Saturday at the varsity pool in Larkins Hall. The Buckeyes welcome Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Walsh and William & Mary for competition. Routine events will begin at 1 p.m.

Ohio State finished second in a tri-meet at Alabama-Birmingham Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. The Blazers tallied 85 points to finish with first place honors. The Buckeyes finished with 77 points while Georgia came in third with 23 points. The loss was the first in the program since March 26, 1999, when the Buckeyes finished second to Stanford at the Collegiate National Championships. Ohio State ended a steak of 130 consecutive victories, including three wins this season.

Ohio State’s only first place finish came in the team event. Buckeyes Jessica Beck, Stacey Coffman, Sharon Mejia, Katie Meyer, Megan Mikulecky, Brianne Pineiro, Erin Schmidt and Isla Turner combined to finish with a score of 89.833 in the event.

Leslie Edgerton placed second in the solo event for Ohio State with a mark of 85.166. Pineiro and Turner also finished second in the duet event (85.333) while Lauren Byrom, Edgerton and Meyer came in second in the trio event (85.333). FORMER BUCKEYES EARN SPOTS ON OLYMPIC TRIALS TEAM
Three former Ohio State synchronized swimmers have earned spots on the 2003 United States Olympic Trials Team. Gina Pietras (1994-97), Becky Jasontek (1994-97) and Mary Hofer (1999-2002) were named to the squad this week and will have the opportunity to compete for the United States National Team that will participate in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Athens, Greece.

The squad of 13, also known as the U.S. National Team I, will regroup in March at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for further evaluation. In May, the group will be cut from 13 to a delegation size of 10 for the World Championships, and will once again downsize to nine in May of 2004 for the Olympic Games.

The trials process began at the 2002 U.S. Nationals and progresses over four phases throughout the year. The athletes are tested in eight technical elements, then evaluated by 13 judges during each of four pre-determined routine swims. All scores throughout the trials process are confidential until teams are announced.

Current Buckeyes Victoria Bowen, Suzanna Hyatt and Lindsay Newbill are three of 12 members named to the 2003 U.S. National Team II. The squad will compete at the 2003 United Airlines Open July 15-19 in Federal Way, Wash.

The Ohio State synchronized swimming team kicks off the 2003 season after winning three-consecutive national championships from 2000-2002, under the guidance of head coach Linda Witter. While a bulk of the championship team from a year ago has graduated, namely Carolina Moraes, Isabela Moraes, Mary Hofer, Beth Kreimer and Kristin Price, the squad has a positive outlook and will focus on gaining more experience for its underclassmen.

The leadership of the 2003 Buckeye team will come from seniors Victoria Bowen, Suzanna Hyatt, Sharon Mejia, Katie Meyer and Kris Moyer.

“We have tremendous senior leadership this year,” Witter said. “Victoria and Suzanna are amazing. They show concern in this new team. We know we lost some amazing talent, but they always get the team to do the right thing. They are role models by example. That kind of leadership doesn’t get any better.”

Bowen and Hyatt finished fourth in the trio event at the 2002 Collegiate National Championships with former teammate Beth Kreimer. Bowen garnered her third All-America nod while Hyatt earned her second honor as a Buckeye.

Bowen and freshman Chelsea Luker are set to compete in the solo event for the Buckeyes this year. Luker and Hyatt are the frontrunners for the duet position while two groups of three are competing for the top spot in the trio event. Luker, Lauren Marsh and Carly Grimshaw make up one of the Buckeye trios. Bowen, Hyatt and Lindsay Newbill will also compete in the trio event, occasionally rotating with Emiko Takyu. The 2003 Ohio State ‘A’ team will consist of Bowen, Luker, Hyatt, Marsh, Newbill, Takyu, Grimshaw, Heather Burdick and Chisako Ukai. Sophomores Laura Green, Valerie Jolibois, Mary Elliott and Isla Turner have quality experience in the figures event while Stacey Coffman and Mejia have previous experience in the trio event. Marjorie Ardito and Bethany Galla also will look to contribute to the Buckeye effort this season.

The Buckeye roster consists of 11 newcomers, including eight freshman faces. Sophomore Brianne Pineiro, originally from Staten Island, N.Y., spent her freshman year as a member of the Miami Hurricane swim team before transferring to Ohio State. Ukai, from Nagano City, Japan, and Takyu, a native of San Jose, Calif., also joined the Buckeye squad this season. The freshman class includes Jessica Beck, Lauren Byrom, Leslie Edgerton, Megan Mikulecky, Stephanie Raftery, Erin Schmidt, Luker and Grimshaw.

“This year will be a whole new experience for our freshmen and sophomore class, but they know the tradition of our program and they work hard every day in practice,” Witter said.

The Buckeyes begin the season by playing host to the OSU Tri-Meet, competing against Miami (Ohio) and Walsh. The OSU Tri-Meet is one of four home events for the Scarlet and Gray. The home slate includes a dual meet against Michigan (Jan. 25), the OSU College Association Meet (Feb. 8) and the North Regional Championships (March 1). The 2003 Collegiate National Championships are scheduled for March 24-27 in Tuscon, Ariz. The U.S. National Championships will be held April 24-27 in Long Island, N.Y.

Coach Witter and the Buckeyes have a positive outlook on the season despite being considered slight underdogs in the hunt for another Ohio State national championship in 2003.

“A team is only as good as your athletes are,” Witter said. “I enjoy working with them. They are very attentive and are all very eager to learn. They are quick to make corrections and they do anything I ask of them. It doesn’t come easy, but they are getting better each day.”

Brazilian Olympians Carolina and Isabela Moraes ended their senior season in style by helping the Ohio State Buckeyes to the school’s 22nd overall title at the U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships in Norton, Mass.

The Buckeye twins utilized lengthy underwater hybrids to win duet gold with a final score of 96.333. Stanford’s Erin Dobratz and Lindsey Wigginton – both members of the U.S. National Team program – finished second at 95.000.

The Moraes sisters teamed up with Mary Hofer of Spring Valley, Calif. to win the trio’s fourth Collegiate gold with a score of 97.333. Stanford’s top trio of Dobratz, Wigginton and Norris finishd a point back at 96.333.

Carolina Moraes and Stanford’s Katie Norris created a first occurrence of their own in the sport of synchronized swimming. Moraes and Norris earned a perfect tie of 95.833 in the solo final to share the event’s gold medal.

There was no tie in the team event, however, with Ohio State capturing gold with a score of 98.167. Swimming for Ohio State were Hofer, Victoria Bowen, Suzanna Hyatt, Kim Lester, Isabela Moraes, Beth Kreimer, Lauren Marsh, and Kristin Price.

The overall title is Ohio State’s third consecutive, and 22nd overall title in the 26th year of the championships.

The Buckeyes return to action with two road meets next weekend. Ohio State will travel to Richmond, Va., to battle the Richmond Spiders Saturday, Feb. 15 in a dual meet. The Scarlet and Gray will take on the College of William & Mary Sunday, Feb. 16 in Williamsburg, Va.