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Women’s Gymnastics: Ohio State edges out Penn State for third Big Ten win

Ohio State junior Amanda Huang performing her routine on floor exercise against Penn State on Friday, Feb. 10, 2018. Credit: Megan Russell | Senior Lantern Reporter

The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) came out victorious against Penn State (2-4, 1-4 Big Ten), finishing with a razor-thin victory of 196.200-196.025 on Friday at St. John Arena.

“This is exactly what we’ve been training for all year,” Ohio State head coach Meredith Paulicivic said. “This is the team that I knew that we had, that no matter who I put in that lineup, I believe we can be a 196 team.”

The Buckeyes saw many lineup changes throughout the night. Senior Kaitlyn Hofland appeared for the first time in the vault and balance beam lineups, while sophomore Amanda Huang and freshman Brooke Chesney performed on floor in place of senior Alexis Mattern and freshman Jenna Swartzentruber.

“Resting some big guns tonight, a lot of people would have thought that was risky going up against Penn State, but I felt like it was the right thing to do for the kids, their health,” Paulicivic said. “I knew that our kids that I put in could step up and do the job, and that’s what they did.”

The Buckeyes took to the vault and posted a 49.050 total score in their first event of the night. Junior Jamie Stone and sophomore Olivia Aepli earned a 9.850 to share second place for the event. Junior Janelle McClelland also posted a 9.825 to tie her career-high score.

Ohio State started to gain momentum in its next performance on uneven parallel bars, earning a 49.175 overall total. Swartzentruber earned a 9.875 to take the No. 1 slot overall. Mattern also had a chance on the podium, garnering second place in a four-way tie with Penn State’s Briannah Tsang, Lauren Bridgens and Alissa Bonsall.

At the midpoint of the meet, the Buckeyes held a running score of 98.225, leading the Nittany Lions’ 97.900 tally after their first two events.

Moving to its third rotation on balance beam, Ohio State posted a 48.775 score. Mattern took a fall that resulted in a low 9.200 score. But the Buckeyes rallied with the rest of the lineup earning increasingly improving scores. Stone posted a 9.800 mark, the team-high of the night and a third-place score, shared with Penn State’s Mason Hosek, for the event.

“Being in front of a home crowd, obviously we get a little more nervous than we expect,” Stone said.  “It’s always down to those last routines that count the most, but we just stayed in our bubble, and didn’t let the crowd affect us.”

The Buckeyes did not disappoint on their final event, closing the night strong on floor exercise to post a 49.200 mark. Stone and senior Stefanie Merkle claimed a 9.875 tally to tie for first, alongside Tsang and Penn State’s Sabrina Garcia.

“I think we obviously knew it was a close meet, but we know we have a strong floor team, and it’s everybody’s favorite to perform because it’s fun and you’ve got the music, and the team is behind you,” Paulicivic said. “So I feel like we’re very comfortable to go over there, know that we’re going to do a good job, relax and have some fun and close out the meet.”

The Nittany Lions put up a fight to try to take the lead in their final event on balance beam, but came up short to finish the meet with a 196.025 score.

Ohio State earned its sixth win and second-highest final score of the season with a 196.200 finish, with seven other podium appearances.

Next up, Ohio State will be back at home in St. John Arena to take on Western Michigan at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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