OSU gymnastics team celebrates senior Kaitlyn Hofland, who earned a career high of 9.925 on uneven parallel bars during 2018 season premiere after recovery from shoulder surgery. She competed against Minnesota and Illinois State Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at St. John Arena. Credit: Megan Russell | Senior Lantern Reporter

After coming in first in a quad-meet on the road Saturday, the Ohio State women’s gymnastics team (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) returns to Columbus, ready for a match with Penn State at 6 p.m. Friday. But it won’t be facing the Nittany Lions alone.

The Ohio State men’s gymnastics team also will compete against Penn State in a co-ed meet.

“It’s exciting because we train side-by-side with them every day, so to be able to be in the same meet and cheer each other on is a really special thing for the athletes,” head coach Meredith Paulicivic said. “That being said, it’s a conference meet, it’s important for both of us, the men and the women, so I think all of us are preparing to go out there and be ready and have a good competition, but also support one another.”

Like the Buckeyes, who posted a 195.850 total score in their last meet, Penn State (2-3, 1-3 Big Ten) has seen a similar slow start to its season. It has improved in its last few meets, taking a victory against Michigan State on Sunday with a 195.600 total score.

With a potential win from the upcoming meet, both Ohio State and Penn State have a chance to advance one rank in the conference play.

“They are a really good team, much like us,” freshman Morgan Lowe said. “We’re very back-to-back, and I think it’s actually going to be really cool to have such a challenge.”

Ohio State also has a chance to crack the top 25 if it can come away with a win against Penn State.

With the stakes so high for the meet, Paulicivic has tried to keep the team composed by giving them a light week of practice. The focus of the week was to improve routines and look at possible combinations in different event lineups.

“This is that time of the year where it’s been going and going and going, and some people need a rest, and so we’ll put some other people in,” Paulicivic said. “So that’s kind of the plan for the rest of the month, we’ll continue to shift lineups around a lit bit and rest people as needed.”

Entering the competition against Penn State, the plan for the Buckeyes is to stay focused.

“I think keeping that momentum going is kind of important, and not really thinking of hitting 24/24, and just getting in there and doing what we know how to do,” junior Jamie Stone said.