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Women’s gymnastics: Ohio State tops Western Michigan to earn 4th consecutive win

Ohio State junior Amanda Huang performs on balance beam during a meet against Western Michigan on Feb. 17. Credit: Megan Russell | Senior Lantern Reporter

After a night of  “mixed bag” performances, the Ohio State women’s gymnastics team (7-3, 3-2 Big Ten) still managed to garner its fourth consecutive win Saturday, topping Western Michigan (3-3) by a final score of 195.725-193.900.

“The meet, as a whole for me, was a ‘mixed bag,’” head coach Meredith Paulicivic said. “Some things were very flat, but some people also got to step in and do really good things tonight.”

Coming back from two falls through the course of the competition — one from sophomore Olivia Aepli during the second rotation on uneven parallel bars, and the other from freshman Morgan Lowe during the third rotation on balance beam — the Buckeyes managed to show strong performances on floor exercise to finish the night and take the win.

“I think there were definitely a lot of moments where we could have taken advantage of opportunities where we didn’t, especially because we did have an awesome week of practice this week,” senior Kaitlyn Hofland said.

Hofland added: “But I also think there were a lot of moments, at least for me, that made my heart really happy, because some girls got to go in who haven’t competed — it’s been a while since they have, and they did a really great job tonight.”

Opening the night on vault, the Buckeyes posted a 48.900 total, with Aepli earning the team-high and first-place score of 9.850. Second place was a four-way tie between junior Jamie Stone, Hofland, junior Janelle McClelland and Western Michigan’s Taylor Buis. All posted a 9.775 for the event.

In the second rotation on uneven parallel bars, despite the setback from Aepli taking a fall during her routine and posting a 9.350, Ohio State still finished with a 49.050 tally to clear the podium.

Freshman Jenna Swartzentruber shined with a team-best 9.900 to earn first in the event. Coming closely behind were Hofland and senior Alexis Mattern. They posted scores of 9.850 and 9.825, respectively, to earn second and third place.

At the midpoint of the meet, the Buckeyes stood in first, holding a 97.950 running total. The Broncos trailed with a score of 96.575 after their first two events on uneven parallel bars (48.100) and vault (48.475).

Moving to its third rotation, Ohio State finished with a 48.350 tally on balance beam. Hofland earned the team-high for the event with a 9.750 mark, but the Buckeyes took on a second fall of the night — this time from Lowe, who posted a score of 8.925.

Western Michigan earned a 48.925 score after performing in its third rotation on floor exercise.

The meet came to a close with a strong finish on floor exercise from Ohio State pulling a 49.425 tally and event high of the night. The standout performance came from freshman Brooke Chesney. In setting a career-high score of 9.925, Chesney earned first place for the event. Her score also was the highest of the night.

“I was very excited for myself, but I know I wouldn’t be able to do it without my team,” Chesney said. “They are the ones who motivate me, day in and day out, so them having my back just means so much to me. Whenever I’m in the corners and they’re cheering me one, that’s what gets me through a floor routine.”

Stone and senior Stefanie Merkle followed close behind Chesney, each earning a 9.900 to share second place.

“They know they’re good on floor,” Paulicivic said. “They know that whoever we put in on floor lineup can do their job and hit their stuff, so they’re very, very confident there. We need to have that same effort and attitude on the other three events, and that’s what we’re working on.”

Western Michigan posted a 48.400 on its last rotation on balance beam, but that was not enough to propel them past Ohio State.

“You always take the ‘W,’ you always take that,” Paulicivic said. “You take a win, you take it, but certainly we’re going to learn a lot from tonight, and hopefully this is a good thing for us coming down the stretch.”

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