Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
The No. 20 Ohio State women’s gymnastics team will take on the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines Friday at St. John Arena for the 2013 Pink Meet.
Last week, the Buckeyes fell, 195.575-194.675, in a dual meet against Penn State, but OSU coach Carey Fagan said the return of an ill player will help the team score higher this meet.
“We have one coming back from mono,” Fagan said referring to all-around freshman Audrey Tolbert. “I think having Audrey back in the vault line up will be a big boost for us and hopefully we’ll be able to add in more routines that we didn’t have last week at Penn State.”
The pieces for winning, Fagan said, are in place.
“I think competitively, we have the right level of athletes on our team to compete with a team that’s ranked three in the country,” Fagan said.
OSU is ranked 16th nationally on vault (49.000), 21st on uneven bars (48.770) and 24th on balance beam (48.695).
“You know, to compete with the No. 3 team in the country, it’s going to have to be 49s across the board in all of the events,” Fagan said. “The girls are going to have to step it up.”
Along with going head-to-head with OSU’s biggest sports rival, the meet against Michigan is particularly important from a historical standpoint.
“This is the first year that Big Ten has done conference scheduling for gymnastics in history,” Fagan said.
Last season the Buckeyes fell against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Mich., 195.500-195.175, but that hasn’t disheartened Fagan.
“I think any time Michigan comes to town, every athlete is on kind of a heightened awareness wanting to put out their absolute best,” Fagan said. “My team is no different because everybody is hungry to pull off an upset.”
Melanie Shaffer, a junior all-around gymnast, said the Wolverines perform well on the “floor, beam and vault, but I think their bars are a little sharper.”
“But it’s nothing we can’t handle,” she added.
The Wolverines are nationally ranked among the top 10 in all four events. They are ranked second on balance beam, third on both uneven bars and floor exercise and ninth on vault.
Although excited about the meet, the Buckeyes are maintaining a calm and collected approach.
“I think if we just stay positive and we hit the routines that we are capable of hitting then we’ll be fine,” Shaffer said. “We just have to relax and let all of the landings come to us.”
Friday’s meet marks the halfway point of the 2013 season for the Buckeyes.
“Every week we try to find something to improve on where we can train differently,” said Sarah Miller, junior all-around gymnast. “If everyone performs at their personal best, you have a team that’s performing at their personal best.”
Shaffer added that OSU will be performing at its best for another reason as well.
“As Buckeyes, we don’t want the state up north to win and we’ll give them a fight,” Shaffer said.
The meet is slated to begin at 7 p.m.