Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team lost the battle for the gold this past weekend after four months of preparation.
After a season filled with great victories and humbling falls, the women’s gymnastics team’s 2013 season came to a bittersweet close as it took fourth place at the NCAA Regional Championships Saturday evening at St. John Arena.
“I really thought we had a chance,” said junior all-around specialist Sarah Miller. “Other teams did better and scores show for it … I thought we had a chance, I really did.”
The Buckeyes finished with a 196.050 after competing with No. 5 LSU, No. 6 UCLA, No. 17 Arizona, Central Michigan and North Carolina State along with individual competitors.
LSU took the first-place title with 197.275, UCLA came in second with 196.950 and Arizona took third with 196.100.
“Coming in as a fourth-seeded team, we really had nothing to lose,” said junior all-around gymnast Melanie Shaffer. “We didn’t have a ranking to defend and we were at home in our own arena so we just used the energy all around us.”
The season hasn’t ended for all of the Buckeyes, though, as Miller and Shaffer will go on to represent OSU at the NCAA Nationals.
“It was a really good beat for us,” said OSU women’s gymnastics coach Carey Fagan. “Obviously we would have liked to be top two, but UCLA and LSU are really great teams, so we are really excited to be taking two individuals to nationals and looking forward to hopefully getting some All-Americans out there.”
Shaffer qualified with a fourth-place finish in the all-around after earning a score of 39.325.
“I’m really excited (about) making it individually,” Shaffer said. “It would have been better if our whole team would have went, but I’m still looking at the positives and excited about going to California, and I have another teammate that will be going with me, so it’s a really fun and cool experience to look forward to.”
Miller excelled at the balance beam, tying with LSU’s Jessie Jordan for first-place and career-best with a 9.950 and qualifying her to move forward to nationals.
“I’m excited,” said Miller, smiling while catching her breath fresh off the floor. “It stinks to be going without your team because the first time I ever went was with my team, so it’s disappointing, but at the same time it’s a learning experience for everybody.”
In 2012, the Buckeyes advanced to the NCAA Nationals for the first time since 1990.
This season alone, Miller earned five Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week awards and snagged a first-place title on the balance beam at the Big Ten Championships in March, a title she tied for with senior teammate Aly Marohn.
“They are the first Big Ten champions we have had on any of the four events since 1999,” assistant coach Meredith Yonushonis said in an email.
Marohn, a senior balance beam specialist, received 28th place for balance beam at the NCAA regionals, but said she understands that the past is in the past.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m really disappointed,” Marohn said. “That was the best routine of my career and I couldn’t have done anything different.”
Marohn was shy of advancing to nationals by 0.025.
“Aly had the best routine of her life. I mean, it was amazing, so I’m extremely proud of her for ending her career on that,” Miller said.
For the 2014 season, the Buckeyes will be losing two seniors off of their roster of 15, but Fagan said the five current juniors will move up in their places.
“Next year, the senior class is going to be really strong, season-wise and athletically as well,” Fagan said. “We have to be sharp.”
Fagan said she was satisfied with the way the team’s season ended.
“One of our mottos this season was to be undeniable, and you have to be undeniably good,” Fagan said. “Which we did.”
The NCAA Championships are scheduled for April 19-21 in Los Angeles.