No. 10 Gymnastics Team Opens Season Saturday At No. 14 Denver

Jan. 8, 2002

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THIS WEEK: The Oregon State gymnastics team, picked 10th in the preseason coaches poll, will open the 2002 season Saturday, January 12 at No. 14 Denver in a meet scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PST. It will also be the season opener for the Pioneers.

ANOTHER TOUGH SCHEDULE IN STORE FOR OREGON STATE: If the preseason rankings hold true, the Beavers will have yet another difficult schedule this season. OSU is slated to face five of the top nine teams in the preseason poll. The 10th-ranked Beavers also have meets scheduled against four other Top 25 teams. Last year OSU faced six of the top eight teams teams during the regular season.

A MIXTURE OF OLD AND NEW: There are several new faces on this year's OSU squad. In fact, nearly half the team is made up of newcomers. Of the 15 gymnasts on the team, eight are returning from last year's team that placed 11th at nationals. The other seven gymnasts are freshmen. The Beavers return seniors Jerra Lopez and Soni Meduna, juniors Annie Campbell, Lyndsay Dixon and Elizabeth Jillson, and sophomores Lindsay Nelson, Tanya Ricioli and Elaine Yoder. The newcomers are Heidi Goehring, Daylee Ingalls, Meghan Jones, Heather Justus, Christa Piazza, Alisha Stephenson and Th�r�se Videan.

THE BEAVERS VS. THE PIONEERS: Oregon State and Denver have met four times in gymnastics, with OSU holding a 3-1 edge. The Pioneers picked up their first and only win against the Beavers last year in a three-way meet at Arizona. Denver placed second with a 194.825, with OSU finishing third with a 194.575. Saturday's meet will mark the first time the Beavers have competed at Denver. Of the four previous meetings, one was in Corvallis (1997) and three were in neutral gyms (Arizona in 2001, Stanford in 1997 and UCLA in 1994).

A LOOK AT DENVER: The Pioneers are coming off a 12th-place showing at the NCAA Championships last year, when Denver advanced to nationals for the first time in school history. The team returns nine gymnasts, including All-American vaulter Ashley Shible, from that squad.

HOME OPENER, AT LEAST FOR TWO BEAVERS: While Oregon State officially opens its season at Denver, it will feel somewhat like a home meet for two Beavers. Lindsay Nelson and Alisha Stephenson are both Colorado natives who came to Corvallis from areas close to the Denver area. Nelson is from Westminster, a suburb on the north side of Denver, while Stephenson hails from Boulder, about 30 miles northwest of the capital city. The two were club teammates at Gymnastics Unlimited. Oregon State's official home opener is set for 7 p.m., January 25 against BYU.

AN ALL-AROUND EFFORT: Oregon State could have four gymnasts competing all-around at the Denver meet this weekend. As of Tuesday, Annie Campbell, Jerra Lopez, Lindsay Nelson and Tanya Ricioli are all likely to compete all four events against the Pioneers. Campbell competed all-around in 13 of 14 meets last year, but the other three were hampered by injuries in 2001. Lopez competed all-around in the first three meets last year before an Achilles' tendon injury kept her out for the rest of the season. Ricioli was supposed to compete in the all-around at last year's season opener, but she tore her Achilles' in the third rotation of that meet. Nelson competed all four events in the second meet last season and was scheduled to compete all-around at the next meet, but a sprained ankle in the third rotation kept her from competing the rest of the meet. She never competed more than three events the rest of the season.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PROBABLE LINEUPS:

VAULT: OSU lost first team All-Americans in Lara Degenhardt and Katrina Severin from the vault lineup, but the Beavers should be in better shape as a team on the event this year. Annie Campbell is expected to lead the vault team in 2002, with Lindsay Nelson, Jerra Lopez and Tanya Ricioli also expected back in the lineup on vault. Filling in the two spots left open by Degenhardt and Severin should be rookies Heather Justus and Th�r�se Videan. Justus was third at the Junior Olympic national meet last year, while Videan - who performs the same vault Degenhardt did - was 11th at the J.O. meet after taking fifth in 2000. Freshman Daylee Ingalls, who was fourth at J.O.s, may work her way into the lineup as the season progresses.

BARS: The Beaver bar team will continue to be led by Elizabeth Jillson, who missed All-American honors by a mere .025 points a year ago. Jillson, among several others, has been working on an upgraded dismount that should make her an even stronger force on the event. OSU also expects to put four other returnees on the bars this weekend, with Jerra Lopez, Tanya Ricioli, Annie Campbell and Lindsay Nelson all likely to make the bars lineup at Denver. Freshman Heidi Goehring, who missed the 2001 J.O. meet because of an injury but placed second on bars at the 2000 meet, will also likely be in the lineup at Denver. Th�r�se Videan or Meghan Jones may perform an exhibition routine this weekend as well.

BEAM: Oregon State has a solid core of returnees on this event as well, depsite losing three seniors (including All-American Katrina Severin) from last year's lineup. Annie Campbell was one place shy of All-American status last year, and she looks to lead the team on the event again this year. Also expected back in the beam lineup are Elaine Yoder and Lindsay Nelson, as well as Tanya Ricioli and Jerra Lopez, who didn't compete last year because of injuries but put up solid marks in other seasons. Heidi Goehring is also likely to compete on beam this weekend, although several other freshmen - Meghan Jones, Alisha Stephenson and Daylee Ingalls - are in the mix for an exhibition routine this week and could challenge for lineup spots later in the year.

FLOOR: Although the Beavers lost three seniors (including All-American Lara Degenhardt), watch for upgraded tumbling and an experienced lineup from the Beavers on this event. Tanya Ricioli, a second team All-American on the event in 2000, as well as Annie Campbell, Jerra Lopez and Elaine Yoder are all likely to compete on floor this weekend. Lindsay Nelson looks to become a regular on the event as well after an ankle injury kept her off the event for all but one meet (plus two additional exhibitions) last year. Th�r�se Videan took 11th on floor at the 2001 J.O. national meet and should play a key role for OSU on the event this season. Heather Justus will likely perform an exhibition routine this weekend as she looks to crack the lineup as well.

HEAD COACH TANYA CHAPLIN: Tanya Chaplin is in her fifth season as head gymnastics coach at OSU. She has guided the Beavers to back-to-back trips to the NCAA Championships and has been named OSU's Female Coach of the Year the past two years. In 1999, she was named Pacific-10 Coach of the Year. Chaplin enters the 2002 season with a career record of 34-24 for the regular season and 66-47 including postseason competition. She was an assistant coach at Washington for seven years before moving to OSU. Formerly Tanya Service, she was a six-time All-American and held six school records while competing for UCLA from 1986-89.

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