BOWLING GREEN - The Bowling Green State University gymnastics team opens the 2013 season against No. 14 Ohio State Saturday at 4 p.m. in Anderson Arena.
The Buckeyes, who finished tenth at last year's NCAA Championships, will be the Falcons' highest-ranked opponent since the team met No. 4 Oklahoma in last season's Kentucky Classic.
Head coach Kerrie Beach says the team has been hard at work preparing for the meet and that expectations are high.
"Our goal is to start the season without counting a fall in our team score," she said. "We will continue to add to our lineups as we return some key athletes from injury. However, this weekend we have six solid gymnasts on every event. Overall, it is always a team effort and we are relying on the team to focus only on what we are capable of based on what we have been training in the gym."
Bowling Green returns nearly all of its depth from 2012, as the team graduated only one senior, Dawn Christman. Each of the Falcons' school-record four NCAA regional qualifiers returns, including MAC Freshman of the Year Jamilah Ali. All-around gymnasts Megan Harrington and Gina Locigno will be relied upon for leadership and big skills, as both have shown upgraded difficulty in the preseason. The team will also benefit from the addition of freshman talent Alyssa Nocella, who placed first on floor exercise at the 2012 Junior Olympic National Championships.
The Falcons are no strangers to the Buckeyes, as the two teams also met in 2009 and 2011. Bowling Green's new assistant coach, Taylor Jones, graduated from Ohio State in 2012 and helped lead the Buckeyes to their first NCAA Championships appearance in over 20 years. She coaches her first meet on Saturday as the Falcons square off against her alma mater.
The BGSU gymnastics team hosts five home meets this year in Anderson Arena, as the Falcons will face Texas Woman's University Jan. 12, Kent State Feb. 2, Eastern Michigan and Ball State Feb. 23 and Western Michigan March 16. Admission is free to all home meets.