March 18, 2002
A two-year hiatus in national synchronized swimming meets at Wheaton College comes to an end in March when the 2002 U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships land at Balfour Natatorium in Norton.
More than 150 of the world's top athletes from 21 universities will vie for bragging rights in the solo, duet, trio and team events. The championships are an open-class meet, combining competition for NCAA Divisions I, II and III, plus NAIA schools. Competition begins March 21 with finals slated for March 23.
Ohio State University will attempt to repeat as U.S. Collegiate champions, and earn its 22nd overall title, by holding off the fly-by of the Stanford University Cardinal. Host university Wheaton College hopes to improve on its sixth-place finish from 2001.
"The level of collegiate synchronized swimming continues to improve with more and more athletes recognizing the importance of attaining a college degree," said Wheaton coach Mary Kay Adams. "Fifteen of the top 25 athletes in the nation will be competing here this year. We're expecting a very competitive meet."
Add into that mix nine current U.S. National Team members, plus two members of the Brazilian Olympic Team and spectators are sure to witness synchro at it's the highest level.
The young Wheaton squad is led by sophomore Beth Percy, who finished sixth at the 2001 Championships. Percy and junior Jamie Sallier, both natives of St. Louis, Mo., took eighth in duet.
Ohio State ran away with the 2001 title by sweeping all four events behind Brazilian Olympians Carolina & Isabela de Moraes. OSU topped Stanford 97-88, followed by Canisius, UAB and Richmond.
OSU coach Linda Witter enters her seventh season at the Buckeyes' helm guiding a veteran squad which includes six 2001 National Teamers. Other Bucks to watch include Victoria Bowen (Plano, Texas), Suzanna Hyatt (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Kim Lester (Cincinnati, Ohio).
Stanford brings a loaded deck to the table as well, boasting a 12-person roster including seven former U.S. National Team members. Leading the way are 2001 U.S. World Championships Team members Katie Norris (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Lindsey Wigginton (Chula Vista, Calif.), and five-time national teamer Erin Dobratz (Clayton, Calif.).
Other top contenders include University of Alabama-Birmingham, Canisius College (Buffalo, NY), University of Richmond, University of Washington and University of Arizona.
OSU is attempting to win its third consecutive, and 22nd overall title in the 26th year of the championships. Top athletes advance to the U.S. National Championships and World Cup Team Trials, April 18-20 in Oxford, Ohio.