Flashy introductions, 2,000 screaming fans and even a marching band highlight Ohio State’s gymnastics meets at the new Covelli Center. The $48.9 million arena officially opened in June, replacing the older St. John’s that the team previously called home. It hosts the school’s fencing, wrestling, men’s and women’s gymnastics and men’s and women’s volleyball teams.
One aspect of the new arena that the team loves is the fact that the seats go all the way to the floor, allowing the fans to be right next to the action.
“It seems like there’s so many more fans in there,” senior Olivia Aepli said. “They’re closer to the floor, so you can just feel their energy. It gets you so pumped up to do your routines and hit them.”
This arena is the latest chapter in the new era of Ohio State gymnastics, which began when head coach Meredith Paulicivic took over the program in 2017. Since she started, the team has shown flashes of greatness, but there are still several things the team is working to improve.
So far this season, vault and bars have been the Buckeyes’ strongest events. They’ve also been excellent at sticking their landings. However, beam and floor have seen some struggles. Paulicivic said that the team worked hard in the offseason to improve flexibility, leaps, tumbling and artistry, and that hard work shows in the gym. The struggle has been bringing these skills to competition.
“We’ve just got to really figure out how to bring those routines into the arena with as much confidence as we’re bringing to vault and bars,” Paulicivic said.
In their meet against Minnesota, the Buckeyes were finally able to put together a complete beam rotation without counting a fall. When asked what the team did to improve on the performances from the past several weeks, Paulicivic said they’ve been working on pressure sets and also trying to figure out the best possible lineup order. Most importantly, the team needs to have confidence that they will hit their routines.
“That’s the big thing for me right now: just getting them to believe in how good they are so they can go out and do it,” Paulicivic said.
If the Buckeyes can find the confidence to hit their routines in competition the way they do in practice, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten Conference.
Article by Mary Emma Burton
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