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  • GYMNASTICS

    Oregon fertile ground for Beavers' recruiting

  • The Oregon State gymnastics team always likes to check its own backyard for talent.
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  • The Oregon State gymnastics team always likes to check its own backyard for talent.
    The current roster includes four in-state gymnasts with another on the way next year.
    Long a top-10 program and one of the top three on the West Coast, OSU attracts athletes from all over the globe. But OSU has found a steady stream of athletes in Oregon.
    As the lone college gymnastics program in the state, many young Oregonians focus on Corvallis as a destination.
    "We do look at Oregon first," associate head coach Michael Chaplin said. "We know all the coaches and clubs. It's easy to get to competitions and see them coming up at a young age and make contact as soon as possible."
    Three of the four Oregon gymnasts this year are walk-ons — Taylor Keeker from Keizer, Katelyn Ohlrich from Bend and Hannah Casey from Portland.
    Chelsea Tang, a sophomore from Eugene, was the prized recruit last season. Oregon's top recruit this year is Kaytianna McMillan of Coburg, who has already signed with the Beavers.
    "Oregon gymnasts have overall a huge work ethic," head coach Tanya Chaplin said. "The athletes who come out of the state, they have a great attitude, they are team players and work hard. And they are not burnt out when the come to college."
    Casey, a junior, is an example of a strong work ethic. She spent her freshman season developing on the uneven bars and only performed in exhibitions.
    She became the leadoff gymnast on the event last season. That's her niche and she strives to develop her skills in other events.
    While she's not the star, she was named a team captain this year for her lead-by-example work ethic.
    "Region 2 (the Northwest) is not the strongest of regions (for youth gymnastics), but Oregon is pretty good," Casey said. "There's good training here. My club coaches trained us like we were in college, so coming here, the adjustment wasn't that big for me."
    Tang came out of the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics, which has become OSU's local go-to club. Former standout Jami Lanz and McMillan, the recruit, came out of there.
    Out-of-area coaches who worked at the elite level have relocated to Oregon and helped in development, Tang said.
    "I think Oregon gymnastics is definitely coming up," Tang said. "There are a lot of good clubs. You see Texas and California with all the elite clubs people notice compared to Oregon, but we do produce a lot of good gymnasts with potential."
    Besides being the only collegiate program in the state, they are also the class of the Northwest.
    The Beavers don't have to battle the Ducks for recruits. That helps since there are only one or two Division I gymnasts each year from the state. Ducks fans, such as Tang, who love gymnastics must embrace the Beavers.
    OSU can also bring in quality walk-ons such as Keeker, Ohlrich and Casey because it's affordable for in-state walk-ons to attend.
    "Oregon State is definitely what every gymnast wants to strive for," Casey said. "At our meets, little girls come to us and say how they want to be like us."
    The Beavers still have to work hard to secure the local recruits. If they are talented, others are interested, too.
    Casey Jo McGee of Eugene became one of the most decorated gymnasts in Arkansas history from 2007-10.
    "Luckily, we are the only program and they grew up watching Oregon State gymnastics and seeing how popular it is and how many fans we have, and they want to be here," Michael Chaplin said. "We'll lose a few here and there. They decide to go elsewhere. That happens."
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