No. 25 Gymnastics Scores Big

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • February 24, 2013 06:18 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Season-best marks on three events powered the No. 25-ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team to a second-place finish at the first-ever “Wendy M. Roach Invitational” Pink Meet, today, at the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (8-6, 1-1 Big 12) scored a season-high 196.55 and finished behind invitational winner, No. 3 Michigan (196.925). New Hampshire finished third (194.875) and Towson placed fourth (193.15).

WVU’s team total is its 10th-best mark in program history. The squad has now scored 196.0 or better in three straight home meets, a feat only achieved once before in 2004.

“Today was a great day,” second-year coach Jason Butts says. “I’m really proud of this team – all of their hard work in Cary Gym is showing through in their performances. This has to be the most consistent squad I’ve coached throughout my years in Morgantown.”

WVU finished first on the uneven bars with a 48.9 score. The squad scored season highs on vault (49.25), beam (49.075) and floor (49.325) and finished behind UM on each event.

The Mountaineers’ meet ended on a solid note on floor, as the squad scored a season-high 49.325 on the strength of four marks of 9.8 or better. The rotation included respective career-best scores of 9.925 and 9.95 from seniors Alaska Richardson and Kaylyn Millick; Millick finished first, while Richardson placed third. Millick is the first WVU gymnast to score 9.95 or better on floor since Mehgan Morris did so against Kentucky in 2009.

“To close the meet with two solid performances and for those scores to push us to our season-best team total – wow,” Butts adds. “That was just fun, and it helps build the confidence of this team. That will be what’s fresh on their minds next week, and that rotation is what will help us climb higher. They just need to keep having fun – they’re winning this season every day in the gym.”

WVU hit 24-for-24 for the first time this year and tallied 16 scores of 9.8 or better.

“Hitting every routine is our goal each week,” explains Butts. “That’s all we can control, so that will remain the focus as the season moves on. Hitting our routines is what will fuel our success.”

In addition to its noteworthy scores, the Mountaineers also collected sundry items for donation to Morgantown’s Betty Puskar Breast Care Center.

“Today’s pink meet was a huge success, and I’m so happy this team was able to put on a worthy performance in memory of Wendy,” says Butts. “We also had a great response from the community today, and I want to thank all that brought donations. I also want to thank all of the WVU teams in attendance, especially the women’s soccer team, as they helped collect the donations at the door.”

Millick won the all-around competition for the third straight meet with a 39.35 score. Since earning a career-best 39.4 on Feb. 1, the Washington, Pa., native has tallied four consecutive 39.0+ marks.

UNH’s Kayla Gray finished second with a 39.25, while Mountaineer junior Hope Sloanhoffer tallied 39.1, her third-best score of the season, and finished third.

Freshman Jaida Lawrence, ranked No. 36 nationally, anchored the vault lineup for the second straight meet and tied for second place with a career-best 9.9 score. The Rocky Hill, Conn., native has scored the mark three times this season. A trio of Mountaineers – Millick, Sloanhoffer and Richardson – scored 9.85 and finished sixth overall; the score is a career high for Millick. Sophomore Dayah Haley opened the lineup with a 9.8.

Sloanhoffer paced the team on bars with a 9.825 and finished third. Millick followed in the anchor position with a 9.8, good enough for fifth place, while Haley opened the rotation with a season-best 9.775 and finished eighth. Lawrence and junior Erica Smith rounded out the team score with 9.75s.

Sophomore Beth Deal, ranked No. 41 nationally on beam, continued her hot streak, scoring a season best 9.875 and finishing in second place. Classmate Lia Salzano finished third with a career-best 9.85, while Sloanhoffer and junior Amanda Carpenter tied for 10th place with 9.8s.

All five counting Mountaineer floor scores were either career or season bests. In addition to Millick and Richardson’s career finishes, senior Chelsea Goldschrafe and junior Makenzie Bristol tied for 11th place with season-best 9.825s, while freshman Melissa Idell opened the rotation with a career-high 9.8.

With today’s loss to the Wolverines (12-1, 5-1 Big Ten), WVU drops to 1-6 against ranked opponents this season. The squad also drops to 17-4 in the all-time series with UM. The Mountaineers improve to 27-9 against UNH (10-5, 4-2 EAGL) and 18-10 against Towson (7-10, 0-4 EAGL).

The Mountaineers stay at home and host their second straight quad meet next Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m., at the Coliseum. WVU will compete against No. 13 Denver, George Washington and Temple.