MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team continues its season-opening road trip at Maryland on Friday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m., at the Comcast Center, in College Park, Md.
Friday’s meeting is the first of two this season between the Mountaineers (1-2) and the Terrapins (0-1). Former foes in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL), the teams have met 11 times since 2009, with WVU owning an 8-3 record. The Mountaineers lead the overall series record, 36-15-1.
“I think we match-up well with Maryland,” says Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “We recruit a lot of the same gymnasts, and I think there’s a bit of a friendly rivalry developing between the teams. This will be an exciting meet.
“I want to make sure the cylinders are all firing at full-speed Friday night. The team has worked hard this week in Cary Gym, and I want to hit 24-for-24 and build confidence.”
WVU and UMD split their 2013 meetings, with each team earning a victory in its home venue. The Mountaineers fell, 196.175-195.775, at UMD, then-ranked No. 18, on Feb. 17. Both teams defeated Rutgers (195.05), and the score was the Mountaineers’ top road mark of the season and its best in a regular-season road meet since scoring 197.4 in 2004.
The Mountaineers avenged that loss at the WVU Coliseum on March 15, trumping the Terrapins, 196.05-194.8. Again, both teams defeated RU (194.175). The Mountaineers swept the team events, and of this year’s returnees, sophomore Jaida Lawrence
won vault (9.9) and senior Hope Sloanhoffer
won beam (9.875) and the all-around (39.25).
WVU enters the meet ranked No. 15 nationally on the uneven bars, having scored 48.95 in its season opener at No. 21 Kentucky on Jan. 10. The team’s score would have been its second-highest mark in 2013 and is WVU’s best road bars score since earning 49.175 at the 2012 EAGL Championship at Pitt.
Freshman Alexa Goldberg
ranks No. 3 nationally on bars, winning the event at UK with a 9.925 score. Only two Utah gymnasts have scored higher than the Ivyland, Pa., native this season. Additionally, Lawrence ranks No. 31 on vault, while Sloanhoffer ranks No. 36 on bars and freshman Nicolette Swoboda
is No. 42 in the all-around.
The Mountaineers finished third in their season opener with a 193.7 score. The Wildcats scored 195.0 and finished first, while No. 15 Penn State placed third (193.975) and Ball State finished fourth (190.875).
“I think a few of the gymnasts were shocked at some of the mistakes we made last Friday. This week, we spent time correcting a few of our tumbling passes, and we reminded the team that we do not have to reinvent the wheel,” says Butts. “They were ready last week, and we reminded them of that.
“Overall, I really liked the fight that I saw in this team. We could have counted several falls on beam had we not fought to stay on. I also liked that no one panicked. Additionally, they exceeded my expectations on bars, which was good. There was a lot of good in our performance at Kentucky.”
In addition to Goldberg’s bars win, Lawrence also took an event victory, as the Rocky Hill, Conn., native scored 9.85 on vault. She has scored below 9.825 on the event just once in 13 career meets.
Swoboda scored three top-10 finishes and placed fifth in the all-around with a 38.8 mark. Junior Lia Salzano
paced the team on beam with a fourth place, 9.725 finish, while sophomore Melissa Idell
opened the floor lineup with a 9.8 mark, the second-best score earned that night and good enough for a share of fifth place.
Ranked No. 24 in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Terrapins opened 2014 with a 194.8-192.05 loss at Central Michigan on Jan. 10. Kathy Tang scored the bars win (9.825) for UMD, while Stephanie Giameo won beam (9.8). Giameo led the Terps with a second place, 38.5 showing in the all-around, and Tang paced the team on vault (9.775) and floor (9.775). UMD ranks sixth in the EAGL.