MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team opened its 2012 season in record-setting fashion, scoring 195.1 and finishing in second place in today’s home tri-meet at the WVU Coliseum in front of 1,041 fans.
Preseason-ranked No. 13 Penn State won the meet with a 195.775 score, while Maryland, an East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) foe, placed third with a score of 194.225.
The Mountaineers’ (1-1, 1-0 EAGL) score is the best season-opening team total in program history. WVU previously scored 194.8 in its 2007 season opener. The point total is just outside the program’s all-time top 50 team scores.
Today’s victory over the Terrapins is the first career win for first-year Mountaineer coach Jason Butts.
“The team far exceeded my expectations today,” says Butts, only the third WVU gymnastics coach in program history. “They did what I told them to do all fall – fight no matter what and do whatever it takes to not count a fall. We didn’t want any mistakes to rattle us.
“While this was my first meet as head coach, and there are many memories that will surround it, the one memory that will stick with me forever is the way this team fought and never gave up. The team embraced what I told them all preseason, and they went with it and made it work. That is the reason we had our highest season-opening score ever. The only place for us to go is up, and I’m very excited for this season.”
The Mountaineers tallied 49.075 on floor for their only team victory. WVU placed second on vault and beam with 48.825 and 48.6 scores, respectively, and third on bars with a 48.6 mark.
Sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer, in her second career all-around appearance, scored 39.3 and finished second overall. PSU’s Sharaya Musser finished first overall with a 39.5 showing, while teammate Kassidy Stauder scored 38.95 and finished third. Mountaineer senior Tina Maloney just missed the podium with a fourth place, 38.85 score.
Maloney accounted for the team’s only individual win, as she won floor outright with a career-best 9.875 score; the Hanover, Ind., native was the final gymnast to compete on the apparatus today.
The Nittany Lions opened the meet with a 48.875 score on bars; the squad would never relinquish its early lead. The Mountaineers were not far behind, as the team tallied 48.825 on vault. UMD opened the meet with a 48.3 beam score.
Just as she did as a freshman, Sloanhoffer anchored the team’s vault lineup with a second place, 9.875 score. Freshmen Dayah Haley and Lia Salzano were strong in their collegiate debuts, scoring 9.775 each and finishing in sixth place. Maloney and sophomore Bethany Yurko, in her first collegiate meet, scored 9.7 each.
PSU strengthened its margin in the second rotation, scoring 48.875 on beam and pushing its team total to 97.75. WVU’s bars total of 48.6 kept first place in reach, as the team’s running tally stood at 97.425. UMD scored 48.5 on floor and pushed its team total to 96.8.
Sloanhoffer and junior Kaylyn Millick anchored the bars rotation in the fifth and sixth spots, respectively, and scored 9.775 each; the score, a career-best for both gymnasts, was the meet’s second-best mark and good enough for fourth place. Senior Nicole Roach scored 9.725, while junior Chelsea Goldschrafe made her bars career debut and tallied 9.675.
WVU remained in second place through three rotations, tallying 48.6 on beam and pushing its team total to 146.025. PSU’s 49.025 floor rotation put its first-place team total at 146.775, while UMD earned 48.625 on vault and remained in third place with a 145.425 showing.
Three 9.8-plus scores at the bottom of the lineup highlighted the Mountaineers’ beam rotation, with freshman Beth Deal pacing the team in her collegiate debut and finishing second overall with a 9.825 mark. Sophomore Amanda Carpenter, also in her collegiate debut, tallied 9.8 and tied Sloanhoffer for third place.
Four scores of 9.8 or better pushed WVU toward its meet-winning floor mark. Sloanhoffer preceded Maloney in the lineup and finished in second place overall with a 9.85 point total, while Alaska Richardson scored a career-best 9.825 and finished in fifth place. Sophomore Makenzie Bristol matched a career-best score with a ninth place, 9.8 mark.
The Mountaineers remain at home and play host to EAGL opponent Rutgers next Sunday, Jan. 15, at 2 p.m., at the Coliseum.