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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Following a record-setting performance in its season opener, the West Virginia University gymnastics team continues its home stand and welcomes East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) foe Rutgers to the WVU Coliseum on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 2 p.m.
The Mountaineers (1-1, 1-0 EAGL) own a perfect 50-0 record over the Scarlet Knights and earned two wins over RU in 2011: a 194.075-191.15 decision on Jan. 29 in Morgantown, and a 193.725-193.625 victory at the EAGL Championship.
“I’m excited to have some stiff competition in the WVU Coliseum again this weekend,” says first-year Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “We’ve been lucky to have back-to-back home meets to open the 2012 season; it’s like we are just showing up at the Coliseum for practice. We haven’t had any distractions yet, and I think that shows in our gymnastics.”
Sunday’s meet will be a match-up between first-year coaches, as Butts will line up across from RU’s Louis Levine.
“I know Louis very well, I have a lot of respect for him, and I know he is doing a lot with Rutgers gymnastics,” explains Butts. “Rutgers has a lot of talent, and I’m expecting a great challenge from them.”
The Mountaineers (1-1, 1-0 EAGL) return after scoring 195.1 in their season-opening tri-meet against No. 13 Penn State (195.775) and Maryland (194.225); WVU’s score was the best season-opening point total in program history.
“I was happy with the team score, but I was most proud of the way the team fought,” says Butts, fresh off his first career win over the Terps. “We had a few missteps here and there, and after every one of those, the team fought back. Every student-athlete really bought into what I preached all preseason – never give up and always stay focused.
“Our energy was really high last week, and we have emphasized that we need to continue that this week. It’s really all about the group effort.”
Sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer, the reigning EAGL Gymnast of the Week, paced the Mountaineers in their season opener with a second place, 39.3 overall score. The Cornwall, N.Y., native finished second on vault (9.875) and floor (9.85), third on beam (9.8) and fourth on bars (9.775); her bars and all-around marks were career highs.
Senior Tina Maloney also was strong in her second career all-around appearance, as she placed fourth overall (38.85) and finished first outright on floor with a career-best 9.875 mark.
Five Mountaineers made their career debuts last weekend, including freshman Beth Deal, the current EAGL Rookie of the Week. The Parkersburg, W.Va., native finished second on beam with a 9.825 mark; the only gymnast to score higher was PSU’s Sharaya Musser (9.9), a 2011 NCAA National Championships individual qualifier.
Deal’s classmates, Dayah Haley and Lia Salzano, debuted with 9.775 marks on vault, good enough for sixth place, while sophomores Amanda Carpenter and Bethany Yurko opened their collegiate careers with a 9.8 beam score and a 9.7 vault mark, respectively; Carpenter tied Sloanhoffer for third place on beam.
The Scarlet Knights (0-1, 0-1 EAGL) opened their 2012 campaign on Jan. 7 with a 191.05-189.575 loss to New Hampshire in Piscataway, N.J. Five all-arounders contributed to RU’s team score, with sophomore Louisa Leal, the 2011 EAGL Rookie of the Year, posting meet highs in the all-around (39.0), vault (9.85) and bars (9.825).
Fans can purchase tickets to Sunday’s meet at the door, with tickets for adults available for $5 and for youth and seniors for $3 each. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $2 each.
A free WVU student shuttle bus will be available from the Mountainlair and the Brooke/Braxton Towers loop for an hour leading up to the meet’s start time. Return service to the Mountainlair and the Brooke/Braxton Towers loop also will be available at the conclusion of the meet.