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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 24-ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team welcomes No. 11 Ohio State, No. 13 Auburn and Ball State on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum.
The contest, the Mountaineers’ (5-2, 3-0 EAGL) lone home quad-meet of the season, will serve as the team’s annual “Pink Meet,” and fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness.
Sunday’s meet also is a “Dollar Day,” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas available for $1 each. Additionally, as part of the WVU Student Government Association’s Random Acts of Kindness Week, fans are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item with them Sunday for donation.
“There’s going to be a lot going on during the meet, and I think it’s going to be very entertaining for the fans,” says first-year coach Jason Butts. “We’re excited for the ‘Pink Meet.’ Breast cancer awareness is a cause that is very important to this team.”
The Mountaineers, down four sports in the GymInfo Poll despite a season-high score of 195.775 on Jan. 29, continue their two-week swing of out-of-league meets. The squad seeks its first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 25 NC State, 193.725-193.45, at the 2011 East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championship on March 19.
Sunday’s meeting is the second in as many years for WVU and OSU (4-2, 2-2 Big Ten), with the Buckeyes earning a 195.6-195.1 home win in 2011. OSU leads the all-time series, 15-11.
WVU last faced the Tigers (2-6, 0-4 SEC) in 2008, with Auburn earning a 195.475-192.75 win in a tri-meet at LSU (197.05). WVU also trails in the all-time series with Auburn, 3-6.
The Mountaineers and the Cardinals (1-4, 0-3 MAC) meet for the first time in seven seasons, with WVU scoring a 195.425-190.975 win over Ball State in a tri-meet with Penn State (196.65) in 2005. WVU leads the all-time series, 7-1.
“There are some very great teams coming in to the Coliseum tomorrow. We like to bring in great competition for the Mountaineer fans,” says Butts. “We always enter meets against ranked opponents confidently, and I think we are just as good as these teams. I look forward to showing our fans that we’re a national competitor.”
WVU enters Sunday’s meet ranked No. 11 nationally on floor. Junior Alaska Richardson continues to pace the lineup, as the Dayton, Ohio, native ranks No. 40 nationally with a 9.825 season average. Richardson has earned four scores of 9.8 or better this season, including a career-best score of 9.875.
In total, five Mountaineers rank in the Southeast region’s Top 25 on floor. Behind Richardson at No. 4 is junior Kaylyn Millick at No. 9 and sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer at No. 12. Sophomore Makenzie Bristol and junior Chelsea Goldschrafe rank No. 17 and No. 22, respectively.
Sloanhoffer also is ranked nationally. The Cornwall, N.Y., native, a two-time 2012 EAGL Gymnast of the Week, ranks No. 26 in the all-around and No. 46 on vault. Sloanhoffer boasts four 39.0-plus scores this season, including a career-high 39.3, and earned nine scores of 9.8 or better; she has scored 9.8 or better in 39 of 60 career routines.
The Mountaineers are coming off a tight 194.65-194.05 loss at No. 22 Michigan on Feb. 3. WVU, swept on all four events, battled back from a two-rotation deficit and earned a 146.075-145.825 lead in the third rotation before two falls on beam and a solid 48.825 UM floor showing gave the Wolverines the victory.
Despite the loss, WVU put together an overall consistent meet, with Sloanhoffer scoring 39.125 and finishing second in the all-around. She also earned a season-best 9.825 on beam and won the event outright.
Richardson and Bristol paced the team and tied for third on floor with matching 9.8s, while Millick tallied a career-high 9.775 on bars for the third time this season and finished fourth overall.
“We’re a confident squad right now, and we’re going to compete aggressively this weekend,” says Butts. “We know we have the gymnastics and the skills, and we’re going to go out tomorrow and attack every event. It’s nice to be confident, and I’m glad we’re at this place. Now we just have to go out there and do what we do in Cary Gym every day.”
The Buckeyes, nationally ranked No. 10 on beam, knocked off No. 23 Iowa, 196.125-194.425, last night, in Columbus, Ohio; the score is a season high for OSU.
Ranked No. 11 nationally on bars and beam, the Tigers enter the meet following a 196.8-195.8 loss at No. 3 Arkansas on Feb. 3. Tomorrow’s meet is the first for Auburn this season on a day other than Friday.
The Cardinals dropped a 192.925-191.125 decision at Northern Illinois on Feb. 4. Ball State owns a 192.775 season-high score.
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