MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 24 West Virginia University gymnastics scored 195.175 and upset No. 13 Auburn in its second-place finish in today’s “Pink Meet,” at the WVU Coliseum, in front of 1,571 fans.
No. 11 Ohio State (7-2, 2-2 Big Ten) scored 195.45 and won the quad-meet. The Tigers (3-8, 0-4 SEC) finished third with 193.65 points, and Ball State (1-7, 0-3 MAC) scored 191.775 and finished fourth.
Today’s win over the Tigers is the Mountaineers’ (7-3, 3-0 EAGL) first over a squad from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) since defeating Kentucky, 195.425-194.65, in 2009; WVU is the only team from the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) to score a win over an SEC squad this season. The victory also is the team’s first over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 25 NC State, 193.725-193.45, at the 2011 EAGL Championship on March 19.
“We proved ourselves against two Top 15 teams today,” says first-year coach Jason Butts. “We hung in there with the nation’s No. 11 team through all four rotations, and we defeated the No. 13 team – that says a lot about these Mountaineers. This team has the confidence that it can score 196.0, and I think we proved that we deserve to be ranked in the nation’s Top 18.
“What was especially great about today is this team realized how good it can be in front of a fantastic home crowd. Mountaineer Nation was loud and into the competition, and their energy and spirit carried us today.”
WVU has scored 195.0 or better in three of its four home meets this season.
The Mountaineers won vault with a 49.075 score, their second 49.0-plus mark of the season. The squad finished second to OSU on bars (48.975), beam (49.025) and floor (48.1); WVU’s bars and beam scores are season highs.
Sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer, ranked No. 26 in the nation, tallied 39.175, her fifth 39.0-plus mark of the season, and finished first overall. The all-around victory is the Cornwall, N.Y., native’s third in four weeks.
Auburn’s Bri Guy scored 39.05 and finished second, while WVU junior Kaylyn Millick made her season all-around debut and tallied a career-best 39.0, good enough for third place.
The Mountaineers kept pace with the Buckeyes out of the gate, scoring 49.075 on vault to OSU’s 49.1 beam mark. Auburn opened at 48.55 on bars, while Ball State scored 47.775 on floor; the Tigers and the Cardinals would remain in third and fourth place, respectively, throughout the meet.
Two career-high scores fueled the Mountaineers in the first rotation, as senior Tina Maloney won vault with a career-best 9.9, the first 9.9 score for the Mountaineers on any event this season. Junior Chelsea Goldschrafe also was strong on vault, as she scored 9.85, a new career-best mark, and placed second. Junior Alaska Richardson scored 9.8 and tied for fourth place.
WVU’s 48.975 bars score, its best mark on the event since achieving the same score against North Carolina on Feb. 26, 2011, pushed its team total to 98.05, the meet’s top score through two rotations. OSU earned 48.525 on floor and fell to second place with 97.625 points. Auburn earned 48.275 (96.825) on beam, while Ball State scored 48.025 (95.8) on vault.
The Mountaineers continued their high scoring streak on bars, with all five counting gymnasts setting career bests. Sloanhoffer and Millick hit for 9.85s and tied for fourth place; prior to today, Millick had never earned a bars score higher than 9.775. Sophomore Erica Smith, in only her third collegiate meet, anchored the lineup and tallied a 9.825, good enough for seventh place. Maloney preceded Sloanhoffer and Millick and scored 9.75, smashing her previous career-best score of 9.675. Freshman Dayah Haley opened the lineup with a 9.7.
“Bars was the last piece of the puzzle for this team, and I think we finally put that piece in place today,” says Butts. “The energy coming off vault was amazing, and I thought every girl competed aggressively.”
WVU continued to lead through three rotations, tallying 49.025 on beam for a team total of 147.075. Prior to today, the Mountaineers had not scored 49.0-plus on beam since scoring 49.05 in a win over Missouri at the Cancun Classic on Jan. 7, 2011. The Buckeyes earned 48.75 (146.375) on vault, while the Tigers tallied 48.025 (144.85) on floor and the Cardinals earned 48.95 (144.75) on bars.
A trio of 9.8-plus scores from the final three gymnasts helped WVU achieve its season-best beam mark. Sloanhoffer scored a season-high 9.85 and tied for the win; the mark is her second straight score of 9.8 or better. Millick and freshman Lia Salzano sandwiched Sloanhoffer with fourth place, 9.825 routines; today’s beam performance was the first for the Mountaineer rookie. Sophomore Amanda Carpenter scored 9.775 and finished ninth overall with the meet’s fourth-best mark.
OSU overtook WVU in the fourth rotation, scoring 49.075 on bars to the Mountaineers’ 48.1 on floor. Auburn scored 48.8 on vault, and Ball State went 47.025 on beam.
Richardson paced the Mountaineers on floor with a fourth place, 9.725 score. Sloanhoffer finished sixth with a 9.7 mark, while Goldschrafe went 9.675 and placed ninth. Of note, the Tigers’ Guy won floor with a 9.825 score; she was the only gymnast to earn a 9.8-plus mark on the event today.
With today’s win, WVU improves to 8-1 all-time against the Cardinals. The Mountaineers continue to trail the Tigers, 6-4, and fall to 16-11 against the Buckeyes.
WVU opens its three-meet road trip on Saturday, Feb. 18, at College Park, Md., against EAGL foes Maryland and Rutgers, and William & Mary. The quad-meet is set to begin at 7 p.m.