COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The No. 22 West Virginia University gymnastics team used a season-best bars rotation to power it past tight scoring and stiff league competition and toward a winning 194.8 score at Maryland’s quad-meet this evening at the Comcast Center.
The host Terrapins (8-6, 3-3 EAGL), East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) foes, finished second with 194.55 points, while Rutgers (7-7 0-6 EAGL), also an EAGL member, placed third with 191.7 points. William & Mary (1-16, 0-3 ECAC) scored 191.175 and finished fourth.
The Mountaineers (10-3, 5-0 EAGL) won bars with a season-best 49.175 score; the team has now scored 49.0-plus on each event at least once this season. WVU also won beam with a 48.7 mark. The squad finished second on floor (48.8) and vault (48.125).
“It was a good comeback tonight,” says first-year coach Jason Butts. “We face adversity every meet, and we fight back every week. Tonight was this team’s most inspirational performance of the year. They kept their energy and spirit up, and they were aggressive all night.
“This was an excellent way to start a three-week road trip. Hopefully we’ll build from here.”
Sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer, the league’s top all-around gymnast, scored 39.15, her sixth 39.0-plus mark of the season, and finished first overall. Junior Kaylyn Millick finished second with a 38.975 score, while senior Tina Maloney tallied 38.725 and finished fourth.
The Mountaineers opened 0.4 points ahead of the field, scoring 48.8 on floor and grabbing the early lead. The Terps and the Tribe scored 48.4 on vault and bars, respectively, and sat in second place, while the Scarlet Knights opened with a 47.775 showing on beam.
Millick moved to the floor lineup’s No. 4 position and paced the unit with a season-best 9.825 score, good enough for a third-place tie. Junior Alaska Richardson followed Millick in the rotation with a seventh place, 9.775 routine, while Sloanhoffer opened the meet for the Mountaineers with a 9.75 score.
An uncharacteristically low-scoring vault rotation dropped the Mountaineers to second place in the second rotation, as WVU earned 48.125 for a 96.925 team score. UMD earned 48.95 on bars and sat in second place with a 97.35 total. RU’s 48.45 floor showing put it in third place (96.225), while W&M earned 47.175 on beam and dropped to fourth (95.575).
Sloanhoffer, ranked No. 7 in the league, anchored the lineup with a 9.675 score and finished seventh overall; prior to tonight’s meet, the Cornwall, N.Y., native had not scored lower than 9.775 all season. Richardson and junior Chelsea Goldschrafe tied for second on the team with 9.65 showings, good enough for eighth place.
WVU used a season-best bars rotation to overtake UMD in the third rotation, tallying 49.175 and pushing its team total to 146.1. The Terps scored 48.075 on beam and dropped to second (145.425). RU earned 48.025 on vault and remained in third (144.25), and W&M scored 48.525 on floor (144.1).
For the first time this season, all six Mountaineers scored 9.75 or better on bars, with Millick finishing first overall with a career-best 9.9. Sloanhoffer preceded Millick and sophomore Erica Smith anchored the lineup with matching career-best 9.85 marks, good enough for a second-place tie. Senior Nicole Roach placed sixth with a 9.8. Freshman Dayah Haley opened the rotation with a career-best 9.775 score, and Maloney tallied a career-high 9.75.
The Mountaineers held on to their lead with a strong 48.7 beam rotation. UMD pushed for the meet win with a 49.125 floor showing. RU finished the meet with a 47.45 bars mark, while W&M earned 47.075 on vault.
Sloanhoffer won beam with a season-best 9.875 score. Goldschrafe finished fourth with a 9.75 score, and freshman Lia Salzano placed sixth with a 9.725.
Tonight’s wins over the Terps and the Scarlet Knights were WVU’s second of the season. The Mountaineers continue to lead the all-time series with UMD (34-14-1), RU (52-0) and W&M (14-0).
The Mountaineers stay on the road and travel to league foe New Hampshire on Saturday, Feb. 25, for a 7 p.m. dual meet. The contest will be WVU’s last against an EAGL opponent until the league championship on March. 24.