Gymnastics: WVU Bound for Auburn Regional

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • March 26, 2012 05:13 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The 2012 National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships regional selections were announced today, and West Virginia University will compete at the Auburn Regional, inside the university’s Auburn Arena, at 7 p.m. ET, on April 7, in Auburn, Ala.

The East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) champion Mountaineers (21-5, 12-1 EAGL) qualified as the No. 5 seed, the team’s highest seed since qualifying as the No. 4 seed in 2009. Today’s bid is the team’s 34th regional berth, 29th in NCAA competition. Since the NCAA began sponsoring gymnastics in 1983, the Mountaineers have advanced to the national championships three times (1995, 1999, 2000).

No. 6-ranked Georgia earned the regional’s No. 1 seed, while No. 7 Oregon State is seeded second. The No. 18-ranked Tigers are the No. 3 seed, and No. 21 Michigan is the No. 4 seed. Michigan State rounds out the field as the No. 6 seed.

“I jumped out of my seat when the bids were announced,” says first-year coach Jason Butts. “I couldn’t be more excited. This is a great selection for our team. We will be competing in a new arena and are presented with the chance to bring a lot of excitement and energy to this regional.

“I like the way we stack up against this field. We have a lot of confidence coming off our EAGL win, and we’re marching toward this regional with tunnel vision. Our top goal is to qualify for the national championships.”

WVU is 1-1 against the field this year, having upset the then-No. 13 Tigers, 195.175-193.65, on Feb. 12, and losing at then-No. 22 Michigan, 194.65-194.05, on Feb. 3.

All six teams are coming off conference championships this past weekend, with the Mountaineers the lone squad to score a title, winning the EAGL Championship with a season-best 196.475 score. UGA finished third (196.575) at the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championships, while AU finished seventh (194.1). OSU placed third (197.025) at the first-ever Pac-12 Championships, and UM finished fourth (195.875) and MSU placed eighth (194.675) at the Big Ten Championships.

The Mountaineers will open the meet on beam. WVU’s rotation order for the championships is: beam, bye, floor, vault, bye, bars.

In addition to the six teams, five all-arounders and one individual event specialist per event also will compete from non-qualifying schools.

The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Duluth, Ga., April 20-22, hosted by the Gwinnett Center and Georgia Tech. Additionally, the event winners at each regional site will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around qualifier.

Auburn Regional (Auburn, host) – 6 p.m.
1. Georgia
2. Oregon State
3. Auburn
4. Michigan
5. West Virginia
6. Michigan State

All-Around Competitors
1. Nicole Allen, Ball State
2. Taylor Zondervan, Western Michigan
3. Cepeda Carter, Western Michigan
4. Megan Harrington, Bowling Green
5. Gina Locigno, Bowling Green

Individual Event Specialists
Vault – Danielle Wishart, Bowling Green
Uneven Bars – Caroline O’Brian, Western Michigan
Balance Beam – Jamilah Ali, Bowling Green
Floor Exercise – Lauren Bledsoe, Western Michigan

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