MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has announced the 2012-13 gymnastics schedule.
On the cusp of their inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference, the Mountaineers’ slate features six teams that finished the 2012 season ranked within the GymInfo Poll’s top 25: No. 5 Utah, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 13 Michigan, No. 17 NC State and No. 23 Denver.
“Coach Jason Butts has put together a strong schedule for the Mountaineers’ first Big 12 season,” Luck says. “The team will be tested on the road and at the WVU Coliseum, and those challenges will help them prepare to fight for a bid to the 2013 NCAA National Championships.”
The Mountaineers will compete in 10 regular-season meets this year – five at the WVU Coliseum and five on the road. In total, WVU will face 17 opponents, including 2012 NCAA Championships participants Utah, OU and OSU.
“I’m really excited to begin our inaugural Big 12 season,” says second-year coach Butts. “I’m happy to finally say we will be competing for a Big 12 championship. Also, I’m expecting our program to receive an increase in exposure this year because we will be competing in front of a bigger audience and region. This is a very tough schedule, but I’m excited because I think it will prepare this team to fight for a bid to the NCAA Championships.”
WVU will be on the road throughout the month of January, as the squad opens its season on Friday, Jan. 11, at Pitt. The Mountaineers are familiar with the Panthers’ home venue, the Fitzgerald Field House, as they secured their seventh East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) title there on March 24.
The Mountaineers then will travel to Salt Lake City for a quad-meet with the Utes, Southern Utah and Oregon State on Jan. 19, at the Huntsman Center. Utah gymnastics has averaged over 11,000 fans a meet since 1992 and won its 28th gymnastics attendance title in the last 31 years in 2012 with an NCAA-record average of 14,352.
WVU will close out its opening month of travel at NC State on Jan. 25; the Wolfpack and the Mountaineers annually battled for EAGL supremacy as league foes.
“Opening the season on the road means we have to be ready to go right away,” Butts explains. “We need strong scores from each of these meets for our final regional qualifying score. Because of this, we already are increasing the pressure in Cary Gym to ensure that we can handle the atmospheres we will encounter in January.”
The Mountaineers’ road schedule also includes trips to Maryland on Feb. 17 and George Washington on March 10.
Following its month on the road, WVU will open its home schedule with a tri-meet against Oklahoma and Western Michigan on Friday, Feb. 1. The Sooners, the five-time defending Big 12 champions, are coming off their fourth NCAA Regional Championship win and an appearance at the NCAA National Championships.
The Mountaineers will stay at home and play host to Iowa State on Sunday, Feb. 10. The dual-meet with the Cyclones also marks the return of the popular “Beauty and the Beast” promotion, and the WVU wrestling team will simultaneously compete against Ohio University.
“I’m thrilled to host our second ‘Beauty and the Beast’ promotion,” says Butts. “We’re hoping to fill the lower bowl of the Coliseum and put on a great show for our fans.”
WVU will host back-to-back quad-meets on Feb. 24 and March 3. New Hampshire, Michigan and Towson will open the homestand, while Denver, Temple and George Washington will compete in the second meet. The Mountaineers will close out their regular season against Maryland and Rutgers on March 15.
“I’m really happy with the strength of our home schedule,” Butts explains. “We have three teams coming to the Coliseum that finished the year ranked in the nation’s top 25. I’m expecting a great challenge from each of these teams, and I think the fans are really going to enjoy the competition this year.”
WVU will compete in its first Big 12 Championship on Saturday, March 23, in Ames, Iowa. Two bids to the 2013 NCAA National Championships will be on the line when the Mountaineers return to the Coliseum on Saturday, April 6, and play host to the NCAA Morgantown Regional. This year’s regional marks the eighth time WVU has welcomed the championship to Morgantown since 1983, and the first since the Mountaineers finished fourth at the 2010 championship in front of 2,144 fans, the seventh-best attendance mark in program history.
“Hosting the regional championship is a huge motivating factor for this team,” says Butts. “We all realize how close we came to qualifying for the national championships last season. The team is excited to host the meet in the Coliseum and hope that the Mountaineer fans’ support will push them toward the NCAA Championships.”
The Mountaineers opened official practice for the 2013 season on Sept. 17, at Cary Gym. WVU returns 11 letterwinners, including seniors Chelsea Goldschrafe
, Kaylyn Millick
and Alaska Richardson
, from a 2012 team that finished the year ranked No. 21 in the GymInfo Poll, the squad’s first season-ending ranking since 2009.
WVU completed the year at 21-5 overall and 5-3 against ranked opponents. In addition to their EAGL victory, the Mountaineers finished fifth at the NCAA Auburn Regional.
Fans can purchase tickets now for the 2012-13 gymnastics season through the Varsity Sports Flex Plan, which is available for $20. A flex plan package provides 10 general admission tickets, valid for any of these WVU sporting events: baseball, gymnastics, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, volleyball and wrestling. Flex Plans can be purchased online at WVUGAME.com, by calling 1-800-WVU GAME or by stopping by the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum.
The complete 2012-13 gymnastics schedule can be found HERE