MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team is ranked No. 24 in the 2013 GymInfo Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Today’s ranking is the Mountaineers’ first in a preseason poll since earning the No. 21 spot in 2010, also the team’s highest preseason ranking in seven seasons.
WVU finished the 2012 season ranked No. 21, its first season-ending ranking since 2009. The squad’s ranking was based on its national qualifying score.
“I’m excited for our preseason ranking, and I think it’s an honor and a testament to where our peers think we can go this season,” says second-year coach Jason Butts. “Having said that, I’m ready to improve this ranking right out of the gate. I know this team can compete at the national championships. Last year’s squad showed we can compete with the top teams, and now this year’s team must prove we belong.”
Six of the Mountaineers’ 2013 opponents are ranked in today’s poll – No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Utah, No. 9 Oregon State, No. 10 Michigan, No. 20 Denver and No. 22 NC State.
Alabama, the two-time defending national champions, earned the top spot. UCLA is ranked No. 2, while Florida is ranked No. 3.
Stanford follows Utah at No. 6, while Nebraska is ranked No. 7 and LSU is No. 8.
Today’s poll is the only one of the season determined by coaches’ votes. Average scores will determine rankings through the season’s first four weeks.
Thirteen returning gymnasts will lead the Mountaineers into the Big 12 Conference this season, including junior Hope Sloanhoffer
, the 2012 East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Gymnast of the Year. In addition to her league honor, Sloanhoffer won the league’s all-around, vault and bars titles. Also returning is sophomore Beth Deal
, the 2012 EAGL beam champion, and seniors Chelsea Goldschrafe
, Kaylyn Millick
and Alaska Richardson
Butts returns after leading the Mountaineers to a league-best seventh EAGL Championship in his first season. WVU finished the year at 21-5, its first 20-win season since 2008. Additionally, the Mountaineers finished 5-4 against ranked opponents.
The Mountaineers will make their 2013 debut this Thursday, Dec. 6, in their annual Gold-Blue intrasquad meet, at the WVU Coliseum, at 7 p.m. The squad will be divided into two teams, and celebrity judges Amy Bieski, Amanda Mazey and Billy Hahn, along with the crowd’s help, will determine a winner.
WVU officially opens its season at Pitt on Friday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m., inside Fitzgerald Field House.