No. 24 Gymnastics Opens Season with Gold-Blue

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • December 05, 2012 04:26 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 24-ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team opens its 2013 season with the Gold-Blue intrasquad meet on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum.

Tomorrow’s meet is open to the public, and admission is free. Additionally, the schedule poster featuring the Mountaineers will be available to all in attendance, and the team will sign autographs following the competition.

“Tomorrow really marks the start of our season, and this team is very excited to compete in front of a crowd in the Coliseum,” says second-year coach Jason Butts. “This is as close as we can get to simulating an in-season, meet-like atmosphere, and the results from tomorrow will go a long way in getting us prepared for our first official competition in January.”

The Mountaineers will be divided into two squads, and four gymnasts from each team will compete head-to-head on each event. Three celebrity judges – former Mountaineer gymnast Amy Bieski, WVU men’s basketball assistant to the head coach Billy Hahn and WVUsportsBuzz personality Amanda Mazey – will declare a winner from each pairing, and points will be awarded. A final team winner will be declared at the end of the meet, but no individual winners will be recognized.

“While we have made a few adjustments to this meet to make it more fan-friendly, the bottom line is that this is our opportunity to put our top eight in front of a crowd and on competition equipment,” explains Butts. “We will learn a lot about this squad tomorrow, and then we’ll get right back to work in Cary Gym and continue to train for the regular season.”

Sixteen Mountaineers will compete tomorrow, including seniors Chelsea Goldschrafe, Kaylyn Millick and Alaska Richardson. Also returning is junior Hope Sloanhoffer, the 2012 East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Gymnast of the Year and the league all-around, vault and bars champion. Sophomore Beth Deal, the 2012 EAGL beam champion, also returns.

Freshmen Gina Costa, Melissa Idell and Jaida Lawrence will make their Mountaineer debuts.

“Even though we’re divided into two teams tomorrow, we will walk onto the floor as one united Mountaineer squad,” says Butts. “The gymnasts are allowed to sway the judges for points, but they all will be cheering for each other. We will rotate as a team, and I’m excited to see this group support each other from start to finish.”

Butts returns for his second year at the helm after a 21-5 debut season that saw him lead the Mountaineers to their league-best seventh EAGL Championship. The Mountaineers finished fifth at the 2012 Auburn Regional with a program-best regional score of 195.9.

“This is an exciting time for Mountaineer gymnastics,” he says. “We’re coming off a fantastic 2012 showing, and we have prepared furiously over the offseason for our first year in the Big 12 Conference. I encourage all our fans to come out to the Coliseum tomorrow night and to get their first glance at a very promising squad.”

Fans unable to attend the meet can follow the Mountaineers tomorrow night via a free WebStream presented by Kroger HERE. A new addition this season, former Mountaineer gymnast Mehgan Morris, a 2009 NCAA Championships individual qualifier, and WVU student Erik Roberts will provide analysis on all home meet streams.

Gold Team
Chelsea Goldschrafe, Senior
Amanda Carpenter, Junior
Hope Sloanhoffer, Junior
Jamie Judge, Sophomore
Lia Salzano, Sophomore
Maci Sump, Sophomore
Gina Costa, Freshman
Jaida Lawrence, Freshman

Blue Team
Kaylyn Millick, Senior
Alaska Richardson, Senior
Makenzie Bristol, Junior
Erica Smith, Junior
Bethany Yurko, Junior
Beth Deal, Sophomore
Dayah Haley, Sophomore
Melissa Idell, Freshman