MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team closes out its season-opening road trip at No. 24 NC State Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m., at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.
The Mountaineers (2-2) look to rebound from their third place, 192.125 showing at then-No. 15 Utah on Jan. 19. After starting the night strong on vault and floor, WVU lost focus on the uneven bars and balance beam and counted four falls.
“Our goal is to leave behind all of the troubles we encountered last weekend in Utah,” says second-year coach Jason Butts. “We don’t want to focus on the failure of the bars and beam lineups. Instead, we want to focus on the positive display we put forth on vault and floor. Vault and floor are our two showcase events, but I’m also looking for beam to become a strength for us, too; we are just as strong on beam. I want the beam lineup to step-up tomorrow and prove that it can compete with any beam lineup in the country.”
Tomorrow’s meet is a battle between two East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) rivals and the first nonconference meeting between the two teams since 1995. WVU owns a 24-13 edge in the 31-year series.
The Mountaineers scored a 196.475-196.0 victory over the Wolfpack (0-2-1, 0-1-1 EAGL) at the 2012 EAGL Championship on March 24, at Pitt’s Fitzgerald Field House, in Pittsburgh, Pa. The two squads last met at Reynolds Coliseum in 2011, with then-No. 10 NCSU breaking a tie between the teams late in the fourth rotation and earning a 194.55-194.475 victory over then-No. 18 WVU.
“I love going to NC State; the two squads always bring their best gymnastics when they meet,” says Butts. “Our team is excited to compete in another loud environment.”
Through two meets, WVU is 1-2 against ranked teams, as the squad trumped then-No. 20 Southern Utah (192.125-191.05) last week, but fell to the Utes (196.95-192.125) and then-No. 23 Oregon State (195.9-192.125). The Mountaineers went 5-4 against ranked opponents in 2012.
Senior Alaska Richardson is off to a fast start this season, as she enters the meet nationally ranked No. 46 (9.838 average) on vault and No. 47 (9.838 average) on floor. The Dayton, Ohio, native has only scored below 9.8 once in 2013.
The Mountaineers scored their first 49.0-plus mark on vault last weekend, as the team used four scores of 9.8 or better to put together a 49.05 showing. Richardson and freshman Jaida Lawrence tallied season-high marks of 9.85, the meet’s second-best score, and placed fourth, WVU’s highest individual finish of the night. Richardson also paced the team on floor, scoring 9.775 and finishing 10th.
Sophomore Lia Salzano anchored the Mountaineers’ beam lineup at Utah with a ninth place, 9.8 showing, while junior Hope Sloanhoffer paced the bars unit with a 9.725 mark. Sloanhoffer also finished fifth in the all-around with a 38.8 score. The Cornwall, N.Y., native has competed in 16 career meets as an all-arounder and now ranks No. 20 on the WVU all-time chart.
Also of note, senior Chelsea Goldschrafe scored 28.575 points at Utah and passed the 1,000-point plateau. The Franklin Lakes, N.J., native owns 1,012.95 points and is 364.4 points short of breaking onto the WVU career points chart.
The Wolfpack seek their first victory of 2013 tomorrow night. The meet is the second home contest of the season for NCSU, and the team is coming off a 193.85-193.525 loss at New Hampshire on Jan. 18.