MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Powered by five scores of 9.8 or better on balance beam, the No. 16-ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team tallied 196.375 and finished second in its home quad-meet, today, at the WVU Coliseum.
No. 13 Denver (14-2, 4-0 WAC) took the win with a 196.8, while George Washington (10-13, 2-7 EAGL) finished third with a 195.3 mark. Temple (4-18) scored 191.625 and finished fourth.
The Mountaineers’ (10-7, 1-1 Big 12) score is their second best of the year. The mark ranks No. 13 in program history. The team has now earned 196.0 or better in all four of its home meets. Only in 2004 did WVU score four or more 196.0+ marks in one season.
“This team believes that they’re a 196.0 squad. They believe now that they’re a top 18 team,” says second-year coach Jason Butts. “I think we started building the foundation for this season last year, but this team is different. They know they can hit; they know if they compete their best, the scores will fall where they need to.
“Most importantly, I’m really proud of the way the team fought back from adversity again today. They went over to beam completely focused on the task in front of them and blocked out everything they faced on vault and bars.”
WVU finished first on beam with a season-high 49.225 score. The team’s total is its best since scoring a school-record 49.55 at Pitt with James Madison on March 9, 2004. The mark was just short of the team’s best home beam score of 49.3, last scored against NC State and Ohio State on Jan. 18, 2004.
“I knew going into this season that our beam lineup had the potential to be great for us,” says Butts. “We have so much depth on that event, and the girls go into that rotation with a confidence we’ve never before shown. It’s nice that beam isn’t the elephant in the room anymore – they look forward to competing now. Coach (Bridget) Boyd really does a great job in Cary Gym every day making sure this team is ready for competition.”
In addition to its beam win, the team also finished first on vault with a 49.05 score. The Mountaineers scored 49.275 on floor and 48.825 on uneven bars and placed second. The Pioneers scored 49.3 on bars and floor for the wins.
Junior Hope Sloanhoffer
scored 39.225 and won her first all-around title of the year. The point total was the Cornwall, N.Y., native’s second best of the season. Despite a fall on bars, senior Kaylyn Millick
finished fourth with a 38.875.
Two 9.875 vaults from senior Alaska Richardson
and freshman Jaida Lawrence
, ranked No. 22 nationally, powered WVU to a 49.05 score in the first rotation. The duo tied with GW’s Betsy Zander for the event victory. Lawrence and Richardson have combined for seven vault wins this season. Millick vaulted in the lineup’s No. 3 position and scored 9.8, good enough for seventh place, while Sloanhoffer went fourth and earned a 9.775.
The Mountaineers used their first five routines on bars to tally a 48.825 point total, giving them 97.875 through two events. Smith finished fifth overall with a team-best 9.8. A trio of Mountaineers – Sloanhoffer, sophomore Dayah Haley
and senior Chelsea Goldschrafe
– scored 9.775 and finished seventh; Haley’s score was a season high, while Goldschrafe earned a career best in her first routine of the year. UD’s Brianna Springer and Nina McGee tied for the win with 9.9s.
The Mountaineers were unstoppable on beam, as three career-best marks propelled the team to a season-high 49.225, giving WVU 147.1 through three rotations. Sloanhoffer finished second overall with a season-best 9.875. Smith, Millick and sophomore Lia Salzano
tied for third place with 9.85s; the score is a career best for Smith and Salzano. Additionally, sophomore Beth Deal
tallied 9.8 in the anchor position, while Haley made her season debut and scored a career-best 9.725. DU’s Jorie Hall won the event with a 9.925.
Once again, WVU finished strong on floor, scoring 49.275, its second-best mark of the year. Millick, ranked No. 48 nationally, continues to set the team standard, as the Washington, Pa., native tied with DU’s McGee for the win with a 9.925 score. Richardson, ranked No. 34 nationally, placed third with a 9.9. Goldschrafe matched her career-best mark and finished fifth with a 9.85, while Sloanhoffer and junior Makenzie Bristol
tallied 9.8s and finished 10th.
Despite the loss, WVU continues to lead the all-time series with the Pioneers, 4-3. The Mountaineers improve to 44-1 against GW and 41-1 against Temple. WVU drops to 1-7 on the season against ranked opponents.
The Mountaineers will see the Colonials again next week. WVU closes out its regular-season road schedule at GW on Sunday, March 10, with a 1 p.m. meet at the Charles E. Smith Center, in Washington, D.C.