WASHINGTON, D.C. – The No. 21-ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team overcame a slow start and a slight deficit to defeat George Washington, 195.45-194.5, today, at the Charles E. Smith Center.
The Mountaineers’ (11-7, 1-1 Big 12) score is their second best of the season, as WVU previously scored a season-best 195.775 at Maryland on Feb. 17. The team scored victories on vault (49.025-48.75) and beam (48.775-47.5). WVU narrowly lost bars (48.975-48.65) and floor (49.275-49.0).
“I told the team – we were a little shaky today, but we leave this meet knowing that we can fight through anything,” says second-year coach Jason Butts. “We’ll improve our regional qualifying score with this mark, and that’s great. It was good to get back on the road today – we still have the Big 12 Championships at Iowa State in two weeks, and we need a meet like this to help us prepare.”
WVU trailed 97.725-97.675 after the first two rotations, as the Colonials’ (10-14, 2-7 EAGL) strong 48.975 bars score gave the home team the early advantage. The Mountaineers wrestled the lead away on floor, scoring 49.0 and solidified the win with perfect beam rotation.
“This group really pulled together today, and I’m proud of that,” says Butts. “The seniors corralled them together and kept everyone together as a team; they showed amazing leadership.”
WVU competed without one of its seniors this afternoon, as Alaska Richardson
, the reigning Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week and nationally ranked No. 39 on floor, was sidelined with a slight hamstring strain.
“We decided to rest Alaska today because of her strain,” Butts explains. “Even though we missed her routines, she had amazing energy on the floor today and kept everyone’s spirits high as they competed.”
Senior Kaylyn Millick
won her fourth all-around competition in five weeks, as the Washington, Pa., native scored 39.225. GW’s Stephanie Stoicovy finished second with a 39.175 score, while Mountaineer junior Hope Sloanhoffer
tallied 39.075 and finished third.
The Mountaineers recovered from a fall in the leadoff spot on bars to score 48.65 in the first rotation. Millick anchored the lineup with a winning, 9.825 mark, while junior Erica Smith
went 9.775, the meet’s third-best score, and finished sixth. Additionally, in just her second routine of the season, senior Chelsea Goldschrafe
scored 9.725 and finished seventh.
WVU got back on track on vault, scoring 49.025 thanks in large part to four vaults of 9.8 or better. Freshman Jaida Lawrence
won her fifth vault title of the season with a 9.875, while Millick, Sloanhoffer and sophomore Dayah Haley
tied for second with 9.8s. Additionally, sophomore Lia Salzano
vaulted for the first time since Feb. 1 and scored a season-best 9.75.
Millick’s third straight floor score of 9.9 or better propelled WVU to a 49.0 team mark; she tied for second with a 9.9 score. Goldschrafe matched her career-best mark of 9.85 and finished fourth, while Sloanhoffer and Haley each scored 9.775; the mark is a career best for Haley. GW’s Nefertiti Roy tallied 9.95 and won the event.
The Mountaineers went six-for-six on beam to end the meet with a 48.775. For the second straight week, Sloanhoffer paced the Mountaineers, as the Cornwall, N.Y., native won the event with a 9.85. Sophomore Beth Deal
, the meet’s last competitor, finished third with a 9.775, and Smith opened the rotation with a 9.75, good enough for fourth place.
With today’s win, WVU pushes its series advantage to 45-1.
The Mountaineers conclude their regular-season home schedule against No. 24 Maryland and Rutgers on Friday, March 15, at 7 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum. The meet is a “Dollar Day,” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coke products available for purchase for just one dollar. Additionally, seniors Millick, Goldschrafe and Richardson will be honored at the meet’s conclusion.