MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 21-ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team defeated both its opponents by at least one point with a 196.05 score and finished first in its regular-season finale tonight, at the WVU Coliseum.
With tonight’s point total, the Mountaineers (13-7, 1-1 Big 12) became the first WVU gymnastics team to score 196.0 or better in each of its home meets. Moving into the postseason, the Mountaineers need only one more 196.0+ mark to match the program record of six in one season.
“Setting that record exemplifies the mission I gave this team at the beginning of the season – climb higher,” says second-year coach Jason Butts. “I wanted them to be a record-setting team. I tell them to go where the past isn’t and to make a new path. It’s so great to hit that benchmark in senior night. I love that this team performs its best in front of a home crowd – they really put on a show, and I think that is going to set us up well for the post season.”
Maryland (13-5-1, 9-1-1 EAGL) finished second tonight with a 194.8 score, while Rutgers (12-12, 2-4 EAGL) tallied 194.175 and placed third.
Tonight’s victory over the Terrapins avenged the Mountaineers’ 196.175-195.775 loss in College Park, Md., on Feb. 17. Both teams defeated RU (195.05) that day. The three were foes in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) last year.
“We narrowly lost to the Terrapins a few weeks ago, so it was nice to see us win big tonight,” Butts says. “As former EAGL opponents, we’ll always be rivals with those teams, so to defeat both is great. We had an energetic crowd tonight, and they really pushed us in the meet. They were loud, and they made the night fun for the team.”
Tonight’s contest was the final regular-season meet at the WVU Coliseum for seniors Chelsea Goldschrafe
, Kaylyn Millick
and Alaska Richardson
. The trio was honored following the completion.
“The seniors all showed up in a big way tonight,” Butts continues. “They weren’t focused on the fact that it was senior night. They wanted to get out there and get the job done. They just wanted to be there for their teammates tonight. I always want my seniors to do their best gymnastics, and they definitely put on a show for the crowd.”
Junior Hope Sloanhoffer
earned her second all-around win of the season with a 39.25 score. Millick followed in second with a 39.175 mark, and RU’s Luisa Leal tallied 39.125 and finished third.
The Mountaineers scored 49.0 or better on three of the four events and swept the team victories. WVU tallied 49.225 on floor, 49.175 on vault, 49.025 on beam and 48.625 on bars.
WVU came out of the gate with a strong 49.175 vault showing. Richardson and freshman Jaida Lawrence
tied for the win with matching 9.9s; the mark is a career best for Lawrence, a score she has hit four times this year. Sloanhoffer vaulted before the duo and earned 9.825, the meet’s third-best score, and finished fifth. Millick and Goldschrafe tied for sixth with 9.775s; the score is the top mark of the year for Goldschrafe since earning 9.8 in the season opener on Jan. 11.
WVU hit a solid six-for-six on bars and scored 48.625, giving the team 97.8 through two rotations. Junior Erica Smith
paced the Mountaineers and finished third overall with a 9.775. Millick followed her in the lineup and on the podium with a 9.75, while Lawrence opened the rotation with a 9.725, her best score in three weeks. Also of note, junior Amanda Carpenter
competed her first career bars routine and tallied 9.7, good enough for fourth on the team.
The first five Mountaineers hit on beam for a meet-best 49.025 score. Sloanhoffer tied with UMD’s Stephanie Giameo for first with a 9.875. The Cornwall, N.Y., native has tallied five straight scores of 9.8 or better. Smith, Millick and sophomore Lia Salzano
tied for fifth with 9.8s, while Carpenter hit for a 9.75.
Four scores of 9.8 or better on floor helped WVU solidify its fifth 196.0+ mark of the season. Richardson closed the meet and tied UMD’s Katy Dodds for the win with a 9.9. The Dayton, Ohio, native has scored 9.9 or better five times this year. Sloanhoffer tied for third with a 9.875, while Millick finished fifth with a 9.85. Junior Makenzie Bristol
matched her season high and finished sixth with a 9.825 mark, and freshman Melissa Idell
opened the rotation with a 9.775.
With tonight’s wins, WVU improves to 36-15-1 over UMD and 55-0 over RU.
The Mountaineers now move on to their first Big 12 Championships, set for March 23, at 3 p.m. EST, at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum, in Ames, Iowa.