Gymnastics Falls at Maryland

By Shannon McNamara for
January 17, 2014 09:15 PM
Senior Erica Smith soared to a 9.8 on the uneven bars this evening. (Photo by Cordell Hoffer)
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Despite three individual titles, the West Virginia University gymnastics team came up just short in its second straight road meet of the season, falling 193.675-193.5, at Maryland, tonight, at the Comcast Center.
Owning a 146.075-144.75 lead going into the fourth rotation, the Mountaineers (1-3) suffered three falls on beam while UMD (1-1) put together a 48.925 showing on floor, pushing the home team to its first victory of the season.
“I saw improvements on bars and floor tonight, which was good, and I thought we were able to improve on vault, too, which made me happy,” says coach Jason Butts. “Last week, we were so aggressive on beam, but we didn’t push that intensity this week. That lack of intensity produced falls, and that cost us this meet. We had the lead, but we couldn’t complete our job.”
Senior Hope Sloanhoffer earned her first all-around win of the year, scoring 38.75, while freshman Nicolette Swoboda finished second with a 38.65 showing. UMD’s Stephanie Giameo tallied 38.55 and placed third.
As a team, WVU scored wins on vault (48.9-48.85), bars (48.775-48.5) and beam (47.425-47.4). The Terrapins earned the floor victory (48.925-48.4).
WVU opened the meet in a hole, as the team trailed 48.85-48.775 following its bars rotation.
For the second straight week, freshman Alexa Goldberg anchored the bars lineup with a stuck routine, scoring 9.875 and finishing first overall. Senior Erica Smith matched her season-best score of 9.8 and placed second, while Sloanhoffer scored 9.775, good enough for a third-place tie.
Undeterred, WVU gained its first lead of the 2014 season, scoring 48.9 on vault and pushing its two-event point total to 97.675. UMD went 48.5 on bars, giving the Terrapins a 97.35 score.
Competing in the lineup’s fourth position, Sloanhoffer tallied a season-best 9.875, her highest score on vault since going 9.9 at the 2012 East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championship, and won the event. Swoboda tied for third with a 9.825 mark, while sophomore Jaida Lawrence tallied 9.775, good enough for fifth.
The Mountaineers overcame a few shaky moments on floor in the third rotation and put together a season-best 48.4 team mark, pushing their three-event total to 146.075. UMD earned 47.4 on beam and continued to trail with a 144.75 total.
Once again, Sloanhoffer put together the team’s top routine, scoring a season-high 9.8 in the floor anchor position and finishing third overall. Goldberg preceded Sloanhoffer in the lineup with a 9.775 score, her best of her young career, and finished fourth, while sophomore Melissa Idell opened the rotation with a 9.7 showing.
Junior Lia Salzano was the team’s beam standout again, as the Centreville, Va., native scored 9.675 and finished second overall. Swoboda tied for third with a 9.65 score, while Smith finished fifth with a 9.55.
WVU continues to lead the all-time series with UMD, 36-16-1. The two teams will meet again at the Comcast Center on March 16.
The Mountaineers open their 2014 home season next Sunday, Jan. 26, against NC State, at 3 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum. Sunday is a “Dollar Day,” and all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas will be available for purchase for $1 each. WVU students get in for free with a valid WVU student I.D.
Sunday also is a “Poster Day,” and fans may pick up a 2014 schedule poster featuring the Mountaineers.

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