Gymnastics Takes Two Wins


By Shannon McNamara for WVUsports.com
February 02, 2014 06:50 PM
Freshman Nicolette Swoboda scored career highs on vault (9.875), bars (9.75), floor (9.775) and the all-around (39.075) today.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks Photo
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.  – A season-best showing on floor was the exclamation point on a dominate performance from the West Virginia University gymnastics team today, as the squad tallied a season-high 195.5 in wins over George Washington and Towson in the second annual “Wendy M. Roach Invitational” Pink Meet at the WVU Coliseum.
 
The Mountaineers (4-3) looked comfortable in their home arena for the second straight week, as they swept the team and individual victories. The squad was especially strong on floor, where three scores of 9.8 or better pushed the team to a season-best 49.025 showing, its first 49.0+ event score of the season.
 
“I was happy with today’s overall performance,” says third-year Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “We’re still making little mistakes that I don’t see in Cary Gym on a daily basis. I don’t think it is nerves, and we need to figure out what it is. Having said that, I think we’re on an upward path, both score- and performance-wise, and that’s a good path to be on.
 
“Really, today was about honoring Wendy Roach, her family and her fight against breast cancer. This team really takes this meet and its meaning to heart, and I think they did a great job today.”
 
The Tigers (4-5, 1-3 EAGL) finished second with a season-best 192.425 score, while the Colonials (5-3, 0-2 EAGL) earned a mark of 191.825.
 
Senior Hope Sloanhoffer, the reigning Big 12 Gymnast of the Week, scored three event titles for the second consecutive week and won her third straight all-around title with a 39.325 showing. Freshman Nicolette Swoboda scored a career-best 39.075, her first career 39.0+ score, and finished second. Towson’s Samantha Lutz finished third with a 38.55 showing.
 
“I’m really proud of Hope and Nicolette,” says Butts. “Nicolette is really showing what she’s capable of accomplishing throughout her Mountaineer career. I’m very comfortable with her hitting four-for-four on a weekly basis. Hope was solid once again, and she’s very close to hitting 9.9+ on each event. She really just needs to polish up a few things.”
 
Swoboda opened the meet with a stunner, competing her yurchenko layout full to near perfection and tallying a career-best 9.875, good enough for a share of the event win. GW’s Chelsea Raineri matched the score in the fourth rotation. Sloanhoffer followed Swoboda in the lineup with a 9.8 and finished third, while sophomore Jaida Lawrence finished fourth with a 9.775. The squad’s team total of 48.8 pushed WVU out to a commanding lead it never relinquished.
 
Sloanhoffer and senior Erica Smith tied for the uneven bars win with matching 9.825 scores; the mark is a season-best showing for Smith. Freshman Alexa Goldberg, ranked No. 13 nationally, anchored with a solid 9.775 showing, good enough for third, while Swoboda hit for a career-high 9.75 and Lawrence opened the rotation with a 9.725, matching her season-best mark. WVU finished with a 48.9 score.
 
“We were an inch away from a season-best score on bars,” explains Butts. “We showed a lot of resiliency and competitiveness on that event today. I’m pumped. Now, we need to go back in to the gym and see how we can improve the middle of that lineup. We need to figure this out, because we have a lot of depth on this event and it should be a 49.0+ score for us each week.”
 
A trio of Mountaineer seniors stood at the top of the podium following beam. Sloanhoffer tallied a season-best 9.825 and finished first, and Smith and Amanda Carpenter tied for second with 9.775s; the score is a season high for Carpenter. Juniors Lia Salzano and Beth Deal tied for seventh with 9.7s, a season-best score for Salzano, and WVU earned 48.775, .025 short of the squad’s season-best score.
 
The Mountaineers also swept the top spots on floor. Sloanhoffer won the event outright with a 9.875. Junior Dayah Haley followed the Cornwall, N.Y., native in the lineup and on to the podium, as she set a career high for the second straight week and finished second with a 9.825 showing. Goldberg tied Raineri for third with a 9.8.
 
With today’s wins, WVU improves to 46-1 over GW and 19-10 over Towson.
 
The Mountaineers open their Big 12 Conference season at Iowa State on Friday, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The meet is WVU’s first Big 12 regular-season competition away from the WVU Coliseum.



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