Beauty and the Beast Returns!

  • By Shannon McNamara and Jon Hevron
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  • February 13, 2014 03:43 PM
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A fun event for all, the WVU wrestling and gymnastics teams will look for wins over Clarion and Pitt Friday night.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks Photo
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics and wrestling teams will compete in the annual “Beauty & the Beast” meet on Friday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum. The teams will compete simultaneously, with gymnastics taking on Pitt and wrestling squaring off against Clarion.
Friday’s event provides Mountaineer fans the opportunity to watch two athletic events for the admission price of $1, courtesy of United Bank. WVU students are admitted free with a valid WVU student I.D. In addition to the two contests, representatives from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be painting faces and balloon animals will be distributed at the Blue Gate concourse prior to the start of competition.
“We are excited to have the ‘Beauty & the Beast’ event again,” says wrestling coach Craig Turnbull. “We had such a positive response after the first one that we decided to keep going with it.
“We are pretty far into the season, so a twist in the format will be nice to stay focused. We are certainly getting better as this season goes on, and we have a lot of guys that have built up some positive momentum.”
“I’m expecting a loud, raucous environment tomorrow night. I think our team competes better in a circus environment – it makes everyone focus more on just our squad,” says gymnastics coach Jason Butts. “This meet has always been fun in the past, not only for the crowd but for our team, too. I love when we are able to finish competition early and cheer on the wrestling team.
“We need to take advantage of a huge, loud, supportive home crowd tomorrow night and put together a complete meet. We need to finish our job tomorrow.”
The gymnastics team returns to the WVU Coliseum after opening its Big 12 Conference season on the road last week and looks to build on its season-high score of 195.5, tallied in wins over Towson (192.425) and George Washington (191.825) at the Coliseum on Feb. 2.
The Mountaineers (4-4, 0-1 Big 12) and the Panthers (5-2, 3-2 EAGL), former foes in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL), have met 67 times since 1974, with WVU owning a 53-12-2 series advantage. The Mountaineers have not lost a meet to Pitt since 2000 and have tallied 30 wins and one tie since the defeat.
The squads last met in the 2013 season opener at Pitt’s Fitzgerald Field House on Jan. 11, and the Mountaineers walked away with a 194.675-193.55 victory. Senior Hope Sloanhoffer tied for the vault win (9.825), while sophomore Jaida Lawrence and senior Erica Smith paced the squad on bars and finished second overall (9.775).
The Mountaineers enter the meet nationally ranked No. 23 on the uneven bars with a 48.85 season average. The squad has been ranked on the event each week this season. Freshman Alexa Goldberg and Sloanhoffer rank No. 24 (9.85) and No. 46 (9.825), respectively.
Sloanhoffer also ranks No. 46 in the all-around with a 39.015 average. The Cornwall, N.Y., native has won four straight all-around titles and owns a team-best 17 podium finishes. She scored 9.8 or better on each event in each of the last two meets.
The Panthers most recently scored a season-high 194.9 in a second-place showing at Maryland on Feb. 10. Senior Katie O’Rourke was named the EAGL Specialist of the Week, her second honor of the season, as she won floor with a season-high 9.9 and finished third on beam with a 9.825 score.
Senior Colin Johnston (141) enters Friday’s contest with Clarion at No. 17 in the country by the Amateur Wrestling Newsmagazine. Johnston leads the team with a 14-1 dual match record, with his lone loss coming on Nov. 2 to then-No. 19 Joe Spisak of Virginia. Johnston has a team-high 36 takedowns, and is second on the squad with 25 total victories and eight pins. He is currently on a team-high five match win streak, including four victories over ranked opponents.
Sophomore A.J. Vizcarrondo (HWT) became the third Mountaineer in program history, and third in the past four weeks, to earn Big 12 Wrestler of the Week honors on Feb. 10. Vizcarrondo defeated No. 17 Ross Larson of Oklahoma, 9-7, on Feb. 6, and then came back on Feb. 7 to win by major decision, 15-5, over Ed Isola of Davidson.
Sophomore Bubba Scheffel (174) leads WVU with 26 total victories and broke into the program’s top-10 list for most wins by a sophomore in a single season with two victories last week. Scheffel downed Derek Geiges of Oklahoma, 5-0, and Nathaniel Powers of Davidson, 12-1.
The Mountaineers (10-5, 0-3 Big 12) are coming off a 19-15 loss to No. 10 Oklahoma on Feb. 6 and a 45-0 win over Davidson on Feb. 7. WVU took five bouts from Oklahoma and scored three wins by fall over the Wildcats.
The Mountaineers are 20-14-2 against Clarion, the alma mater of coach Turnbull, now in his 35th season. In last year’s matchup, WVU defeated the Golden Eagles, 18-15. Johnston, Scheffel and sophomore Ross Renzi all tallied victories in last season’s contest.

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