MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team used a solid showing on floor to secure a 194.45-194.125 win over Pitt tonight in front of 2,468 fans at the WVU Coliseum.
The win capped off a thrilling “Beauty & the Beast” meet that saw the WVU wrestling team also earn a victory, as the Mountaineers defeated Clarion, 28-7. Tonight’s attendance was the seventh-largest gymnastics crowd in Coliseum history.
“Our fans had a lot of energy tonight, and we fed off that,” says third-year Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “We know there were some weather concerns, so we’re very happy everyone made the extra effort to spend Valentine’s Day with us.”
The Mountaineers (5-4, 0-1 Big 12) earned the vault (48.95-48.7), bars (48.625-48.025) and floor (48.85-48.7) wins over the Panthers (5-3, 3-2 EAGL), a former foe in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL). Pitt scored a 48.7-48.025 beam victory.
Senior Hope Sloanhoffer
won her fifth straight all-around crown with a 38.7 score. Pitt’s Brittney Harris scored 38.675 and finished second, while WVU freshman Nicolette Swoboda
tallied 38.325 and finished third.
Despite owning a 145.6-145.425 advantage through three events, the Mountaineers were in for a battle in the fourth rotation, as two falls on beam opened the door for the Panthers. WVU answered with a 48.85 mark on floor and solidified its victory.
“There was great fight on floor tonight,” explains Butts. “Pitt was here and in the hunt for a win, and I knew they wouldn’t go down without a fight. I told the team to be aggressive on floor, and they were. This was our most solid floor of the year.”
There was a four-way tie for first on floor, with Sloanhoffer, junior Dayah Haley
and freshman Mackenzie Myers
, along with Pitt’s Lindsay Offutt, scoring 9.8 for the win; the mark was a career high for Myers. Swoboda opened the lineup with a 9.75, while sophomore Melissa Idell
and freshman Alexa Goldberg
The Mountaineers opened the meet with six hits on vault for a season-best 48.95. Sophomore Jaida Lawrence
earned her second straight vault win with a 9.85, and Sloanhoffer tallied 9.825 for second place. Swoboda scored 9.8 and tied for third. Of note, Haley opened the lineup with a 9.75, good enough for fifth, while senior Erica Smith
made her vault career debut and finished sixth with a 9.725.
“I was absolutely thrilled with vault tonight,” says Butts. “That was a lineup we struggled with last week. I challenged the team to step up and fill the holes, and I think we solidified that lineup tonight. Really, I can’t say enough about that performance.”
WVU pushed its two-event total to 97.575 following a 48.625 showing on bars. Goldberg anchored the lineup with a winning 9.825 routine, her fourth bars win of the season and fifth score of 9.825 or better. Sloanhoffer scored 9.8 and finished second, while Swoboda and Smith tied for fourth place with 9.675s.
“While we were solid on bars, we need to improve our handstands and landings,” says Butts. “The technique is there – we just need to polish the routines.”
Senior Amanda Carpenter
was the Mountaineers’ rock on beam tonight, as the Lancaster, Pa., native tied for the event win with a 9.8. Idell scored 9.7 in her beam career debut and placed fifth, while junior Beth Deal
tallied 9.675 and finished seventh.
With the win, WVU pushed its series advantage over Pitt to 54-12-2.
The Mountaineers return to the road next week and face No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 5 Alabama and No. 8 Michigan at The Perfect 10 Challenge on Friday, Feb. 21, at Cox Arena and Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The competition is set to begin at 8 p.m. ET.