Gymnastics Welcomes No. 22 Ohio State

By Shannon McNamara for
March 01, 2014 03:13 PM
Junior Beth Deal is coming off a career best, 9.95 beam showing.
Cordell Hoffer Photo
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team closes its home regular-season schedule against No. 22 Ohio State on Sunday, March 2, at 3 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum.
Sunday is a “Dollar Day,” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas available for $1 each. WVU students get in for free with a valid WVU student I.D. Additionally, it is a “Gold Rush,” and the first 200 fans will receive a gold shaker, courtesy of Coke Zero. Finally, it is Senior Day, and the Mountaineers’ four seniors – Amanda Carpenter, Hope Sloanhoffer, Erica Smith and Bethany Yurko – will be honored following the day’s competition.
“There are a lot of reasons for fans to come out to the Coliseum Sunday,” says Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “I think a lot of people know our seniors and like cheering them on. I hope a lot of fans can make it out and help us honor their contributions to the program. Wear lots of gold and enjoy a fun day of gymnastics.”
The Mountaineers (5-7, 0-2 Big 12) are 4-0 at the Coliseum this season and have tallied their top three scores in Morgantown, including a season-high 195.5 in wins over George Washington (191.825) and Towson (192.425) on Feb. 2.
“We’re really happy to be back in the Coliseum this weekend,” says Butts. “I think we’ll be in an environment where a similar performance to last week’s will be rewarded for us and do a lot for our RQS (regional qualifying score). We’re glad to be home. It was a long February, so I’m glad we were able to get some rest this past week. Now, we get the chance to compete in front of our great fans.
“We’re not where we need to be, and I don’t like being on the bubble. We focused a lot this week on not giving into the stress. We can’t hit the panic button now. We need to focus on climbing higher and fighting. This team is good at being the scrappy group, and that’s fine.”
WVU and OSU (2-7, 1-4 Big Ten) have met 27 times since 1976, with the Buckeyes owning a 16-11 series advantage. The squads have met seven times in the last 10 seasons, with OSU taking four of the meets. The Mountaineers last defeated the Buckeyes in 2010, scoring a 195.65-192.8 win at the Coliseum. Most recently, WVU dropped a 195.45-195.175 decision to then-No. 11 OSU in 2012, also in the Coliseum.
The Mountaineers are led by three nationally ranked gymnasts. Sloanhoffer has emerged as one of the NCAA’s top competitors this season, as the Cornwall, N.Y., native ranks No. 29 in the all-around with a 39.04 RQS. Sloanhoffer has won five all-around crowns this season and scored 39.0 or better four times, putting her career mark at 22, the fourth-best total in Mountaineer history. She currently ranks No. 12 in the WVU record book with 1,641.85 career points, and needs 39.076 points to pass No. 11 Shannon Migli (1,680.925, 1992-95).
Two freshmen also are nationally ranked, as Alexa Goldberg checks in at No. 48 (9.83 RQS) on the uneven bars, and Nicolette Swoboda is No. 50 (38.725 RQS) in the all-around.
WVU returns to the Coliseum following a fourth place, 193.525 showing at the Perfect 10 Challenge on Feb. 21, in Oklahoma City. Despite the tight scoring, the Mountaineers put forth several stellar routines, including a winning, career-best 9.95 beam showing from junior Beth Deal, the reigning Big 12 Conference Specialist of the Week. Additionally, the squad scored a season-high 49.15 on vault, its best mark on any event this year. Sophomore Jaida Lawrence and Smith paced the team on the event with respective career-best 9.925 and 9.9 scores.
The Buckeyes are coming off a season-best 195.925 performance in a third-place finish at No. 14 Illinois (196.775) with No. 19 Central Michigan (196.425) on Feb. 23. OSU posted a season-high on floor (49.2) and beam (49.1). Senior Sarah Miller matched a career-best 9.95 on beam for the win; she ranks No. 18 nationally on the event. The Buckeyes are 1-3 on the road this season.

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