Gymnastics Earns Best Road Mark


By Shannon McNamara for WVUsports.com
March 07, 2014 09:27 PM
Mountaineer senior Hope Sloanhoffer paced the team on three events tonight, including a second-place showing on vault.
Cordell Hoffer Photo
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team scored a season-high road mark in a 198.325-194.925 loss at No. 2 Florida tonight at the Stephen O’Connell Center.
 
The Mountaineers’ (6-8, 0-2 Big 12) mark was fueled by 49.0+ scores on vault and floor, including a season-high 49.1 floor score.
 
“I’m glad that we were able to earn our season-high road score tonight – that will help us in the rankings,” says third-year coach Jason Butts. “I thought we had some strong performances on floor and vault, and overall, I thought we put in a good showing in a tough environment.
 
“We opened the meet a bit timid on bars. I give the team credit for not counting a fall, but there were some mental mistakes.”
 
Tonight’s point total is a nation-best score for the Gators (8-1, 5-1 SEC), the reigning NCAA champions.
 
UF’s Alaina Johnson scored a nation-best 39.825 for the all-around victory. Teammates Mackenzie Caquatto and Kytra Hunter finished second and third, respectively, with marks of 39.625 and 39.575.
 
Mountaineer senior Hope Sloanhoffer finished fourth with a 38.55, while freshman Nicolette Swoboda tallied a 38.5 mark. Both gymnasts were hindered by falls on the balance beam.
 
“We made some mental mistakes on beam tonight,” explains Butts. “We will be on the bubble for the NCAA Regional Championships this year, and we need to make sure we eliminate those mental mistakes next week.”
 
Sloanhoffer paced the Mountaineers to a 48.4 showing on bars in the first rotation, as she finished with a team-best 9.825, good enough for seventh place. Senior Erica Smith preceded her classmate in the lineup with a 9.675, a score matched by Swoboda. Junior Dayah Haley earned 9.65 in her second routine of the season.
 
WVU picked up steam in the second rotation, as the squad scored 49.1 on vault, 0.05 short of its season-high mark, and pushed its running score to 97.5. Sloanhoffer again paced the team and tied for second overall with a season-high 9.875 score; she has earned the mark four times this season, including the last three straight meets. Smith tied for fifth place with a 9.85, the second-best score of her career, while sophomore Jaida Lawrence and Swoboda tied for ninth with 9.8s. Of note, Haley and senior Bethany Yurko scored 9.775 and 9.75, respectively, season-high road scores for the duo.
 
The Mountaineers put on a show in the third rotation, as five scores of 9.8 or better powered the squad to a season-high 49.1 mark, pushing its three-event total to 146.6. Sloanhoffer again paced the team, scoring 9.85, a season-high road score, and tying for sixth place. Haley and sophomore Melissa Idell scored career-high 9.825s, a first for Idell, and finished in eighth place. Swoboda opened the lineup with a career-high 9.8, while classmate Mackenzie Myers matched the mark in the lineup’s fifth spot; the score is a road career high for Myers. Of note, freshman Alexa Goldberg scored 9.775, a career-best road score.
 
WVU closed out the meet with a 48.325 showing on beam. Solid routines from four Mountaineers helped steady the lineup, with junior Beth Deal coming through with a 9.875 mark, good enough for fifth place. Senior Amanda Carpenter opened the rotation with a 9.775 score, a mark junior Lia Salzano matched in the anchor position, and the duo tied for eighth. Of note, the routine was the first for Salzano since Feb. 7, and she competed during the announcement of a 10.0 floor score for Hunter. Smith earned a 9.675 mark.
 
Tonight’s meet will air tape-delayed on SUN Sports on Sunday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m.
 
The Mountaineers close out their regular season at Maryland next Sunday with a 2 p.m. meet at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md.



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