MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team closes out its regular-season slate with a return visit to Maryland on Sunday, March 16, with a 2 p.m. meet at the Comcast Center, in College Park, Md.
The Mountaineers (6-8, 0-2 Big 12) ride a wave of success into their regular-season finale, as they have tallied their season-best score and top road mark in consecutive weeks.
“I’m really excited as we’ve already competed at Maryland once this year, and we have a good history of competing well there,” says Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “This weekend is all about us hitting our routines and finishing our job. If we hit like we did in Florida, the scores should be there this weekend, too.
“All the ingredients are there. The team has looked great in practice this week. We addressed this week that we are on the bubble with our current ranking. We need to go to Maryland and be aggressive and attack our routines.”
The Mountaineers and the Terrapins (10-7, 6-6 EAGL) last met two months ago, with UMD earning a slight 193.675-193.5 victory in College Park. The squads, former foes in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League, have met 12 times since 2009, with the Mountaineers owning an 8-4 advantage. WVU has the upper hand in the all-time series, too, boasting a 36-16-1 record.
Despite the team loss in January, WVU walked away with three individual titles, with senior Hope Sloanhoffer
scoring her first all-around win of the season with a 38.75 mark. She also won vault with a season-best 9.875 score; the Cornwall, N.Y., native has since hit the mark three more times. Additionally, freshman Alexa Goldberg
won her second straight bars title with a 9.875 score.
The Mountaineers own a season-high score of 196.175, earned in an upset win over then-No. 22 Ohio State (194.95) on March 2. The squad has scored 49.0 or better on every event at least once this season, with the vault unit hitting 49.0+ in the last three straight meets.
Sloanhoffer paces the vault and floor lineups with respective 9.842 and 9.744 season averages; she ranks No. 46 nationally on vault. Goldberg ranks No. 46 on bars and owns a 9.739 season average, while senior Amanda Carpenter
paces the beam lineup with a 9.75 average.
On the cusp of her final regular-season meet, Sloanhoffer shows 1,719.7 career points and ranks No. 10 in the Mountaineer record book. The nation’s 35th-ranked all-around gymnast, she needs 19.876 points to pass No. 9 Yvette Clark (1,739.55, 1988-91). Additionally, she ranks No. 3 all-time with 23 career 39.0+ scores, and she needs two more marks of 39.0 or better to rank No. 2 all-time.
The Mountaineers are coming off a season-best road performance despite their 198.325-194.925 loss at No. 2 Florida on March 7. The team counted five scores of 9.8 or better on floor and finished with a season-high 49.1. Sloanhoffer scored the team’s lone podium finish, as she earned 9.875 on vault and tied for second place. She also paced on floor (9.85) and bars (9.825). Junior Beth Deal
finished fifth on beam with a 9.875 score. For her efforts, she was named the Big 12 Conference’s co-Event Specialist of the Week, her second honor in three weeks.
“The team really gained confidence last week,” explains Butts. “They all saw that they can go on the road and score, especially in a tough environment like Florida. If they do their job, they’re going to get the scores. It was good to see that last week.”
The Terrapins are coming off a 194.7 showing in wins over EAGL foes Pitt and North Carolina in Pittsburgh, Pa., on March 7. Junior Stephanie Giameo, the reigning EAGL Gymnast of the Week, won the all-around with a 39.15 showing, earning top-five finishes on three events, including a first place, 9.85 mark on beam. Giameo’s score helped the team tally a season-high 48.825 mark. She also finished a team-best third (9.825) on vault. Senior Karen Tang won bars with a career-high 9.875, and sophomore Alex Zimmermann paced the team on floor (9.725).