COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In a back and forth meet that featured career-best numbers for several Mountaineers, the West Virginia University gymnastics team fell just short in its return trip to Maryland, as the Terrapins scored a 195.525-194.975 victory, today, at the Comcast Center.
Despite the loss, the Mountaineers (6-9, 0-2 Big 12), tallied a season-best road score for the second straight week.
“The two most important meets of the season are the two coming up,” says third-year coach Jason Butts. “We need to make sure that the mistakes we made today are ironed out this week. We counted three falls today, and we still had our highest road mark of the season. We need to correct these mistakes and hope that’s enough.
“Having said that, I’m really proud of the gymnasts that stepped up today and made sure our mistakes didn’t add up.”
Senior Hope Sloanhoffer
was stellar in her final career regular-season meet, as she matched her career-best score of 39.5 and finished first overall. The Big 12 Conference’s No. 1-ranked gymnast, she previously hit the score as a sophomore on March 24, 2012, in her EAGL Championship all-around victory. The mark ranks No. 13 in the Mountaineer record book.
“I’m pumped for Hope – she’s peaking at the exact right time,” says Butts. “We changed up the construction of her beam routine, and we think it’s the right fit. She really did exceptional today.”
UMD’s Shannon Skochko and Stephanie Giameo finished second (39.325) and third (39.3), respectively, while WVU freshman Nicolette Swoboda
finished fourth (38.175).
WVU opened the meet on a strong note, scoring a season-high 49.05 on bars and jumping out to a 0.15 advantage over UMD, as the Terrapins went 48.9 on vault.
“What an awesome way to start the meet,” says Butts. “We feel like we fixed some of our mistakes on that event, which will be good for next week’s Big 12 Championship.”
Sloanhoffer finished in a three-way tie for first with a season-high 9.875. The Cornwall, N.Y., native previously hit for 9.85 three times this year. Sophomore Lindsey Litten
preceded Sloanhoffer in the lineup with a career-high 9.825, good enough for fifth place, while senior Erica Smith
and freshman Alexa Goldberg
tallied 9.8s and finished tied for sixth. Additionally, Swoboda matched her career-high of 9.75.
The Mountaineers fell behind in the second rotation, as their 48.9 score on vault couldn’t match the Terrapins’ 49.2 on bars, giving UMD a 98.1-97.95 advantage.
Competing one of the team’s most-consistent routines, Sloanhoffer hit for a season-high 9.875 for the fifth time and won vault outright. Swoboda opened the lineup with a 9.85 score, her highest mark since scoring a career-best 9.875 on Feb. 2, and finished tied for second. Junior Dayah Haley
hit for a career-high 9.825 and finished fourth; the Pasadena, Md., native first earned the score on Feb. 10, 2013. Senior Bethany Yurko
followed Haley in the lineup and finished tied for seventh with a season-high 9.75.
WVU took the lead back in the third rotation, as the Mountaineers overcame two miscues to score 48.6 on floor and a 146.55 running mark. UMD tallied 48.3 on beam for a 146.4 score.
Sloanhoffer anchored the lineup for the first time since Jan. 17 with a career-best 9.9 score and tied for the event win; she previously hit the mark on Jan. 26. Competing in front of a hometown crowd, freshman Mackenzie Myers
preceded Sloanhoffer in the lineup with a 9.875 mark, a career-best road score, and finished tied for third place. Sophomore Melissa Idell
hit for a career-high 9.825 for the second straight week and finished fifth overall, while Goldberg tallied a 9.75 score.
The Mountaineers watched their lead slip away in the final rotation. Despite the first five gymnasts staying on the apparatus, WVU tallied 48.425 on the event, while UMD scored 49.125 on floor.
Sloanhoffer and junior Beth Deal
continue to shine brightest for the team on beam, as they tied for second on the event with 9.85s. Smith added a 9.675 score, while senior Amanda Carpenter
opened the rotation with a 9.6.
Today’s defeat is the Mountaineers’ second of the year in College Park, as the squad lost 193.675-193.5 on Jan. 17. Despite today’s loss, WVU continues to lead the all-time series with UMD (11-7, 6-6 EAGL), 36-17-1.
The Mountaineers return to the WVU Coliseum next weekend and play host to the first-ever Big 12 Conference sponsored event on the WVU campus. The 2014 Big 12 Conference Gymnastics Championship is set for Saturday, March 22, at 4 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum. Tickets are on sale now through the Mountaineer Ticket Office and can be purchased online at WVUGAME.com, by calling 1-800-WVU-GAME, or by visiting the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the Coliseum. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for youth, and groups of 10 or more can receive a special group rate of $2 per person. Additionally, tickets are free for all Big 12 Conference students with a valid student I.D.