Seven Gymnasts Earn Big 12 Academic Award

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • March 18, 2014 12:39 PM
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The Mountaineers will compete for their first-ever Big 12 title this Saturday at the 2014 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship in Morgantown.
Steven Prunty Photo
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Seven West Virginia University gymnasts were named to the 2014 Academic All-Big 12 Gymnastics Team, the league office announced today.
The seven honors is a program-best mark, as five gymnasts scored a spot on the team in the Mountaineers’ inaugural season in 2013.
“I’m really happy to see improvement in our numbers from last year,” says third-year coach Jason Butts. “It’s always a good thing to see student-athletes earn an academic honor, as academics is their top priority. This group works just as hard in the classroom as they do in the gym, and I’m very happy with their efforts.”
Six gymnasts were named to the first team, with seniors Hope Sloanhoffer (exercise physiology) and Bethany Yurko (human nutrition and food), and junior Lia Salzano (education) earning their second straight awards. Senior Erica Smith (strategic communications) and sophomores Melissa Idell (sport and exercise psychology) and Jaida Lawrence (speech pathology and audiology) all earned their first career honor. Idell and Lawrence were named to the 2013 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team.
Additionally, junior Beth Deal (exercise physiology) landed on the second team, the first award of her career.  
In total, 25 student-athletes earned the honor, with No. 3 Oklahoma and Iowa State each placing nine members on the team. Twenty of the 25 honorees placed on the first team, which consists of gymnasts who have maintained a 3.20 or better grade point average (GPA), while the second-team selections hold a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.
To qualify, student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 60 percent of their team’s scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation also are eligible.
The Mountaineers return to the WVU Coliseum this Saturday, March 22, and plays host to the first-ever Big 12 Conference sponsored event on the WVU campus, with the 2014 Big 12 Conference Championship set for 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.