MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team scored a season-high 196.375 in a third-place effort at today’s Big 12 Gymnastics Championship, in front of 2,112 fans at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers’ (6-11, 0-2 Big 12) score, the 13th-best mark in program history, tops their previous season-high mark of 196.175, scored in a win over No. 22 Ohio State on March 2. Today’s finish came before the 11th-best crowd in program history in the first ever Big 12 Conference sponsored event on WVU’s campus.
No. 3-ranked Oklahoma (17-2, 4-0 Big 12) won its third straight title with a 198.0 score, a conference championship record. Iowa State (5-11, 2-2 Big 12) scored a season-high 196.65 and finished in second place. The Sooners’ score is the top mark earned by any team in WVU Coliseum history.
“I thought this was a great performance from the team – it was exactly what I’ve been looking for all year long,” says Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “We had a few minor stumbles here and there, but the gymnastics was there and we were able to overcome those. This team has fought all season, so I’m happy to see them earn their season-best mark at the Big 12 Championship in front of a great, loud home crowd.
“Of course, it would be great to win this championship, but I knew that would be a challenge coming into today. Placing third is OK. Ultimately, we had our sights set on a season-high score, and I’m thrilled we were able to hit that. I’m really proud of this team. We’ve had a few struggles this year, and they could have checked out of the season a long time ago. Instead, they stepped up to today’s challenge, and I can’t ask for more than that.”
Senior Hope Sloanhoffer
, ranked No. 25 nationally, scored 39.425 and won the first Big 12 Conference title for WVU. The score is the second highest of the season for the All-Big 12 gymnast. She also tied for third place on floor with a career-best 9.9 score.
Today’s title is the second career award for Sloanhoffer, as she also won the East Atlantic Gymnastics League all-around crown as a sophomore with a 39.5 score at Pitt on March 24, 2012.
“I think today’s title puts a big exclamation point on Hope’s WVU career and solidifies her spot in the program’s history,” says Butts. “She will go down as WVU’s first Big 12 champion, and that’s great. To have Hope win today’s title outright really makes this a successful championship. I don’t think she was even aware that she could win today’s title, so this is special. She really deserves this individual acknowledgement.”
Junior Dayah Haley
finished third in her first career all-around performance with a 39.125 score. Additionally, classmate Beth Deal
tied for second place on beam with a 9.9, her top career score in the WVU Coliseum.
By virtue of their podium finishes, Sloanhoffer, Haley and Deal all were named to the All-Big 12 Championship Team.
WVU opened the meet with a 49.075 showing on vault, its best mark on the event at the Coliseum this year. Sophomore Jaida Lawrence
anchored the event with a 9.875 score and tied for sixth place. Swoboda and Sloanhoffer tied for 10th place with 9.825s. Additionally, in her final meet at the Coliseum, senior Bethany Yurko
hit 9.8 for the first time in her career.
OU’s Maile’ana Kanewa won the Big 12 vault title with a 9.95 score.
The Mountaineers matched their season-high bars score of 49.05 in the second rotation, as WVU hit for 9.8 or better in the last four lineup spots. Freshman Alexa Goldberg
anchored the rotation with a 9.9, her third score of 9.9 or better this season, and finished tied for fourth place. Sloanhoffer and senior Erica Smith
tied for 10th place with 9.825s, while sophomore Lindsey Litten
hit her Coliseum season-high mark of 9.8.
ISU’s Camille Santerre won the bars title with a 9.95 score.
WVU hit six-for-six on beam for the third time this season and scored 49.2 in the third rotation. Deal, a Parkersburg, W.Va., native, tied for second place with her best mark since scoring a career-high 9.95 on Feb. 21. Sloanhoffer preceded Deal in the lineup and finished tied for fourth place with a season-high 9.875, while Haley anchored the lineup with a career-high 9.825, good enough for 10th place. Smith and Swoboda added 9.8s, while senior Amanda Carpenter
opened the lineup with a 9.75.
OU’s Taylor Spears scored 9.95 and won the beam title.
The Mountaineers concluded the championship with a home season-high score of 49.05 on floor. Sloanhoffer anchored the rotation with her third place, 9.9 score. Haley matched her career-high mark of 9.85 and tied for seventh place, while Swoboda opened the lineup with a career-high 9.8. Sophomore Melissa Idell
added a 9.775, while freshman Mackenzie Myers
OU’s Haley Scaman, ranked No. 1 in the nation, won the floor title with a 9.95 score.
Today’s championship will air on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh on Friday, March 28, at noon.
With today’s finish, the Mountaineers’ final regional qualifying score (RQS) stands at 195.15. With multiple conference championships set to conclude late tonight, WVU sits at No. 36 in the national rankings. The NCAA will announce regional championships bids this Monday, March 24, with a selection show at 3 p.m. at NCAA.com. The Mountaineers have qualified for 35 regional championships.
“I hate that it’s a waiting game, but we’ll have to see how the scores shake out across the country,” says Butts. “If this is the end of the road for the team, we will have individuals qualify for the regional championships, so the season does not end today.”