MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Four West Virginia University gymnasts have secured an individual bid to compete at the 2014 NCAA Athens Regional Championships on Saturday, April 5, at 4 p.m., inside Stegeman Coliseum, in Athens, Ga.
“This is a testament to the talent on this year’s team that four Mountaineers qualified,” says third-year coach Jason Butts. “These student-athletes will help further the WVU brand on a national stage. They worked very hard this year and deserve their spot at the regional championships. As a staff, we will make sure they have the resources and practice time they need to advance to the NCAA National Championships.”
The Mountaineers (6-11, 0-4 Big 12) just missed qualifying as a team, as the squad ranks No. 37 in this week’s GymInfo Poll with a 195.15 regional qualifying score (RQS). The top 36 teams earned a bid to compete at the regional championships. Iowa State owns a 195.16 RQS and is the last qualifying school.
“It’s disappointing that we aren’t going as a team. Qualifying for the regional championships, and then the NCAA National Championships, is a goal that we set at the beginning of every year, so this is a speed bump in what we’re trying to accomplish with this program. We will use this setback as a learning experience. The returning gymnasts are already using this as a motivational tool – they want to make sure we aren’t in this position again.
“I am very proud that WVU will be represented at the regional championship. This year may not be the banner season that we were expecting, but the season marches on for WVU gymnastics, and I’m proud of that.”
A region’s top five all-around competitors not on a qualifying team, as well has one individual event specialist per event (who has a minimum RQS of 9.4) were named to each of the six predetermined host sites, as well as six teams.
Sloanhoffer, a Cornwall, N.Y., native, ranks No. 6 in the Southeast region in the all-around with a 39.305 RQS; she is the region’s top all-around gymnast not on a qualifying team. An All-Big 12 gymnast, she won the conference’s all-around title with a 39.425 score at the 2014 Big 12 Gymnastics Championships on March 22, at the WVU Coliseum. Sloanhoffer is the first Big 12 champion in program history.
Swoboda, a native of Westbury, N.Y., ranks No. 12 in the Southeast region with a 38.84 RQS. She is the fifth and final all-around competitor from the region to advance to the championships.
Deal, a native of Parkersburg, W.Va., ranks No. 6 in the Southeast on beam with a 9.865 RQS, while Goldberg, an Ivyland, Pa., native, ranks No. 12 with a 9.87 RQS; only gymnasts from No. 1 Florida and No. 6 Georgia rank higher than the duo.
Host Georiga qualified as the region’s top seed, while No. 7 Michigan, the 2014 Big Ten Conference champion, qualified as the No. 2 seed. No. 18 Central Michigan is the No. 3 seed, while Ohio State is No. 4. Former East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) foes NC State and Rutgers are No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.
Team pairings for the Mountaineer gymnasts will be released later this week.
The NCAA’s top-18 teams are seeded nationally, based on RQS. Teams 19-38 are organized into three pods (19-24, 25-30, and 31-36) and placed geographically at one of the six sites, beginning with teams 19-24 followed by teams 25-30 and then finally teams 31-36. All-around competitors and event specialists are assigned to their respective geographic region.
The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Birmingham, Ala., April 18-20, with the University of Alabama and the Alabama Sports Foundation as hosts. Additionally, the event winners at each regional site will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around qualifier.
Athens Regional (Host: Georgia)
3. Central Michigan
4. Ohio State
5. NC State
2. Haley Watts, North Carolina
3. Brittany Stover, William & Mary
4. Kayla Carto, George Washington
Alt. – Lexi Cappalli, North Carolina
Individual Event Specialists
Vault – Chelsea Raineri, George Washington
Alt. – Kiera Kenney, George Washington
Alt. – Janell Sargent, North Carolina
Floor Exercise – Chelsea Raineri, George Washington
Alt. – Lexi Cappalli, North Carolina