Sloanhoffer Named Gymnastics MVP

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • April 27, 2014 11:39 AM
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In addition to her third-place all-around finish at the 2014 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship, junior Dayah Haley also scored a career-best 9.825 on beam.
Photo by Cordell Hoffer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University senior gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer was honored with the Linda Burdette-Good Award as the team’s Most Valuable Gymnast at the program’s season-ending banquet on April 26, at Morgantown’s Hilton Garden Inn.   
A Cornwall, N.Y., native, Sloanhoffer’s honor follows a stellar final season that saw her win the Big 12 Conference’s all-around title, a NCAA Regional Championships beam title and an individual bid to the NCAA National Championships as an all-around competitor.
In addition to her MVP honor, Sloanhoffer also earned the Joseph Medrick Award as the team’s top all-around gymnast. She finished the 2014 season with 507.55 points, the 15th-best point total in program history.
“These are such deserved honors for Hope, and they honestly shouldn’t surprise anyone,” says Mountaineer coach Jason Butts. “She was the shining example of success this season for this team and program. I’m proud that we can give her these awards, and I’m glad she was able to end her career on top.”
The first WVU gymnast to win a Big 12 Conference title, Sloanhoffer earned the program’s first bid to the National Championships in six seasons following a second place all-around finish at the NCAA Athens Regional Championships on April 5 with a 39.175 score. She also scored 9.85 on beam and tied for the event win, becoming the first Mountaineer regional champion since 2001.
An All-Big 12 gymnast, she closed her career with 1,876.525 points, the fifth-best total in program history. She ranks No. 2 in the WVU record book with 26 career scores of 39.0 or better, and No. 14 with 12 career scores of 9.9 or better. Sloanhoffer competed as an all-arounder 39 times, the ninth-best total in Mountaineer history, and saw action in 51 career meets, the 11th-best mark in the record book.
Junior Dayah Haley won the Sally Medrick Award for the most improved gymnast. A native of Pasadena, Md., Haley pushed on all four events this season and earned her first career all-around appearance at the 2014 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship, where she finished third overall with a  39.125 score, earning her a spot on the All-Big 12 Tournament Team. She finished third on the team with 289.875 points and earned three podium finishes, including a share for first on floor against Pitt on Feb. 14, scoring 9.8 and earning her first career victory. She ranked second on the team with a 9.711 floor season average and set or matched career highs on vault (9.825), beam (9.825) and floor (9.85).
“It was a phenomenal achievement for Dayah to end her season as an all-round competitor,” says Butts. “We really saw her progress this year. She built toward this season since she arrived in Morgantown, and she has set herself up for a great senior season.”
Sophomore Melissa Idell won the John Quackenbush Award for Mountaineer Spirit. A Newark, Del., native, Idell competed on floor in all 11 meets this season and scored 124.6 points. She set a career-high mark of 9.825 at No. 2 Florida on March 7, and hit the score again eight days later at Maryland. Idell also made her career debut on beam this season and tallied a high score of 9.7.
“Melissa is very deserving of this award because she epitomizes Mountaineer spirit,” Butts says. “She is always the last gymnast working in the gym, and she leads the team on the competition floor with her energy and enthusiasm. She is a true team player, and she embodies what it means to be a Mountaineer.”
All but the Joseph Medrick Award were voted on by the Mountaineer gymnasts
Gymnasts that passed the 1,500 and 500 career point-total milestones also were recognized yesterday. Sloanhoffer was the lone Mountaineer to pass the 1,500-point threshold, while senior Erica Smith finished her career with 598.425 points, and Haley pushed her three-year total to 780.8.
The Mountaineers finished the year at 6-11, including a third-place finish at the 2014 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship with a season-best score of 196.375. Sloanhoffer, junior Beth Deal (beam) and freshmen Nicolette Swoboda (all-around) and Alexa Goldberg (bars) advanced to the NCAA Athens Regional Championships. Haley, Deal and junior Lia Salzano return to lead the Mountaineers in 2015.