The West Virginia University gymnastics team hit 23-of-24 routines
tonight and scored 195.9 for a fifth-place finish at the competitive
2012 NCAA Auburn Regional Championships, inside Auburn Arena.
The Mountaineers' (21-5, 12-1 EAGL) team total is their second-best score of the season and the 27th-best mark in program history. Additionally, tonight's mark is WVU's top regional championships score in program history, besting the previous high of 195.475, set in 2000; that mark qualified the Mountaineers for their last national championships appearance.
Sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer, the 2012 EAGL Gymnast of the Year, tied for sixth place in the all-around with a 39.325 score. The Cornwall, N.Y., native just missed individually qualifying for the national championships, as the last advancing all-arounder scored 0.05 points better.
Junior Kaylyn Millick finished 10th in the all-around with a career-best 39.225 score.
UGA's Kat Ding won the all-around competition with a 39.5 score.
No. 6-ranked Georgia won the meet with a 197.1 score. No. 7 Oregon State finished second with 196.45 points; the Bulldogs and the Beavers will advance to the 2012 NCAA Championships. No. 21 Michigan finished third with a 196.325 score, while host Auburn, ranked No. 18, finished fourth with a 196.1. Michigan State placed sixth with a 194.05.
"I have asked this team to fight the entire season, and they fought again tonight and gave themselves a chance to advance," says first-year coach Jason Butts. "We have fought through adversity all season, and again tonight we faced a few issues, but I thought we competed extremely respectively. No doubt, these last two meets are a launching point for this team, and I honestly believe big things are about to happen for WVU gymnastics."
WVU finished fourth overall on each event tonight, including a 49.2 vault mark, its only 49.0-plus score of the meet.
Faced with starting the meet on balance beam, the Mountaineers pulled out one of their best rotations of the season, as the first five gymnasts hit for a team total of 48.825, the squad's fourth-best score of the season. The mark was just short of the program's regional-best score of 48.85.
WVU's beam tally put the team in third place after the first rotation. UM and UGA scored 49.3 on vault and bars, respectively, while MSU earned 47.825 on floor.
Sloanhoffer, competing in the lineup's fifth spot, paced the team with a 9.85 routine and finished tied for third place. Sloanhoffer was tied for first place until the last two gymnasts of the night, OSU's Leslie Make and Olivia Vivian, scored 9.925 and 9.875, respectively. Millick preceded Sloanhoffer with a 9.8 routine, while sophomore Erica Smith, the first gymnast on the apparatus, scored a career-best 9.75. Classmate Amanda Carpenter matched Smith's score.
The Mountaineers returned to the arena after a second-rotation bye and tallied 48.95 on floor, pushing their two-event total to 97.775.
After three rotations and two events for each squad, WVU sat in fifth place. UGA (98.4) and UM (98.35) led the pack, while OSU (98.2) was third, AU (97.875) fourth and MSU (96.825) sixth.
Sloanhoffer again paced the squad on the second event, tallying a 9.825 mark and tying for 13th place. Junior Alaska Richardson and senior Tina Maloney sandwiched Sloanhoffer with 9.8s, while Millick and sophomore Makenzie Bristol each scored 9.775.
The Mountaineers rallied on vault with a 49.2 score, their second-best mark of the season. After three events, WVU owned 146.975 points.
WVU was third through four rotations. UGA (147.8) was first, UM (147.1) was second and MSU (145.775) was fourth.
The Mountaineers tallied three career bests and one season high on vault. Richardson anchored the lineup with a season-high 9.875, her fourth 9.875 of the year, and finished in eighth place with the meet's third-best mark. Junior Chelsea Goldschrafe and Sloanhoffer tied for 10th place overall with 9.85s; the mark matched Goldschrafe's career best. Millick vaulted second and scored a career-high 9.825, her first ever vault score better than 9.8, while freshman Dayah Haley opened the rotation and set a career best with a 9.8.
WVU finished the meet with a perfect six-for-six bars rotation for a 48.925 squad score.
Millick paced the team with a 9.85, the second-best score of the meet, and finished tied for fifth overall. Smith tallied 9.825 and tied for 11th place, while Sloanhoffer scored 9.8.
Tonight's meet was the last career competition for Maloney and classmate Nicole Roach.