The West Virginia University gymnastics team earned its first Big 12 Conference win in resounding fashion, defeating Iowa State, 196.15-194.825, this afternoon, in front of 2,522 fans, at the "Beauty & the Beast" meet at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers' (5-4, 1-1 Big 12) score, the 18th-best in program history, came before the sixth-largest crowd to attend a home WVU gymnastics meet. WVU last scored 196.0 or better in consecutive meets in 2004, also the last time the Mountaineers earned the mark at least twice in one year.
"Today was just a great day for this team," says second-year coach Jason Butts. "We learned a lot about ourselves today. We faced some adversity, but each time we battled back. Our program's theme is ‘fight,' and that's what each of these gymnasts did – they fought all the way to another season-high score.
"The crowd's energy was awesome. For the second straight meet, Mountaineer Nation cheered us on to a great score, and we are thankful for all of the support we've received from our fans this early in the year. We're so happy to get our first Big 12 win in front of our fans. Hopefully, there are many more conference victories in our future."
Senior Kaylyn Millick paced the team for the second straight week, finishing first with a 39.375 score. The Washington, Pa., native scored 9.8 or better on each event, earned three top-three finishes and tied for the uneven bars win. Today's score gives Millick 1,016.125 career points; she is the third Mountaineer gymnast to cross the 1,000-point plateau this season.
"Kaylyn is hitting her groove right now, and that's been evident in Cary Gym over the last few weeks," says Butts. "She's working hard, and she's competing consistent gymnastics. She's definitely setting the example for the rest of this team."
ISU's Elizabeth Stranahan scored 39.05 and finished second, while teammate Henrietta Green tallied 39.0 and placed third. WVU junior Hope Sloanhoffer finished fourth with a 38.775 score.
The Mountaineers opened the meet with a commanding lead, as they tallied a season-best 49.2 on vault; ISU (2-4, 0-2 Big 12) opened with a 48.7 showing on bars. WVU's vault score is its best since earning the same mark at the 2012 NCAA Auburn Regional on April 7.
Five gymnasts scored 9.8 or better for the Mountaineers, and the team recorded three career-best marks. For the third straight week, freshman Jaida Lawrence won the event with a 9.875 score. Millick and classmate Alaska Richardson tied for second place with 9.85s, a career best for Millick. Sophomore Dayah Haley opened the rotation with a career-best 9.825, good enough for fourth place, while Sloanhoffer finished fifth with a 9.8. Additionally, junior Bethany Yurko scored a career-best 9.775 in her first vault appearance of the season and finished in sixth place.
WVU kept its momentum going in the second rotation, as it scored its second straight season-best mark, hitting for 49.2 on bars and pushing its running tally to 98.4. The Cyclones scored 48.625 on vault for a two-event score of 97.325. The Mountaineers' bars tally is their best since at least the 2006 season.
The 9.8s continued to roll in for the Mountaineers, as five gymnasts hit the for season or career bests. Sloanhoffer and Millick scored 9.875, a season best for both gymnasts, and tied for the win. Junior Erica Smith matched her career-best score of 9.85 and finished third, while freshmen duo Gina Costa and Lawrence each scored a career-high 9.8 and tied for fourth place.
The Mountaineers overcame a fall in the leadoff beam position and tallied a 48.85 mark in the third rotation, giving them a 147.25 running total. ISU earned 48.625 on floor and pushed its team score to 145.95.
Sophomore Beth Deal anchored the beam lineup with her best routine of the season, scoring 9.85 and finishing in second place. Millick preceded Deal on to the podium with a third place, 9.825 showing. Junior Amanda Carpenter finished sixth overall with a 9.75, while sophomore Lia Salzano earned a 9.725 mark.
The Mountaineers solidified their season-best score with a 48.9 floor mark. The Cyclones scored 48.875 on beam for their only event win of the day.
Richardson proved to be a solid lineup anchor once again, scoring 9.85 and finishing in a three-way tie for first with ISU's Green and Milan Ivory. Millick finished fourth with a 9.825, the meet's second-best mark, while Sloanhoffer tallied 9.775 and Goldschrafe and Haley earned 9.725s.
Today's win gives WVU a 2-1 series advantage over ISU.
The Mountaineers return to the road next week and travel to No. 17 Maryland for a quad meet with Rutgers and George Washington on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 5 p.m., at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md.