MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –The West Virginia University gymnastics team opened its 2017 home season tonight at the WVU Coliseum with a season-high showing but ultimately lost to No. 1-ranked Oklahoma, 197.925-195.55.
The Mountaineers’ (1-2, 0-1) top showing to date came before 2,076 fans, the 13th-best attendance mark in program history.
Though the Sooners (3-0, 1-0) swept the team competitions, WVU finished with two season highs and tallied its first 49.0+ team score of the year, earning 49.2 on floor. The Mountaineers also earned a season-best 48.8 on uneven bars, as well as marks of 48.95 on vault and 48.6 on balance beam.
“Tonight was a huge improvement from our first two meets of the season, but especially from our night at Pitt,” WVU coach Jason Butts said. “We had the defending National Champions in the WVU Coliseum, and this team was not intimidated by them. We put on a great show for our fans, and I’m so thankful so many came out to support us in our home opener. Granted, there were a few jitters, but there also was improvement, and we’re on the right track. The potential for this team is incredible, and I can’t wait to get back in Cary Gym and continue our progress.”
The Mountaineers opened the meet with a solid 48.95 showing on vault, paced by 9.85 scores from sophomore Kirah Koshinski and junior Zaakira Muhammad, marking the third straight time Muhammad has tallied her season-best score. The duo finished in a tie for fifth place. A trio of Mountaineers tied for ninth place, as junior Robyn Bernard and freshmen Chloe Cluchey and Julia Merwin all scored 9.75. The mark is a season high for Bernard and Cluchey.
Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols finished first on vault with a perfect 10.0. She is the first visiting gymnast to score a 10.0 on vault inside the WVU Coliseum. Additionally, it was the first 10.0 scored in Morgantown on any event since former Mountaineer Jessica Bartgis tallied a 10.0 on vault on Feb. 8, 2004.
WVU pushed its two-rotation total to 97.75 following a season-best 48.8 mark on bars. Sophomore Tiara Wright paced the Mountaineers for the second straight week, tallying a season-best 9.825 and finishing in fourth place. Senior Alexa Goldberg and junior Jordan Gillette tied for sixth place with matching 9.775 scores, a career high for Gillette. Bernard opened the rotation with a season-best 9.75, good enough for eighth place, while Cluchey chipped in a 9.675 mark.
“Tiara continues to improve on bars, and she competed a beautiful routine tonight,” Butts noted.
Nichols scored 9.925 and finished first overall.
The Mountaineers’ 48.6 mark on beam helped push their running score to 146.35 after the third rotation. Senior Brooklyn Doggette finished a team-best fourth on the event with a season-best 9.825 score, matching her career-best mark which she previously scored twice in 2015. Sophomore Carly Galpin preceded Doggette in the lineup and finished seventh overall with a 9.775 showing, the fifth-highest score earned tonight. Gillette returned to the lineup and anchored with a 9.725 score, good enough for ninth place.
“Brooklyn continues to defy the odds,” Butts said. “She worked so hard this week to correct the mistakes she had last week, and now we can solidify that routine. Brooklyn’s overall in-meet attitude is awesome, too – her cheering and leadership set a good example for the rest of the team.”
Nichols tallied 9.975, a WVU Coliseum record, and won the event. The last gymnast to hit the record mark was Michigan’s Elise Ray on Feb. 22, 2004.
WVU used four scores of 9.8 or better to achieve its season-high 49.2 mark on floor tonight. Koshinski matched her career-best score in the anchor position, finishing second overall with a 9.95 mark. Muhammad tallied a season-high 9.85 and finished in seventh place. Freshman Kassidy Cumber and Bernard finished in ninth and 10th place, respectively, with career-best scores of 9.825 and 9.8. Additionally, Merwin opened the rotation with a career-high 9.775.
“Kirah was incredible tonight on floor,” Butts said. “That could have been a 10.0 routine. She had a great night. Her confidence is growing, and that’s just so nice to see.
“I also have to give a shout out to Robyn. She is competing big gymnastics, and she’s getting rewarded for it. It’s very impressive.”
Nichols won the event with a 9.975 score.
Two OU gymnasts took the top all-around podium finishes, with Nichols scoring a WVU Coliseum record 39.875 and Chayse Capps placing second with a 39.6. Goldberg finished third with a 38.025 mark.
With the loss, WVU falls to 1-13 all-time against the Sooners.
The Mountaineers return to the WVU Coliseum next week on Sunday, Jan. 29, for their first quad-meet of the season, with competition against No. 7 Denver, Temple and Towson set to begin at 2 p.m.