MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A season-high showing on floor exercise in the fourth rotation pushed the West Virginia University gymnastics team to a 195.8 mark and a third-place finish this afternoon inside the WVU Coliseum.
No. 16 George Washington finished first with a 196.375 score, while No. 24 Eastern Michigan placed second with a 196.225 mark. Pitt finished in fourth place with a 194.2 total.
The Mountaineers (12-7, 2-1) bounced back from two falls on balance beam in the third rotation with an impressive 49.375 showing on floor, with all six competing gymnasts earning a career- or season-best score. The mark is the team’s top score on any event this season.
In addition to the team win on floor, the Mountaineers also won vault with a 49.1 mark. WVU finished third on bars (48.75) and balance beam (48.575).
WVU’s final total matches its third-best score earned this season. In addition to its three wins at Pitt on Friday evening, WVU concludes the weekend at 4-2.
“I reiterated to the team following the meet that we earned a 195.8 today counting a fall,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “We have an opportunity to crush our next two meets, and we have to take advantage of that. I’ve been telling this group all year that they are an amazing team – we just have to put it all together on one day.”
Though the Mountaineers honored their three seniors – Brooklyn Doggette, Alexa Goldberg and Mackenzie Myers – following the competition, the team’s freshmen provided a preview of the program’s future, as the four competing rookies combined for six career-best marks. Three of those scores came on floor in the fourth rotation.
The last competing gymnast today, sophomore Kirah Koshinski anchored floor with a winning, career-best matching mark of 9.95. Freshman Chloe Cluchey preceded Koshinski in the lineup and finished second overall with a 9.925, marking the second time in four meets the Woodbridge, Virginia, native has earned the career-high tally. Junior Zaakira Muhammad placed third on floor with a season-best 9.875, and freshman Kassidy Cumber finished in fifth place with a career-high matching 9.825. Additionally, junior Jordan Gillette and freshman Abby Kaufman tied for 11th place with 9.8s, a season- and career-high score, respectively.
“I’m really happy with the energy we brought to the floor,” Butts said. “We came over to that last event and got the excitement going again. It was great to see. Every one of those gymnasts did her job.”
The Mountaineers opened the meet with a 49.1 showing on vault. Muhammad anchored the lineup and paced WVU with a fourth place, 9.85 score. Junior Robyn Bernard, freshman Julia Merwin and Koshinski tied for fifth place with 9.825s; the score is a season-best for Merwin, who prior to this afternoon, had scored 9.775 four times this season. Cluchey chipped in a 9.775 mark.
GW’s Cami Drouin-Allair and Jillian Winstanley, as well as EMU’s Ciara Gresham, tied for the event win with 9.875s.
WVU pushed its two-event total to 97.85 in the second rotation with a 48.75 showing on bars. Muhammad again paced the team, scoring 9.85 and finishing tied for third place. The Pennsauken, New Jersey, native has scored 9.825 or better in the last three straight meets. Cluchey anchored the lineup and finished sixth overall with a career-best 9.8. Gillette finished in 12th place with a 9.75 score, while Goldberg and Cumber added 9.725 and 9.625 scores, respectively.
“Chloe really stepped up on bars today,” Butts said. “She competed with confidence, and that’s big, especially since she suffered a fall on this event Friday night.”
EMU’s Kendall Valentin took the event win with a 9.95 total.
Though the Mountaineers were forced to count a fall on beam today, resulting in a 48.575 total, the team’s lineup was bursting with highlights. Kaufman and Doggette followed falls with career-best showings, finishing second and third, respectively, with career-high scores of 9.9 and 9.875. Gillette tied for 10th place with a 9.825, while Goldberg opened the rotation with a season-high 9.775.
“Our beam rotation started strong and ended strong,” Butts explained. “We had silly mistakes on that event, and we have two days to fix those before our next competition.”
Natalie Gervais of EMU finished in first place with a 9.925.
Winstanley finished first overall with a 39.425 all-around score. Muhammad placed fifth with a 38.775 total.
Despite the defeats, WVU continues to hold a 46-4 series lead on GW and a 4-1 edge on EMU. The Mountaineers own a 59-13-2 all-time advantage on Pitt.
“Our seniors put a ton of pressure on themselves to perform today, and I was happy to see them hit their routines and do a good job,” Butts added. “I’m proud of all of them; it was a good Senior Day.”
WVU returns to the road next week and closes its regular-season slate at No. 3 Florida on Friday, March 10, at 7 p.m.