Gymnastics Sweeps At Palestra

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    The West Virginia University gymnastics team picked up three wins on the road Sunday, scoring 195.25 and finishing first at Penn’s quad meet inside The Palestra.

    Bridgeport scored 194.775 and finished second, while the host Quakers finished third with a 193.825 mark. Temple finished in fourth place with a 193.575 total.

    “It’s always great to get a few road wins,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “Today’s score is something I would have been happy about in the past, but we are too good of a team to score this on the road this season. It was an uninspired performance by the team, and we told them as much. There were a lot of highlights, though, and I don’t want to take away from those routines. This is a very hard-working team, and we as a staff need to make them believe that they can score higher than this.”

    With three wins today, Butts pushes his career win total to 102. In eight seasons with the Mountaineers, Butts is 102-69-1.

    “It’s not about me – there are a lot of people who have helped get this program to these 102 wins,” Butts noted. “It’s all about the team right now. I’m excited to see this team earn 100 more wins. We can keep these wins coming in, and we can keep climbing higher.”

    WVU’s total is its third-best score of the season and second-highest mark away from Morgantown. The Mountaineers hit 24-for-24 routines for the second time in as many weeks and the third time this season and finished first on each event but uneven bars. WVU scored 49.2 on floor, 48.8 on balance beam and 48.475 on vault; the Mountaineers finished second on bars with a 48.775 total.

    “We are hitting routines and not falling at all, which is indicative of a top-15 program,” Butts added. “We just need to execute the little details. That is what will keep this team moving up.”

    The Mountaineers opened the meet hitting six-of-six on uneven bars and scoring 48.775, matching its second-highest score of the season. In just her third lineup appearance, junior Julia Merwin paced WVU with a career-high 9.825, giving the Frederick, Maryland, native a share of fourth place. Freshman Esperanza Abarca continues to compete solid in the lineup’s leadoff position, and today she finished seventh with a 9.775 mark. A trio of Mountaineers finished 13th overall with matching 9.725 scores: senior Jaquie Tun, sophomore Sydney Marler and freshman Kendra Combs.

    Bridgeport’s Kathryn Doran won bars with a 9.9 mark.

    In the second rotation, WVU again earned its second-best score of the season, this time posting a 48.8 on balance beam. Sophomore McKenna Linnen opened the rotation with a career-best performance, earning 9.85 and finishing first overall for her first career victory. Freshman Rachel Hornung finished third overall with a 9.8 score, her best mark in three meets. Kaufman and senior Kirah Koshinski tied for 10th place with 9.725 scores, and Abarca and senior Carly Galpin earned matching 9.7s.

    Four scores of 9.8 or better on floor in the third rotation pushed WVU to a 49.2 showing. Tun was the standout today, tallying a career-best 9.925 and finishing first overall for her third win of the year. Koshinski followed Tun in the lineup and finished in second place with a 9.875 mark. Linnen again opened the lineup strong, scoring 9.825, her best mark since Jan. 12, and finishing sixth overall. Fontaine placed seventh with a 9.8 mark, and Hornung added a 9.775 score, good for 10th place.

    WVU finished the meet with a 48.475 total on vault. Kaufman earned her first career vault podium finish and tied for the event win with a 9.75 score, her second-best total of the season. Koshinski and Hornung tied for fourth place with matching 9.725s, the second-best score awarded today. Tun finished in seventh place with a 9.675 mark, and sophomore Michelle Waldron added a 9.6.

    In the all-around, Kaufman finished second with a 38.825 total. Bridgeport’s Julianna Roland scored 38.95 and finished first.

    With the wins, WVU improves to 47-1 over Temple, 11-0 over Penn and 4-0 over Bridgeport.

    The Mountaineers return home to the WVU Coliseum for a tri meet against Pitt, Utah State and Cornell on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m.


    Jason is right on the scores.  We hit above 196 last week and ended up last in a Big XII tri-meet.  It seems we have the statue made, just need to break out the polish and clean it up.


    I’ve followed this program with interest for many years.  We are DEFINITELY an upper level 2nd tier program (15 to 30 ranking) that shows signs every year of just being maybe one more athlete away from breaking into the 1st tier (top 15 ranking) of programs.  Jason has done a good job of maintaining the program and actually, I think, improving it somewhat.  It’s tough in this sport to break into that top tier, but I think it is going to happen.  Like I said, it is probably just one more Level 10 athlete in any one recruiting class that could tip the scales.

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