Mountaineer gymnastics soars to season-high score

Gold and Blue Nation

The West Virginia University gymnastics team used season-high scores on two events to power to a season-best total in a 196.375-195.400 loss to No. 7 Denver on Thursday afternoon, at the WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown.

WVU’s score tops its previous season high of 195.175 set last Sunday.

“I was very happy with our performance today against Denver,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “We did a better job on landings, but we still can land some of our vaults better. We’re still missing handstands on bars. Even though the score doesn’t really reflect it, we still have some improvements that we can make on beam. They are just getting smaller and smaller, which is a good thing for us. As far as the scoring on that event goes, we’re just going to have to keep figuring out what the judges are seeing, so we can address it.

“Obviously, I was thrilled with the performance on floor. Although, I feel like it was still a little bit tight. It’s a subjective sport, so we just have to figure out where we are being hit. At least on bars and vault, it’s pretty obvious where the deductions are coming from, so we have to get that fixed, but overall, I was very happy.”

The Mountaineers (0-4, 0-4) finished second to the Pioneers (4-2, 2-2) on every event. Denver narrowly outscored West Virginia on floor exercise, 49.300-49.200, as five scores of 9.8 or better pushed WVU to a season-best total. WVU also earned a season high on the uneven bars with a 48.75 score. The Mountaineers opened the meet on vault with a 48.725 mark and also scored 48.725 on balance beam in the third rotation. 

Sophomore Abbie Pierson ascended the podium in two-of-three events she competed today, including her second-place, 9.9 showing on floor, good for a season high. The New Kensington, Pennsylvania, native also tied for second on vault with a matching season-high score of 9.8.

Additionally, freshman Chloe Asper competed on beam for the first time in her career, scoring a team-high 9.8 mark in the anchor position to tie for third overall.

The Mountaineers opened the meet on vault, where senior Michelle Waldron followed Pierson in fourth place with a 9.775. Freshman Kiana Lewis scored 9.75 and tied for fifth, while senior McKenna Linnen posted a season-best 9.725 total and tied for seventh. Sophomores Emily Holmes-Hackerd and Kianna Yancey added marks of 9.675 and 9.55, respectively. Holmes-Hackerd’s mark was good for a personal best in the event.

Denver’s Lynnzee Brown won vault outright with a 9.85.

West Virginia scored a season-high 48.75 in the second rotation on bars, as juniors Esperanza Abarca and Kendra Combs paced the lineup with matching 9.8 marks to tie for fourth overall. Junior Rachel Hornung and Yancey also finished with matching 9.725s and tied for eighth. Of note, Combs and Hornung matched their season highs in the event. Freshman Nicole Norris and Holmes-Hackerd completed the bars standings with marks of 9.7 and 8.775, respectively.

Brown also finished first on bars with a 9.875 score.

Six hit routines in the third rotation pushed WVU to a 48.725 score on beam. Yancey followed Asper with a 9.775 score and tied for sixth, while Pierson posted a 9.75 and placed ninth. Holmes-Hackerd and Hornung finished in a tie for 10th with matching 9.7s. Linnen chipped in a 9.45 mark.

Denver’s Alexis Vasquez posted a 9.9 on beam and placed first.

The Mountaineers continued to shine on floor, as Hornung finished behind Pierson, tallying a season-best 9.85 total to tie for fifth with Linnen. Linnen’s score also matched her season high in the event. Yancey and Holmes-Hackerd tied for eighth with matching 9.8s, while Combs added a 9.775 and tied for 10th.

Brown won floor outright with a 9.95 total.

Additionally, Yancey and Holmes-Hackerd competed in the all-around, placing third (38.85) and fourth (37.95), respectively. Brown placed first in the all-around with a 39.475 score.

Looking ahead, the Mountaineers will travel to Denver, Colorado, for another dual meet with the Pioneers on Sunday, Feb. 21, inside Magness Arena. Competition is set to begin at 4 p.m. ET.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit and follow WVUGymnastics on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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