MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University gymnastics team plays host to the 2021 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship on Saturday, March 20, at 2 p.m. ET, inside the WVU Coliseum.
Saturday’s meet will be broadcasted on ESPN2. Direct links to the video stream and live stats can be found on the gymnastics schedule page at WVUsports.com.
Also competing for the conference crown are the No. 1-ranked Sooners (18-0, 5-0), No. 9 Denver (10-3, 3-3) and No. 22 Iowa State (9-3, 3-2).
WVU (2-7, 0-6) was set to host last year’s event, but its season was cut short just before the conference championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. OU has claimed the last eight championships.
Fans can purchase tickets by visiting WVUGAME.com, calling 1-800-WVU-GAME or at the Mountaineer Ticket Office, located at the Gold Gate of the WVU Coliseum. Tickets are $8 each, while WVU students are admitted for free with a valid Student I.D. The ticket office, as well as the Gold Gate, opens an hour before competition.
All tickets are reserved in blocks, ranging from one to six seats, and socially distanced. When purchasing tickets, the system will allocate the best seats available based on the quantity selected.
Due to ongoing COVID-19 protocols, and for the overall safety of spectators at indoor events, attendance will be capped at approximately 2,700 spectators. Priority will be given to families and guests of the gymnasts and gymnastics coaching staffs, along with a limited number of WVU students and fans.
“We are definitely excited to host this year’s championships,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “We have some great teams coming in, and it’s going to be a great opportunity to showcase women’s gymnastics in Morgantown and throughout the state, as well as nationwide.”
The Mountaineers open the meet on floor exercise for the first time this season. WVU then heads to vault for its next rotation, followed by the uneven bars. The squad closes competition on balance beam.
“We’re starting on floor, which is not where we typically start at home, but at the end of the day, competition order doesn’t matter,” Butts said. “Some people love ending on beam, some people hate it. It doesn’t affect me at all, so I try to not let it affect the team.”
West Virginia scored 195.6 and finished fourth at the 2019 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship held at OU’s Lloyd Noble Center.
The Mountaineers’ championship record is 196.375, earned in a third-place finish at the 2014 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship at the WVU Coliseum. Individually, Hope Sloanhoffer became the first Mountaineer gymnast to win a Big 12 title in the all-around event that same season.
West Virginia enters the postseason on the heels of its best performance of the year, as the squad claimed a 196.1-193.4 victory over Pitt on March 14, at the WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers also earned a season-best total in their regular-season finale. Additionally, WVU capped the weekend with 21 podium finishes, including six event titles, as the team also competed at Pitt on March 12.
“Sunday’s score was confirmation for them,” Butts said. “They are fully capable of hitting that 196, and they are well aware that they can score even higher. A lot of factors have to play into that though. With four teams coming in this weekend, it is going to be more of a lively atmosphere. It’s going to be a lot noisier, and I think everyone is going to thrive on that part of it because that’s what we are used to, and COVID has kind of changed that a little.
“There also are more officials, so I think the officiating will be consistent across the board. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing. No one is doing anything that they haven’t done already in a competition. We just need to show up, get the job done and have some fun doing it.”
WVU comes in at No. 38 in this week’s Road to Nationals Rankings with a National Qualifying Score of 195.688. WVU ranks as high as No. 24 on floor thanks to an NQS of 49.225. The Mountaineers also sit at No. 33 on beam (49.088 NQS) and No. 39 on bars (48.856 NQS). WVU also is tied at No. 42 on vault (48.825 NQS).
West Virginia, who has ranked inside the top 25 on floor every week this season, registered a season-high total of 49.3 against Pitt on March 5. Of note, the squad has posted a 49.0 or higher in all but two meets this season.
The Mountaineers rank No. 4 overall in the Big 12 Conference. WVU ranks as high as No. 3 on floor and is No. 4 on vault, bars and beam. Individually, junior Kendra Combs sits at No. 10 on floor with an NQS of 9.888.
Fourteen Mountaineers have competed in at least one meet this season, with 11 gymnasts reaching the podium. WVU boasts a total of 65 podium finishes on the year.