Riding a six-game winning streak and two of the highest scores of the season, the No. 25 ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team looks to continue its impressive run this weekend two times against the University of Pittsburgh.
The Mountaineers are coming off one of their most prolific performances of the season, recording a team score of 196.8 in a tri-team meet with Ohio State and Bowling Green. The 196.8 score is the eighth highest score in program history.
With the top-36 ranked schools qualifying, WVU’s squad may already have a spot locked up for the 2016 NCAA Regional Championships. The team currently holds a 195.665 Regional Qualifying Score (RQS).
With the Mountaineers finding a rhythm and recording higher scores each week, look for them to make a jump in the rankings following the meets this weekend. West Virginia holds top-25 scores in vault (49.04 RQS) at No.16 and floor at No. 19 (49.135 RQS)
Junior Alexa Goldberg, sophomore Zaakira Muhammad and freshman Kirah Koshinski continue to lead the team in total points scored this season. Goldberg has recorded 302.95 points, Muhammad 284.7 and Koshinski 245.4.
Koshinski and Muhammad both hold top 30 national rankings on vault, sitting at No. 27 and No. 20, respectively. Goldberg holds the No. 36 spot nationally on bars.
With Friday’s meet in Morgantown being the last home competition of the year, seniors Melissa Idell, Audrey Tolbert and Jaida Lawrence will be honored following the competition.
Tolbert and Idell are both ranked regionally on the beam, Tolbert (9.785 RQS) at No. 19 and Idell (9.765 RQS) at No. 21. Lawrence is ranked No. 17 in the region on vault (RQS 9.81).
As for the two meets against rival Pitt, the Mountaineers shouldn’t have a difficult time finishing the season with wins on Friday and Sunday.
"My focus right now is that we can’t lose to Pitt at home," said WVU head coach Jason Butts. "Actually, let me rephrase that, we can’t lose to Pitt at all."
Pittsburgh is ranked No. 50 nationally and is currently out of contention for the 2016 NCAA Regional Championships with a lackluster 193.640 RQS. The team was able to break 195.0 on only one occasion this year, with a 195.25 versus Towson.
The Panthers are coming off a fourth place finish in a multi-team meet on the road against Maryland, Yale, George Washington and Texas Woman’s University. In the meet, they tallied a score of 193.475.
While the team has struggled throughout the year, they have had a bright spot in senior Lindsay Offutt. Offutt leads the team at every event, ranking No. 29 nationally all-around (39.230 RQS). Her two best events are floor and beam where she ranks No. 32 (9.885 RQS) and No. 46 (9.855 RQS), respectively.
With the NCAA Regional and National Championships lurking around the corner, the Mountaineers want to do anything they can in order to move up the rankings to put them in the best position possible for postseason play.