MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 24-ranked West Virginia University gymnastics team closes a three-week swing away from the WVU Coliseum with a dual meet at No. 19 Ohio State on Saturday, Feb. 18, with action inside St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio, set to begin at 4 p.m.
Saturday is the team’s second dual meet of the season against a ranked opponent and first on the road. The Mountaineers (6-4, 1-1) are 3-3 away from Morgantown this year and 1-1 against ranked teams.
“We cannot compete scared. We did a lot of intra squads this week and a lot of group work in order to put the gymnasts under pressure,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “We need to make sure we come out aggressive.
“We start the meet on bars on Saturday, and we have a really confident lineup this season. There is a lot of depth for that event, too. Whenever you have depth, it breeds confidence. Hopefully, we can build momentum in that first rotation and keep it going throughout the day.”
The Mountaineers are 13-17 all-time against the Buckeyes (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten). WVU earned the victory in the teams’ last meeting, tallying a season-best 196.8 in a first-place finish against OSU (195.975) and Bowling Green (195.725) on March 6, 2016, at the WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers’ point total ranks No. 7 in program history.
In their last meeting in Columbus, WVU scored 194.175 and finished third against No. 5 Michigan (196.975) and No. 15 OSU (195.025) on Jan. 17, 2015.
WVU looks to get back on track following a third place, 194.575 showing at Towson on Feb. 12. Prior to the meet, the Mountaineers earned a season-best road score in a 195.95-194.875 win at Kent State on Feb. 4.
“We cannot change anything that happened in the past. The Towson meet is done,” Butts added. “Now, we need to focus on what we can control moving forward.”
Steady at No. 24 for the second straight week, the Mountaineers have been nationally ranked for five of six weeks this season. Three gymnasts own four national rankings, with sophomore Kirah Koshinski
setting the standard, as the Berwick, Pennsylvania, native ranks No. 16 on vault (9.875 avg.) and No. 17 on floor exercise (9.887 avg.). Koshinski paces the team with seven event victories this year, including four wins on floor, where she has not scored below 9.85 in six meets.
Junior Zaakira Muhammad
ranks No. 28 nationally on vault (9.854 avg.), and senior Alexa Goldberg
checks in at No. 30 on uneven bars (9.85 avg.). The duo finished first on vault (9.85) and uneven bars (9.875), respectively, last week at Towson. Sophomore Tiara Wright
tied Goldberg for the bars victory. Goldberg and Wright have combined for five wins on bars this season.
Sophomore Carly Galpin
paces the Mountaineers on balance beam with a 9.765 season average, good enough for the No. 10 ranking in the Big 12 Conference.
The Buckeyes are coming off a 195.95-195.85 win at Penn State on Feb. 17. OSU scored a season-high 49.225 on bars, 49.2 on floor, 48.925 on vault and 48.6 on beam. The team is nationally ranked in the top 25 on all four events and is as high as No. 17 on vault with a 48.971 average.
Junior Alexis Mattern scored a career-best 39.4 for the second straight week at PSU and tied for the all-around win. She also finished first on floor with a career-best matching score of 9.925 and won vault with a 9.85. Mattern paces the team on every event but beam and ranks No. 29 nationally in the all-around (39.263 avg.).