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Mountaineers Suffer Setback at Iowa State

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (March 1, 2021) – The West Virginia University gymnastics team suffered a 196.375-193.900 loss at Iowa State on Monday evening, inside the Hilton Coliseum, in Ames, Iowa.

The Cyclones (3-2, 3-1) defeated the Mountaineers (0-6, 0-6) on every event. Despite the loss, WVU notched a matching season-high score of 48.775 on vault.

“Tonight’s performance was unacceptable,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “We have the same number of 10.0 start values as some of the best teams in the country, and we gave away probably two points, so we have to stop being shocked when that happens because it is happening consistently. I don’t want to sugarcoat it, but they didn’t get the job done, and I continue to be disappointed at the consistent challenges we face every week that is out of our control.

“We have to fix our attitude going into Friday’s meet at Pitt. It has nothing to do with talent and hard work. We have to fix how we are mentally approaching each competition and that falls on us as coaches to get it figured out. I firmly believe that the opportunity is right in front of us, and it is sitting there waiting for us to take advantage of it. We have to figure out a way to get them motivated and be aggressive and do what we are able capable of doing between now and Pitt.”

Freshman Chloe Asper, the reigning Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, continued her strong performances on balance beam, scoring 9.8 or higher for the third straight meet. The Hanover, Pennsylvania, native registered a team-high 9.8 showing in the No. 5 slot to finish third. Asper made her beam debut on Feb. 11 and has earned a podium finish in every meet thus far, including one event win at Denver on Feb. 21.

“I’m seeing an athlete that doesn’t seem like she is a freshman,” Butts said. “She is so focused. It doesn’t matter if two people have fallen in front of her, she just goes up there and performs. Everything she does is for the team. She doesn’t even realize that she is achieving these amazing individual accomplishments in the process. She is performing beyond her years of experience, and I love that we have that in a freshman, but we should not be relying on our freshmen to be our most aggressive athletes.”

Sophomore Emily Holmes-Hackerd also earned a podium finish for the Mountaineers on floor exercise, scoring a team-best 9.85 and tying for second with ISU’s Maddie Diab. Of note, the Ipswich, Massachusetts, native owns a pair of podium finishes in the event this season.

“She trains like she is going to be in the all-around week-in and week-out,” Butts said. “She is just an amazing kid and hard worker. She personifies what it means to be a team player.”

Additionally, junior Rachel Hornung, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, competed in the all-around for the first time since Jan. 12, 2019, earning a 38.15 mark and placing second.

“She has been working very hard, and it has been a long fight for her,” Butts said. “It has been her dream to get back into the vault lineup and compete in the all-around, and she handled it like a champ. She had tears of absolute joy. On a tough day performance-wise, there were definitely some individual highlights, and Rachel was a huge part of that. It’s one of the reasons you get into coaching.”

The Mountaineers opened competition on the uneven bars, using four 9.7 marks to earn a 48.45 showing for the second straight meet. Juniors Esperanza Abarca, Kendra Combs and Hornung and sophomore Kianna Yancey led the team with matching 9.7s and tied for sixth. Sophomore Kayla Yancey and freshman Nicole Norris added 9.65 and 9.6 scores, respectively, to round out the Mountaineers in the event.

ISU’s Natalie Horowitz and Addy De Jesus earned a share of the bars title with matching 9.9s.

Three scores of 9.8 or better propelled the Mountaineers to a matching season-high score of 48.775 on vault in the second rotation. Senior Michelle Waldron and Kianna Yancey paced WVU’s lineup with matching 9.825s and tied for fourth. Yancey’s total was a career-best mark, while Waldron matched her personal best in the event. Freshman Kiana Lewis also notched a matching career-high score of 9.8 and tied for seventh, while Hornung competed on vault for the first time since the 2019 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship, scoring a 9.675 and placing 10th. Kayla Yancey (9.65) and sophomore Abbie Pierson (9.275) completed the event standings, finishing 11th and 12th, respectively.

ISU’s Kelsey Boychuk and Sophia Steinmeyer scored 9.875s and tied for first overall.

West Virginia tallied 48.8 on floor in the third rotation. Lewis followed Holmes-Hackerd in fourth place with a 9.825 mark. Kianna Yancey totaled a 9.775 and tied for sixth, while Pierson scored 9.7 and placed ninth. Hornung and Combs added scores of 9.65 and 9.575, respectively.

ISU’s De Jesus finished first on floor with a 9.925.

The Mountaineers had a rough ending on beam in the final rotation, as the team was forced to count a fall in its overall event total (47.875). Pierson followed Asper in eighth place with a 9.7 score, while freshman Agatha Handono and Holmes-Hackerd tied for ninth with matching 9.625s. Of note, Handono made her Mountaineer debut at Iowa State on Monday. Additionally, Abarca and Hornung had unfortunate falls in their series, scoring 9.125s in a tie for 11th.

ISU’s Steinmeyer earned the beam title outright with a 9.875.

With tonight’s results, WVU drops to 1-13-1 all-time against ISU.

Looking ahead, the Mountaineers close their regular season with three straight dual meets against Pitt. WVU travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Friday, March 5, and Friday, March 12, with both competitions set to begin at 7 p.m., before the Panthers head to Morgantown for the Mountaineers’ final meet on Sunday, March 14, at 2 p.m.

Press Release Courtesy of West Virginia University Athletics Communications

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