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The Backyard Brawl Series Continues at Pitt

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (March 11, 2021) – The West Virginia University gymnastics team heads back to Pittsburgh on Friday, March 12, for its second consecutive dual meet against the Pitt Panthers. Competition is set to begin at 7 p.m. inside Fitzgerald Field House.

Friday’s meet will be streamed live on ESPN3 and is available on the WatchESPN app. Direct links to the video stream and live stats can be found on the gymnastics schedule page at WVUsports.com.

“Our assistant coach Zaakira (Muhammad) tells the team to copy and paste all the time,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “I’ve been saying that all week. The energy has been great in practice, as well as conditioning. They are excited to head back to Pittsburgh. I want the same thing tomorrow night. I want those 24 hit routines. We still had mistakes on every event that we can fix, so we can keep adding to that score. The way that the rankings are being calculated this year, we can make some substantial gains this weekend. Our goal is to be aggressive and have fun. The skills are there, so now, we just have to do some Mountaineer magic.”

West Virginia won the first of three consecutive meetings with Pitt last week, earning a 195.900-194.175 victory on March 5, at Fitzgerald Field House, in Pittsburgh.

The Mountaineers hit 24-for-24 routines for the first time this season and earned a 48.700-47.900 edge over the Panthers on uneven bars, a 49.100-48.525 win on balance beam and a 49.300-48.950 victory on floor exercise. The two squads also posted matching 48.8 marks on vault.

WVU’s final total was good for a season best. The Mountaineers also scored a season high in their third rotation, tallying a 49.0 or higher on floor in five of their last six meets. Additionally, the squad notched a season-best mark on vault.

Individually, nine gymnasts earned 12 podium finishes at Pitt last week. Junior Kendra Combs paced WVU and won the bars and floor titles outright. The Windsor, Connecticut, native posted a winning, 9.825 performance on bars, good for a season high, before scoring her third 9.9 of the season on floor and matching her personal best for the fourth time.

WVU is 66-16-2 all-time against Pitt. The Mountaineers also hold a 26-10-1 record in Pittsburgh, as well as a 20-4-1 mark inside the WVU Coliseum.

This week’s Road to Nationals Rankings are the second of the season based on National Qualifying Score (NQS). WVU comes in at No. 36 with an NQS of 195.456, meaning if the 2021 season ended today, the Mountaineers would qualify for an NCAA Regional meet.

WVU ranks as high as No. 23 on floor, moving up two spots from last week, thanks to an NQS of 49.225. The Mountaineers also are tied at No. 33 on beam (49.013 NQS) and No. 43 on vault (48.781 NQS). West Virginia also sits at No. 43 bars (48.663 NQS).

Individually, Combs is the lone Mountaineer to rank inside the top 60 in all four events. She is tied at No. 55 on floor with an NQS of 9.888.

Regionally, four Mountaineers are ranked inside the top 25 on floor, paced by Combs at No. 7. Sophomore Emily Holmes-Hackerd follows at No. 18 (9.856 NQS), while senior McKenna Linnen and sophomore Abbie Pierson are tied at No. 21 with matching 9.844 NQSs.

On beam, freshman Chloe Asper leads WVU with a 9.838 NQS and is tied at No. 14, followed by Linnen, who is tied at No. 16 with an NQS of 9.831. Pierson rounds out the Mountaineers’ beam lineup and is tied at No. 24 (9.788 NQS).

The Panthers show an overall NQS of 194.538 and rank as high as No. 39 on beam (48.869 NQS). Last week, two Panthers earned individual event titles. Sophomore Emily Liszewski won vault outright with a 9.875 mark, while junior Olivia Miller topped the all-around competition with a score of 39.05.

Looking ahead, the two squads will close out the Backyard Brawl series with a meet in Morgantown on Sunday, March 14, as the Mountaineers play host to the Panthers in their final regular-season contest. Competition is set to begin at 2 p.m.

Press Release Courtesy of West Virginia University Athletics Communications

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