The Dominion Post  

WVU gymnasts not landing the little things right

Created on:   Tue, Feb 13, 2018   7:42 PM

Last modified:   Tue, Feb 13, 2018   7:42 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — WVU gymnastics coach Jason Butts is happy with the way his team has performed this season, but one thing has been a thorn in the Mountaineers’ side.

It reared its ugly head at the University of Denver’s Winterfest Classic, on Feb. 10, against the Pioneers and George Washington.

“We have a lot more fine-tuning to do, and in gymnastics, it’s all about a tenth (of a point) here or tenth there,” Butts said. “If we do that across four events, your score could have been about two points higher than it actually was. That’s where we are kind of stuck at right now — we need to clean up those little tenths.”

National rankings are not based on wins and losses in gymnastics, as they are in many sports. They’re based on the average scores of individual performances. Those small tenths of a point lost over the course of a meet will drastically affect the final result.

Of the third-place finish at the Denver meet, associate head coach Travis Doak said WVU’s “consistency is still there, and again we did not count a fall. Tonight needs to serve as motivation for this team to fine-tune its routines. Our consistency is there, just not the execution. These are easy adjustments for this team.”

Butts said it was the worst meet WVU had in terms of execution, and that is something you never want to see on the road. The Mountaineers did not record a fall, though, something they hadn’t done all season. Butts believes few other teams can make that claim.

Still, it has to be cleaned up heading into the rest of the year.

“I think it showed them that, yeah, we’re not falling, but we’re not bulletproof,” Butts said. “They were disappointed about Denver, but as a coaching staff, we’re a big believer in them, so we’re going to use it as motivation to try and get this thing going.”

WVU will have four practices leading up to Sunday’s Beauty and the Beast competition, at the Coliseum. The gymnastics team will face Pitt and Maryland, while the WVU wrestling team will go up against Clarion — at the same time.

It will also be senior day for three WVU gymnasts: Robyn Bernard, Jordan Gillette and Zaakira Muhammad.

Bernard, of Silver Springs, Md., was on the all-Big 12 rookie team as a freshman and has improved all four years she’s been with the program.

In turn she has seen improvement in the program.

“There’s been a lot more talent — every year, the girls have been doing better and better,” Bernard said. “Every year, we’ve gotten closer. The team has had a tighter bond, and it’s shown in competitions.”

Bernard knew Gillette before arriving in Morgantown. Gillette, a Natrona Heights, Pa., native, competed against Bernard since they were in eighth grade. Both are also in the same major, exercise physiology, so they spend a lot of time in class, as well.

Bernard and Muhammad did not know each other prior to college, but are now roommates after budding into best friends.

All three will walk onto the floor with their families Sunday, prior to their last home meet.

Butts hopes for a big crowd because his team feeds off the fans.

“If you look at some of our highest scores, it correlates with highest attendance,” he said. “The more involved the crowd is, the easier it is to get focused. You can get lost in that moment and everything starts going right.”

Mountaineer Fan Fest will be held prior to the meet. Members of the football, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, rifle, volleyball, tennis, rowing, cheer and dance teams will be there, hosting fun activities.

Gates open at 12:30 p.m., and the competitions start at 2 p.m.