MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In front of the second-largest gymnastics crowd in WVU Coliseum history, the West Virginia University gymnastics team earned a third-place finish at the 2023 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship, hosted by WVU in Morgantown on Saturday night.

A crowd of 3,742 watched the Mountaineers finish in third place for the second straight year, marking WVU’s first back-to-back third-place finish since 2016-17. West Virginia posted a final score of 196.225, its fifth consecutive score of 196.0 or higher. The Mountaineers tallied event scores of 49.175 on vault, 48.7 on the uneven bars, 48.875 on balance beam and 49.475 on floor exercise.

No. 1 Oklahoma was crowned the 2023 Big 12 Champion, taking first place with a team score of 198.4. No. 13 Denver finished in second with a 197.175, and Iowa State placed fourth with a 193.75.

West Virginia opened the meet on bars and was immediately faced with adversity after a fall and an injury during the opening rotation. Senior Kianna Yancey paced the lineup with a 9.8, while fifth-year senior Kendra Combs was just behind her with a 9.75. Senior Emily Holmes-Hackerd and freshman Miranda Smith added a pair of 9.725s, and the scoring was capped by a 9.7 from sophomore Anna Leigh.

After a tough opening event, WVU moved to beam, where it once again worked to overcome a fall during the rotation. Yancey continued to lead the way with an impressive 9.875, followed by Holmes-Hackerd (9.85) and classmate Abbie Pierson (9.825). Freshman Carlee Nelson, who was substituted last minute following the injury on bars, secured a 9.675, and Combs tallied a 9.65 to complete the rotation.

In need of a momentum shift, the Mountaineers moved to their best event, floor exercise. The squad got the scores they needed with four scores of 9.9 or higher. Holmes-Hackerd led the lineup for the fifth straight meet with a 9.925, followed by a trio of 9.9s from Pierson, Combs and Yancey. Junior Kiana Lewis rounded out the scores with a 9.85.

Closing the meet on vault, WVU used its momentum from floor to put together a solid performance to close the meet. Lewis’ 9.9 led the way, while Pierson and sophomore Brooke Alban tallied matching 9.85s. Freshman Emma Wehry secured a 9.8, and Yancey closed the scoring with a 9.775.

West Virginia played host to the Big 12 Championship for just the third time in program history Saturday night, as well as the second time in the past three years. Also of note, Saturday’s championship marked the first time that a gymnastics meet has been contested on podium in the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers now wait to learn their fate in the 2023 NCAA Gymnastics Championships. The 2023 NCAA Selection Show is set for Monday, March 20, at 12 p.m. ET, on WVU will compete at one of four regional sites set for the 2023 championships, as this year’s regional site hosts include Pittsburgh, Denver, Oklahoma, and UCLA.