WVU gymnastics preps for No. 7 Denver

Gold and Blue Nation

Following a season-best performance, the West Virginia University gymnastics team plays host to No. 7 Denver on Thursday, Feb. 11, for its Cancer Awareness Meet, sponsored by WVU Medicine. Competition is set to begin at 1 p.m. ET.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 protocols, and for the overall safety of spectators at indoor events, attendance will be capped at 1,500 spectators. Priority will be given to families and guests of the gymnasts and gymnastics coaching staffs, along with a limited number of WVU students and fans.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by visiting WVUGAME.com or calling 1-800-WVU GAME to avoid lines at the gate on meet day. When purchasing online, tickets are $5 each. At the ticket window on meet day, any remaining tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors. The discounted online pricing will be available until the start of competition.

The Mountaineer Ticket Office, as well as the Gold Gate, opens an hour before competition on meet day. WVU students are admitted for free with a valid Student I.D. All tickets are reserved in blocks, ranging from one to six seats, and socially distanced. When purchasing tickets, the system will allocate the best seats available based on the quantity selected.

Facemasks will be required of all spectators entering the arena and should be worn at all times, with the exception of when eating and drinking.

Thursday’s action will be carried live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, the conference’s digital platform, with Michael Minnich and Julia Merwin on the call. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $5.99 a month (or $59.99 per year) at ESPNplus.com, ESPN.com or on the ESPN App (mobile and connected devices). It also is available as part of The Disney Bundle offer that gives subscribers access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu (ad-supported) — all for just $12.99/month.

Direct links to the video stream and live stats can be found on the gymnastics schedule page at WVUsports.com.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Mountaineer coach Jason Butts said. “With one practice, there is not a whole lot that we can reinvent. We are going to be shuffling up the lineups a little bit tomorrow. We’re heading into our fourth meet, and some other people are ready to go. It’s still kind of early as far as the lineup process, but I think after this meet, you will start to see them be a little bit more concrete.

“Yesterday, we just focused on hitting routines and fixing some of the little things that we had go wrong. Hopefully, we will have a great performance tomorrow, and then, we’ll be back in the gym next week for a full week of practice.”

The Mountaineers are 0-2 at the WVU Coliseum this season and 0-3 against ranked teams.

In the summer of 2015, the Big 12 Conference announced Denver’s addition to the league’s gymnastics schedule. UD spent the previous two seasons in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference, winning the conference title in 2014.

The Mountaineers (0-3, 0-3) and Pioneers (3-2, 1-2) will meet for the 17th time overall on Thursday. UD owns an 11-5 all-time series advantage and is 7-1 against WVU since joining the league in 2016. The two teams last met in a tri-meet on Feb. 2, 2019, with Denver capturing a 197.45-196.125 victory at the WVU Coliseum. West Virginia’s last win took place on Jan. 29, 2017, when the squad claimed a 196.3-195.9 victory in Morgantown.

Thursday will be a tight battle between the Mountaineers and Pioneers on floor exercise, as both teams rank inside the top 20 in the event. WVU’s lineup moved up four spots to No. 20 (49.017 avg.) in this week’s Road to Nationals Rankings, while Denver sits at No. 14 (49.094 avg.).

Denver’s Lynnzee Brown boasts the second-highest floor average (9.883 avg.) in the Big 12 this season, followed by junior Kendra Combs in third with a 9.867 season average.

Last week, WVU earned a season-high score in a 196.125-195.175 loss to No. 17 Iowa State on Feb. 7, at the WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown. The Mountaineers finished second to the Cyclones on every event but floor. WVU also completed the meet with seven podium finishes, including a tie for first on two events.

Combs tied for first overall on floor with a matching career-high score of 9.9. The mark was WVU’s first 9.9 score of the season. Sophomore Kianna Yancey also tied for first overall on balance beam with a career-high mark of 9.85. She made her season debut in the event and competed on beam for just the third time in her career.

Denver notched a second-place, 196.725 score against No. 5 Oklahoma and Temple on Feb. 7, wrapping up a three-meet home stand in which nearly half of their roster was unavailable to WVU Preps for No. 7 Denvercompete.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit WVUsports.com and follow WVUGymnastics on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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