The West Virginia University gymnastics team travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the 2023 NCAA Pittsburgh Regional Championships, which runs from March 30 – April 2, inside the Petersen Events Center. The Mountaineers will open competition in the first of two Second Round meets on Friday, March 31, at 2 p.m. ET.
No. 29 West Virginia (12-9, 1-2 Big 12) will start the meet on vault, competing against No. 7 California, No. 10 Michigan State and No. 26 Western Michigan. Competing in Friday’s second session are No. 2 Florida, No. 15 Arizona State, No. 24 Maryland and the winner of a play-in meet between No. 31 Towson and No. 32 Penn State. The top two teams from each session will advance to the regional final, which is set for Sunday, April 2, at 5 p.m.
The top two teams from Sunday’s meet and the top all-around competitor (who is not on an advancing team) will receive an automatic berth to the National Championships, as will the top event specialist at each regional site who is not a part of an advancing team. Results from Friday’s competitions will be used to determine individual qualifiers.
Each meet will be broadcast on ESPN+, with Alex Perlman and Bridget Sloan on the call. Live stats also are available at SidearmStats.com.
The Mountaineers’ NCAA Regionals bid marks the 43rd regional championships berth for West Virginia, its 38th in NCAA competition, and the team’s eighth consecutive qualification. WVU has advanced to the NCAA National Championships three times (1995, 1999, 2000) since 1983.The Mountaineers’ last NCAA National Championships berth came in 2000, when Hall of Fame coach Linda Burdette led WVU to a 12th-place finish with a 194.175 total.
Now-assistant head coach Zaakira Muhammad was the last Mountaineer to qualify for the National Championships as an individual, earning a spot as an individual event specialist in the all-around. Muhammad earned second team All-America honors after finishing 15th overall with a 39.0375 total.
In this week’s Road to Nationals rankings, WVU sits at No. 19 on floor exercise with a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 49.380. West Virginia’s floor lineup has a season best of 49.575, earned on Feb. 19. The Mountaineers have been ranked inside the top 25 on floor for 29 of the last 30 weeks, dating back to Jan. 25, 2021. West Virginia also earned its highest vault ranking of the year this week, checking in at No. 19 with a 49.195 NQS.
Overall, the Mountaineers rank No. 29 nationally with a season NQS of 196.515, marking its highest ranking of the season as well as a program-best NQS entering the postseason. Elsewhere, WVU sits at No. 36 on beam (49.055) and No. 48 on bars (48.930)
Senior Emily Holmes-Hackerd ranks No. 25 nationally on floor exercise with a 9.925 season NQS. She also is No. 4 in the southeast region and No. 5 in the Big 12 Conference. Also in the region, senior Abbie Pierson and junior Kiana Lewis are tied for No. 17 (9.880), while fifth-year senior Kendra Combs, senior Kianna Yancey and junior Ellen Collins all follow in a tie for No. 26 (9.870). In the conference floor rankings, Pierson and Lewis sit at No. 11, while Combs, Yancey and Collins follow in a tie for No. 14.
Last time out, West Virginia played host to the 2023 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship on March 18, inside the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. The Mountaineers finished 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.
WVU 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. Yancey paced WVU bars (9.8) and beam (9.875), while Holmes-Hackerd led the way on floor (9.925), and Lewis earned the top score on vault (9.9).