LIVE BLOG: No. 44 Central Michigan, No. 43 Pittsburgh at No. 35 West Virginia

Are you ready for a tri meet including three different conferences? Challengers Central Michigan and Pittsburgh will be representing the MAC and EAGL respectively, as they try to take down the Big 12’s West Virginia. 

A strong all around battle may be brewing this afternoon between Hannah DeMers and Hallie Copperwheat, with their season highs separated by only 0.125. Both have earned their conference’s Gymnast of the Week accolade multiple times in 2023 so far, and can still improve by dropping early season scores below 39.000. An all around performance today from Kianna Yancey will add her to the national rankings, and give home team fans a name to watch for throughout the afternoon. 

Central Michigan and Pittsburgh are poised to have standout rotations on bars, though all three of today’s teams have shown their ability to go over 49.000. Watch for Central Michigan’s Adriana Bustelo and her career high of 9.925, Pittsburgh’s freshman Natalia Pawlak and her 9.950 cap – but keep an eye out for Mountaineer Brooke Alban, who currently leads her team on the event.

All eyes will be on West Virginia’s floor rotation, going as high as 49.575 this season so far. Six of their eight gymnasts who have competed the event this year have reached 9.900. Their deep floor roster will look to put on a show at home and push into the top 25 nationally, entering the meet a mere 0.005 out from that rank. 

This afternoon’s tri meet will be streamed on ESPN+.

Rotation 1:  West Virgina VT, Pittsburgh UB, Central Michigan BB

Lewis (WVU): huge Y full, hop back. 9.900.

Alvarado-Reid (CMU): stream only showed the second half of her routine, but commentators are saying it looked like her best of the season. small hop forwards on her piked gainer full. 9.750.

Pierson (WVU): college stick on her Y full. 9.925.

Garvey (Pitt): sky high Jaeger, and gets great lift over the bar in her toe on half dismount! 9.700.

Wehry (WVU): small hop forwards on her blind landing. 9.875.

Ewing (Pitt): blind half to a big piked Jaeger, then free hip handstand to a bail. Extra swing in the routine, but doesn’t affect her momentum — sticks the blind full to double tuck. 9.325.

Mueller (CMU): opens with a calm bhs loso, then small check on her switch to switch half. checks again on a front aerial. DEEP squat to save her cartwheel 1.5 dismount, but stays up. 9.675.

Pawlak (Pitt): great first handstand, big release and keeps her ankles glued in the bail. super close to sticking her ftdt dismount. 9.850.

Bustelo (CMU): conference before she can begin. calm beat jump to front aerial. steps out of her bhs loso to stay up, covers it nicely. back leg is a tad low on her switch to split half. looks like she could hold the stick on her punch front tuck full dismount, but steps while saluting. 9.800.

Lerro (Pitt): a tad loose on the toe handstand to Maloney, but keeps rhythm. blind half to double front dismount takes a small step forwards. 9.750.

AFTER ONE: West Virginia 49.425, Central Michigan 48.725, Pittsburgh 48.750

Pitt and West Virginia were both afforded starting on a strong event for their teams, while Central Michigan tackled their current nemesis in the beam first. It will take at least another rotation to get a fuller picture on today’s tri meet.

Rotation 2: West Virginia UB, Pittsburgh BB, Central Michigan FX

Yancey (WVU): strong first handstand, right into the Pak. toe handstand to Maloney half, and carries it through to a nearly stuck double layout. 9.850.

Combs (WVU): leg separation in the Maloney and Pak. strong handstands and keeps her legs together through her blind full and double tuck. 9.750.

Alvarado-Reid (CMU): calm fhs Rudi to double stag. Rotates her switch half to wolf full, and then right down to a double wolf turn with a small check. Closes with a roundoff 1.5 to a floaty punch layout. 9.825.

Duke (Pitt): walks out of her bhs loso to keep it up. small check on her side aerial. breaks connection between her switch and switch half, then regroups and nearly sticks her roundoff 1.5 dismount. 9.725.

Smith (WVU): Big Tkatchev off the top, and swings the interior of her routine with loads of torque on the bars in her circling skills. nearly sticks her double layout. 9.750.

Ewing (Pitt): Grazes the beam with her hand saving her side aerial, then recovers for a solid front aerial bhs. equally fluid switch to switch half, and sticks her gainer full off the side with her chest up. 9.775.

Veglucci (CMU): opens with a fast fhs front double full, then almost immediately into a double tuck with a big lunge back for her second pass. closes with a roundoff 2.5 to punch front tuck, ankles glued together throughout. 9.900.

Garvey (Pitt): great height in her leaps, then lands her bhs loso with no hesitation. small step forwards landing her punch front. super unique switch split jump into a pike jump, then college sticks her piked gainer off the end. 9.925.

Pitchell (CMU): great lift in her opening double pike, stuck cold with chest up. toes up to the sky on her leaps. combination pass without a hitch, just a larger-than-shoulder-witdth step forwards. absorbs the landing on her double tuck before taking her lunge back, and immediately swallowed up by her teammates celebrating. 9.800.

AFTER TWO: West Virginia: 98.325, Central Michigan: 98.025, Pittsburgh: 98.000

Scoring is slower than normal today, but it seems to only affect Central Michigan. They will rally to make up what they’ve narrowed to only a three tenth deficit as they head to vault next, with big scoring potential from DeMers. Pittsburgh is equally one great floor rotation away from taking West Virginia’s lead, as the Mountaineers take to beam.

Rotation 3: Central Michigan VT, West Virginia BB, Pittsburgh FX

Holmes-Hackerd (WVU): very fluid cat leap to front aerial and back tuck. uses the cat leap again, to switch and then another back tuck. sticks her gainer full cold! 9.875.

Alvarado-Reid (CMU): sticks her Y full, only an arm circle on the landing and maybe a deep chest angle (hard to tell without the side view). 9.875.

Cesarone (CMU): put this vault on 9.950 watch, stuck cold Y full with no obvious landing angles. 9.925!

Kmeciak (CMU): Y full with a hop back, very flared in the post flight. 9.850.

DeMers (CMU): another textbook Y full for Central Michigan, only a hop back. 9.875.

Yancey (WVU): incredibly calm through her whole routine, right to a stuck roundoff 1.5. 9.925.

Ewing (Pitt): nearly sticks her double pike cold to start the routine, then gets right into dancing with her teammates. roundoff 1.5 punch lay, and stumbles forwards out of bounds. switch half to wolf full gets loads of height. closes with a double tuck, plants her feet in the lunge. 9.725.

Copperwheat (Pitt): starts with a big punch front through to double pike, then wastes no time getting into her switch half to two wolf fulls. takes her time between passes and then nails her double tuck to finish. 9.875.

Leigh (WVU): carries the Mountaineers’ beam momentum today, took a tempo deduction on her front aerial to bhs but otherwise was solid today. 9.875.

Wehry  (WVU): HUGE amplitude in her switch to straddle jump series. side aerial to two feet with no issues. dismounts with a punch front tuck full, tries to hold it but hops forward. 9.750.

Garvey (Pitt): VERY floaty front full to layout, puts on a masterclass on how to control a lunge. switch half to wolf full was a tad overrotated. she rides the set up in her double pike, helps to get it around without stinging. 9.850.

AFTER THREE: West Virginia 147.800, Central Michigan 147.350, Pittsburgh 147.000

West Virginia saw how close the meet was at the halfway point, and then went nearly lights out on beam to respond. Their stellar senior class put up big scores, including a pair of 9.925’s from Yancey and Combs. They’ll look to close off a standout meet on their strongest event, at the same time as Central Michigan on theirs. Pittsburgh will look to hang in the meet on vault — keep an eye out for Sidney Washington in their final rotation, as well as Hallie Copperwheat who currently has a narrow hold on today’s all around race.

Rotation 4: Pittsburgh VT, Central Michigan UB, West Virginia FX

Lewis (WVU): floats her fhs Rudi to loso beautifully, and keeps it in bounds. double tucks out of the frame in her second pass, after taking her time in the dance and her leap series. 9.875.

Veglucci (CMU): great first handstand, blind half to a huge Geinger. small leg separation in the Pak, but rallies for her final handstand and double layout. 9.775.

Duke (Pitt): stuck Y full, seemed a little surprised with how well it absorbed. 9.900.

Bustelo (CMU): not scared of handstands at all, SOARS on her Tkatchev. a tad short on her blind full, but takes it to a flawless double tuck. 9.750.

Washington (Pitt): blocks off the side of the table, post flight travels even further sideways. no issues in the air, and takes a small hop back. 9.775.

Copperwheat (Pitt): closes off vault for the afternoon with another stuck Y full! she has an obvious elbow bend on the table, so expect that to reflect in the scores, as well as subsequent amplitude. 9.800.

DeMers (CMU): very comfortable in all of her handstands. nearly sticks her ftdt dismount. 9.825.

Pierson (WVU): leg separation in her double layout, but takes it to a comfortable landing and lunge. switch side, wolf full and Popa all get well above hip level. forwards combo pass takes a step forward, disguised as her lunge. 9.925.

Combs (WVU): punch front to double pike stuck cold. switch side to wolf full Popa with no rotation or heigh issues, still bounding out of it. Double tuck takes the smallest of slides back into her lunge to close. 9.875.

Holmes-Hackerd (WVU): lays down the gauntlet in her Rudi layout and straddle jump, incredibly straight bodyline in the layout. leaps get her toes up to the rafters. slides back into her lunge on the double pike, likely her only deduction to close off a massive floor rotation. 9.950.

FINAL: West Virginia 197.325 Central Michigan 196.500, Pittsburgh 196.125

All three of today’s teams register scores they’ll be happy with, punctuated by West Virginia’s near-record 197.325. We’ll have to wait another week or two to get a better picture of how these scores play into bubble watch, between team scores and individual NQS rankings.

The Mountaineers will travel south to face LSU this coming Friday, and then to New Jersey at Rutgers’ tri meet on Sunday to tune up before hosting Big 12 championships the following weekend. Central Michigan will look to equal or better today’s road score at Kent State’s senior night in one week’s time, while Pittsburgh will host LIU on Friday night.

VT Winners: Pierson, Cesarone, 9.925.

UB Winner: Alvarado-Reid, 9.875.

BB Winner: Yancey, Combs, Garvey, 9.925.

FX Winner: Holmes-Hackerd, 9.950.

AA Winner: Yancey, 39.450.

READ THIS NEXT: Country Roads Take Muhammad Back Home to West Virginia

Article by Peri Goodman

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