Pitt gymnastics celebrates senior night with win over WVU


Photo courtesy of Alex Mowrey, Pitt Athletics

Pitt gymnastics (6-10-1, 5-7-1 EAGL) won a match against West Virginia (2-7, 0-6 Big 12) on Friday night, beating the Mountaineers by a final score of 195.100-194.675 at the Fitzgerald Field House. However, the team couldn’t maintain momentum and ultimately lost on Sunday by a margin of 196.100-193.400.

By Tricia Caucci, For The Pitt News

After Pitt gymnastics (6-10-1, 5-7-1 EAGL) lost its first match in the three-meet series of the Backyard Brawl, the Panthers came back with a vengeance in match two on Friday night, beating West Virginia (2-7, 0-6 Big 12) by a final score of 195.100-194.675 at the Fitzgerald Field House. But despite their opponent’s momentum, the Mountaineers turned out a compelling win on Sunday by a margin of 196.100-193.400.

Head coach Samantha Snider said the Friday win was a proper send-off for the team’s seniors.

“It’s always exciting for Pitt to beat West Virginia, at anything,” Snider said. “And so especially even more so when it’s on senior night. That night means so much to our team and our program, to honor our seniors and their last home competition. So to be able to end on a high note and have a win against a rival in the Backyard Brawl, is always satisfying, and obviously very exciting.”

The Panthers started the meet steady with a score of 48.65 on the vault, but they ultimately ceded the event title to the Mountaineers. Panther sophomore Ciara Ward earned a 9.775 and third place on the podium. Graduate student Katrina Coca received a 9.7, her season high in the event.

WVU began competitively, taking the uneven bar title with a season best of 49.075 — all of its competing gymnasts either matched or posted a season best.

Yet, Pitt junior Olivia Miller ended up taking home the win for bars with a personal best of 9.9. Two other career highs culminated from the team’s upbeat energy. First-year Trinity Macy opened the rotation with a high of 9.85 and junior Caitlyn Kline helped her team with a score of 9.4.

The balance beam was no exception to Pitt’s record breaking. Miller posted a season high of 9.8, and sophomore Christina Weiss earned a 9.325. Coca, one of the seniors honored, secured a three-way tie for first on the balance beam with fellow Pitt teammates senior Jordan Ceccarini — who reached her personal season high — and sophomore Lauren Beckwith. Coca said she was excited to win the event and tie with her teammates.

“It was amazing. I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” Coca said. “I go out there, and I do one thing at a time, and we did one thing at a time. It was great, especially to share it with another senior. That was awesome, too.”

The Panthers finished strong by tying a season high of 48.950 in floor exercise. Coca and Macy collected new career highs with 9.775 and 9.800, respectively.

In the end, the Panthers won the match with relentless drive to beat their own personal records. All three Panthers in the all-around reached their career highs, with Miller in first at 39.250, then Coca in second with 39.150 and Beckwith at 39.000 in fourth. This meet tied the season series with their rivals at 1-1.

But the Panthers lost their edge in the following meet in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Sunday, losing all four events. Snider said the loss had to do with preparation and focus.

“Tonight, we had some mental mistakes, so it’s not really physical at this point in the season,” Snider said. “It’s just about the mental game and how you can prepare and focus and handle any competition anxiety that might arise. And so we didn’t do the best job at that tonight. That’s why we had some errors.”

The Panthers missed the mark with their first event, the uneven bars, earning a season low of 47.550. The lone bright spot was Coca, who had a podium finish at second place with 9.825.

WVU burst into the meet hot with a season-high score of 48.925 on vault. The high-energy atmosphere continued with all six gymnasts sticking their landings on the uneven bars and securing a 48.9 in the event.

Pitt picked it up by climbing back to its typical 48-point range. Miller earned third place on vault with a 9.775, and Ceccarini tied her season best at 9.75. Together, the team received an event score of 48.625.

The Mountaineers had two powerful scores of 49.125 and 49.15 on the beam and floor, respectively, to close the meet with their own season-high score of 196.100.

During floor exercise, Miller led Pitt with a score of 9.825. The Panthers collected a team score of 48.475.

The Panthers completed the meet with their heads held high, recording career-high scores on the balance beam. Beckwith scored first place by posting a score of 9.875. Miller gained a new record of 9.825 and Weiss claimed a 9.65.

Miller earned her second consecutive all-around win on Sunday, scoring a 39.125. Coca placed third with a 38.925 and Beckwith with her score of 38.675.

Despite Pitt’s final showing, Snider remains optimistic about the future.

“Moving forward as we go into championships, it’s really a clean slate and is anybody’s game at the EAGL championships,” Snider says. “So we’re really focused on wiping the slate clean, kind of pressing reset and going in there to give 100% and have the best meet that we have had all year and put it all together on that one night. So we’ll focus on the details. We’ll focus on our mental preparation, and just be prepared to go out and be confident next Saturday.”

Pitt will host the 2021 East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship at the Petersen Events Center on March 20. This will be the first time the Pete will serve as the championship event site since 2004. Pittsburgh has not hosted since 2016. ESPN3 will stream the championship’s split sessions beginning at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.