Other teams doing well at WVU

Right or wrong, WVU’s basketball teams receive the lion’s share of publicity during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some big things happening in the other sports representing the old gold and blue.

The No. 1-ranked rifle team will be at Murray State’s Pat Spurgin Rifle Range and CFSB Center this weekend looking for its nation-best 16th national title. Veteran head coach Jon Hammond and his Mountaineers have quietly compiled a 10-0 overall mark and a 7-0 mark in the GARC to put themselves in a position to capture a second straight-and third in the last six seasons-championship.

Should WVU accomplish that feat, it would be the first program to win two or more consecutive titles since Alaska-Fairbanks won three in a row from 2006-08.

The squad is made up of four All-Americans and a member of the Team Slovenia that competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Juniors Meelis Kiisk, Thomas Kyanko and Maren Prediger and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon earned National Rifle Association (NRA) All-America honors last season while junior Ziva Dvorsak competed in the Olympics.

Another program putting together some impressive victories over the past months is head coach Jason Butts’ gymnastics team.

Junior Beth Deal, a native of Parkersburg, earned her second Big 12 Conference weekly honor when she was named the Big 12 Co-Event Specialist of the Week on Tuesday.

Tasked with mounting the beam following a fall, Deal tallied a team-best 9.875 in front of 4,240 fans at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and finished fifth overall as WVU dropped a 198.325-194.925 decision to the No. 2-ranked Gators from the University of Florida.

Deal is just one of several Mountaineers putting together impressive resumes for the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Senior Hope Sloanhoffer is ranked No. 35 nationally in the all-around competition and No. 45 on the vault while freshman Alexa Goldberg checks in at No. 45 on the uneven bars.

Deal (No. 12) and senior Amanda Carpenter (No. 20) are ranked on the beam while sophomore Jaida Lawrence joins Sloanhoffer in the vault at No. 13. Freshman Nicolette Swoboda is No. 17 in the vault.

Junior Dayah Haley rounds out WVU’s nationally-ranked individuals with a No. 22 ranking on floor exercise.

Moving on to wrestling, five members of this year’s squad have qualified for the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City from March 20-22.

Four Mountaineers earned automatic bids with their performances at the Big 12 Championships-freshman Cory Stainbrook (125), junior Mike Morales (149), sophomore Bubba Scheffel (174) and sophomore A.J. Vizcarronda (HWT) while senior Colin Johnston (141) was awarded an at-large bid.

Spring sports have also gotten underway in Morgantown and the baseball team heads into the weekend with an 8-5 mark following a 4-3 loss at UNLV. Junior center fielder Bobby Boyd leads the old gold and blue with a .368 batting average while junior left-hander Harrison Musgrave heads into his fifth start of the season with a 3-0 record and a 1.78 earned run average.

And least we forget, Mike Carey’s women’s basketball team earned a share of the Big 12 regular-season title and finished second in the Big 12 Conference tournament, Bob Huggins’ men’s basketball team entered tournament play as the No. 6 seed after knocking off conference kingpin Kansas and Dan Holgorsen’s football team will resume spring drills on March 18.