January 22, 2019 | ° F

RU back at home for first of two meets

As the season comes to a close, the Rutgers gymnastics team will look to gain momentum as it returns home for two consecutive meets.

The Scarlet Knights will host Bridgeport and the University of Alaska-Anchorage Saturday night at the Livingston Recreation Center.

RU is coming off a fourth place finish in a quad-meet at 17th-ranked Penn State. In that meet, the Knights got off to a rough start, but were paced by the performance of freshmen Danae Johnson and Nicole Schwartz.

Johnson led the Knights on the floor with a team-best score of 9.500 while Schwartz was the only RU gymnast to compete in the all-around finishing with a mark of 37.975. the Knights finished with a total score of 187.525.

"We really didn't start well on bars," said head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton. "A mistake here or there was the difference. A lot of things that could go differently didn't. We got Latara [Northcutt] and Nicole [Rose] back on floor, but when you don't compete for a couple weeks you're going to be rusty."

Northcutt, RU's top all-around gymnast, was injured in warm-ups before a Jan. 31 meet at West Virginia and has been easing her way back into the lineup since.

Slight mistakes have plagued the Knights all year and five falls led to a deduction in points that cost RU a higher team score. Chollet-Norton said that if her team can fix a bobble here and there, the team can be a factor down the stretch.

"The girls know it is crunch time," she said. "We have a great team — we just have to put it all together."

The Knights (5-15) will also look to get a strong performance from senior Jessica Haddaway who reemerged last week after struggling with injuries and falls early in the season.

"It was really great to her hit her routines," Chollet-Norton said. "She's struggled a little bit this year with injuries and I like to see her finish on a strong note. For her to hit both her routines is a great confidence builder and she's starting to find her rhythm."

Bridgeport (9-7) also competed at Penn State last week finishing third with a score of 189.475. The Purple Knights are ranked as the No. 1 Division II team in the country and have already beaten their Scarlet counterparts twice this season.

The University of Alaska-Anchorage (3-6) will be the third participant in the tri-meet. The Seawolves have won their last two, sweeping Temple in back-to-back meets at home, and will travel to Pennsylvania for a tri-meet Friday before heading to the Banks Saturday.

Kyle Franko

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