Home tri-meet yields highest score of season
With the number of meets left in the season shrinking, the Rutgers gymnastics team had yet to find its rhythm — until Saturday night.
The Scarlet Knights posted a season-high mark of 192.050 for a second place finish in a tri-meet at the Livingston Recreation Center, falling to Alaska-Anchorage but finishing ahead of Bridgeport.
Alaska-Anchorage (5-7) won the meet with a score of 192.775 and Bridgeport (10-10) finished third with 191.850 points. The win over Bridgeport was RU's first in three tries this season against the Purple Knights.
"We know we have a good team and we just never put it together," said head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton. "After last weekend [at Penn State] we sat down as a team and said ‘What are we doing wrong, what needs to change?'"
And change they did. The Knights got strong performances from senior Kristy Behr and sophomore Sunny Gerlach as RU (6-13) posted a season-high 47.625 on bars.
Behr's 9.725 was a career high and the senior said the team is starting to gel at the right time.
"It was amazing," Behr said of the team's performance on bars. "I knew that we could do it and that's why it was frustrating at times, but the girls stuck together and we pulled together as a team and made it happen."
Gerlach's mark of 9.750 came just one week after the bars broke during her routine at Penn State, but the sophomore was still confident in her routine.
"I knew I just had to come back and train," Gerlach said. "Things happen and there's nothing you can do about it and I came into this meet knowing that I could hit it."
The Knights were not content with their success on the bars, as they concluded the meet with a floor routine that finished tied for first with meet winner the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Sophomore Kiah Banfield led RU with a third place score of 9.775 on the floor. Freshman Danae Johnson and sophomore Maddie Zweibel also chipped in marks that were 9.7 or higher on the floor.
"Yes we did [eliminate mistakes]," Chollet-Norton said. "The more numbers you do in practice, you know you're going to make it in the meet and we said ‘Girls, you need to train harder and we will bring it to the floor' and that's what happened [tonight]."
The Seawolves were strong throughout the night and grabbed the lead after a big floor routine in the third rotation and were able to hold off RU despite the Knights' late charge on the floor. Alaska-Anchorage's Shakea Sanders provided the meet's most entertaining performance with an effusive hip-hop themed floor routine that landed her a second place score of 9.825.
The 192.050 was RU's highest score since they recorded a mark of 192.575 in a 2007 meet against Cornell.
"That's what we're hoping for," Chollet-Norton said. "We have one more home meet and then hopefully we can take this show on the road and show people because there are some people in the conference that are going to say ‘How did they get a 192?' Win, losses don't really matter to us because we are looking to qualify people for nationals."