Freshman Zito wastes no time making impact
In most college sports, being a freshman means that you can't be counted on to perform consistently.
Gymnast Jenna Zito is the exception to the rule. Through her first five meets as a collegiate athlete, Zito has served as an impressive all-around performer for Rutgers.
Head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton knew that coming in, Zito was a performer that would achieve beyond her years. Coming from the well-respected, North Stars Gymnastics Academy, Zito's talent level has never been in question.
However, an injury her junior year of high school slowed Zito down. She did not receive the offers an athlete of her level deserved.
"She had an injury in high school so she didn't get a lot of competition time," Chollet-Norton said. "We are lucky to have her."
Zito has done nothing to prove her coach wrong. Through five meets, her 37.855 average leads the team in all-around performance.
"Jenna came in as a really strong all-arounder," Chollet-Norton said. "She has worked hard and continued to get better."
Zito credits some of her strong performance to having three other impressive freshmen to work with. Classmates Nicole Romano, Emma-Rose Trentacosti and Jayne Jefferys have all had strong seasons of their own.
"We have a strong freshman class," Zito said. "We all work hard and push each other."
Senior Laura Sevarino has noticed the work ethic of the youngsters. While she has been able to provide some guidance to the young athletes, the freshmen have been largely self-reliant.
"They are doing a really good job working on their own," Sevarino said. "They are doing their best every day."
Despite her early success and unquestionable desire, Zito recognizes how different college gymnastics is. While she hasn't shown any signs of nerves, Zito is aware of the higher level of skills necessary.
But rather than being intimidated, Zito is relishing the opportunity.
"It's a huge difference in competition," Zito said. "This experience has been everything I could have hoped for. It's just so much fun to be here."
Zito's attitude is paying off. In her most recent meet, she raised her performance to an even higher level. In a highly competitive quad-meet, the Rockaway, N.J., native led the Scarlet Knights in three of four events, registering an impressive 38.250 all-around score.
"I knew she was going to be a breakout athlete," Chollet-Norton said. "She is doing everything we ask of her and she is getting better and better."