September 24, 2018 | ° F

Nationals still in reach after third-place finish

After a first place finish at home, the Rutgers gymnastics team traveled to Ohio to face off against Kent State and Northern Illinois in a tri-meet and finished third with a disappointing score of 187.925—nearly seven points behind first place Kent State.

Host school Kent State finished with a score of 194.575, overcoming falls on beam to achieve season highs in floor and bars. Northern Illinois finished second with a score of 192.775, its second-best score on the season.

While not one of the Scarlet Knights' best meets of the year, head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton was able to take some positives from the long bus trip to Ohio.

"We had three good events," she said. "The team did pretty well considering [that]."

The one event that the Knights performed poorly in was bars, suffering several falls. Chollet-Norton was especially surprised at all the mistakes on bars.

"They had [a] great week training on bars and no one could hit when they had to," Chollet- Norton said. "We did absolutely terribly on bars."

Chollet-Norton is certain that the reason for the team's struggles had nothing to do with intimidation. She is certain that her team is confident enough in its abilities to not let nerves take over.

"My girls aren't intimidated. They know they have the same skill level to compete," Chollet-Norton said. "Maybe the other teams have more depth, but we have the talent."

One of the bright spots for the Knights was the performance of the freshman class of Jenna Zito, Nicole Romano and Emma-Rose Trentacosti. Zito led the Knights in vault with a 9.750, good for third overall. Romano paced the team in floor and finished with a 38.250 in the all-around. Trentacosti tied with Romano to lead the Knights on beam.

"They are freshmen who come from top notch programs so they are used to competing in pressure meets," Chollet-Norton said. "They have competed at a high level so they are used to it."

Despite not performing up to her standards, Chollet-Norton believes this meet might cause her team to raise their intensity level for the rest of the season.

"After this meet, it's reality-check time," Chollet-Norton said. "It's a kick in the butt and now we need to get going."

After scoring in the 187-point range, Chollet-Norton recognizes that her team needs to elevate its performance or risk losing a spot at nationals. Even with Friday's showing, the Knights are still in a good position to make Nationals, but the next few meets will be key to their success.

"I think we are still in the top-eight and that's where we need to remain [for nationals]," Chollet-Norton said. "Its crunch time now. We need to make these next few meets count."

The Knights return to action Saturday hosting William and Mary, Bridgeport and Southern Connecticut State at the Livingston Recreation Center.

Josh Glatt

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