Freshman highlights disappointing EAGL showing
The Rutgers gymnastics team closed out their season Saturday in New Hampshire at the Eastern Atlantic Gymnastics League Championships. The Scarlet Knights finished with a score of 187.650 and ended competition with an eighth place finish.
North Carolina won the championship with a score of 196.025, holding off second place North Carolina State who finished with a score of 195.700.
"It was a little disheartening because we knew that we could do better," head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton said. "We are in a little slump and we have to get out of it."
The team also recognizes that against a division as tough as theirs, it is going to be difficult to beat many teams even if they gave their best performance.
"We were going up against many of the top-36 [teams] in the country," Chollet-Norton said. "We have a tough conference."
On Friday evening at an awards banquet, freshman Jenna Zito was named an EAGL Second Team All-Around selection. Zito competed in the all-around competition in every meet but the Knights' last contest and against North Carolina due to an ankle injury. On the season, Zito leads Rutgers with an average score of 37.876.
"We were really excited and really proud of her," Chollet-Norton said. "It is a great honor and a great accomplishment."
Not only did opposing coaches recognize Zito for her efforts, her own team also heaped the praise on the freshman.
"We have to pick an MVP and the team voted her as well," Chollet-Norton said.
On Saturday, Zito continued demonstrating the talent that warranted her recognition. Zito scored a 9.725 on vault and continued her strong day with a score of 9.625 on floor exercises.
Along with Zito, the rest of the freshmen class also turned in strong performances in a pressure meet. Nicole Roman scored a 9.650 in vault, helping the Knights score a 48.300 in the event. Emma-Rose Trentacosti led Rutgers on the balance beam with a score of 9.300.
"I was really impressed," Chollet-Norton said. "It was their first big-time meet."
After career performances on Senior Night, the three seniors performed well in their last EAGL championship. Laura Sevarino led the team with a career-high score in vault of 9.800. Prishani Seebadri also set a high score with a 9.775 in vault, her highest mark of the year. Alyssa Lewandowski also posted strong marks, scoring a 9.650 and 9.500 in vault and floor exercise, respectively.
Despite a somewhat disappointing weekend, Chollet-Norton and her team has reason for optimism. The team officially qualified for nationals, leaving two weeks to rest and prepare.
"It's official. We qualified for nationals," Chollet-Norton said. "But the kids really need a break. They will get to have their first weekend off since January."
Over the course of the next two weeks, Chollet-Norton and her assistant coaches will focus on not overworking the team so late in the season, but also on preparing them for the pressure of nationals.
"They need rest but they also need to get ready," Chollet-Norton said. "We are going to go back to putting more pressure on them in practice by judging routines and putting them in meet situations."