Knights aim for rebound after poor beam effort
Following a mistake-filled meet at West Virginia, the Rutgers gymnastics team returns home on Friday night to the Livingston Recreation Center to face Brown and Bridgeport.
After a respectable 191.150 score at West Virginia, the Scarlet Knights have an opportunity to put up a high score at home and get back on track.
Head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton recognizes how important it is to perform well at home, where her team is most comfortable. Chollet-Norton made it clear she believes that a strong performance on Friday could give her team much-needed momentum.
"We are going to shoot for a high score at home," Chollet-Norton said. "We have to have a good home meet to put it all together."
The event the team has to improve upon from last meet is beam. Although there was a mechanical problem on the Mountaineers' beam that may have contributed to some of the mistakes, Chollet-Norton is not looking for excuses.
"Overall we had a bad beam," Chollet-Norton said. "We need to figure it out and having a home meet is a good time for that."
Chollet-Norton believes the key to her team's improvement is increased competition in practice. With a strong freshman class that boasts several athletes that have competed from the start — along with sophomore transfer Danielle D'Elia — the team boasts unprecedented depth.
"We have so much depth this year, so the lineup is not set," Chollet-Norton said. "There are no guarantees anymore."
The increased competition even caused several seniors to be removed from the competitive team. Chollet-Norton made it clear last season that with the athletes she was bringing in, being a perennial starter did not guarantee anything.
"We have a lot of seniors that are not competing, but we warned them when we left last year," Chollet-Norton said. "We told them what skills you need to be on the competitive team. Some came back with them, some did not."
Despite the potential for acrimony, the team handled the increased struggle for competition time and it has not resulted in any resentment.
"Even though there is intense competition for spots, we are still a really close team," Chollet-Norton said.
Despite not having the space to allow certain seniors on a regular basis, this weekend is an opportunity to get less often used athletes into competition. In addition to the home meet on Friday, the Knights also compete on Sunday against Ithaca and Yale. With two meets on the schedule for the weekend, Chollet-Norton will need to tweak her lineup to rest athletes.
"We are going to see a different lineup on Sunday with Ithaca and Yale," Chollet-Norton said. "We just have to find chances to get some girls rest to keep them healthy."
After correcting technical mistakes, health is the main concern for Chollet-Norton. She stressed cardio work over the offseason to keep her athletes in shape.
"We had the girls focus on conditioning work over the offseason and they came in great shape," Chollet Norton said at media day. "We just need to work to keep them healthy and well rested all season."