RU gears up for relaxed meet in NY
Before entering the most difficult stretch of its schedule, the Rutgers gymnastics team pays a visit Saturday to SUNY Cortland in a tri-meet against the host school and Ursinus.
Fresh off a win at Yale, the Scarlet Knights hope to continue their momentum for the final stretch of the season.
Head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton is happy with how her team performed at Yale, but acknowledges there is still much work to be done. As a less accomplished opponent, SUNY Cortland is a low-pressure meet that could allow the Knights to get into top form for the tougher meets of the year, according to their head coach.
"We had great vaults even if the scores didn't show it and we only had one fall on beam," Chollet-Norton said. "We struggled a little bit on bars, but it was still a good meet."
Even though she was happy with her team's overall performance, Chollet-Norton realized that her team needed to improve in order for it to reach the next level. Recently, the Knights managed to perform well in only three of four events.
"We really need to be able to hit four for four," Chollet-Norton said. "We have six meets to do that."
The Knights had a rough outing on the beam in Piscataway on Feb. 4, as the squad registered several falls in the home tri-meet. At Yale, Rutgers only had one fall — a stark improvement. Chollet-Norton largely credits her team's attitude for the turnaround.
"We did shorter warm-ups and we gave them the day off, but I think they were just very upset with themselves," Chollet-Norton said. "Knowing they didn't perform the way they know they can bothered them."
The key to performing well in any event is often initial success, Chollet-Norton said. When the first athlete falls, it can often create a snowball effect throughout the lineup.
"The team can get on a roll when the first girl gets it," Chollet-Norton said.
While she recognizes the value of starting strong in any given event, Chollet-Norton is aware that falls are inevitably going to happen. Consequently, the head coach prepares her athletes for the possibility of starting an event with a fall.
"Each person can control their destiny," Chollet-Norton said. "Just because the first person falls doesn't mean the event is lost."
The greatest strength of the team all season has been floor exercises and Feb. 6 against Yale was no different. The Knights earned the top five scores overall in floor exercises, and Chollet-Norton is becoming increasingly aware of just how much talent she has for floor.
"Our floor at Yale was just outstanding," Chollet-Norton said. "I can't say that one girl is really better than the other at this point."
Despite being fully focused on SUNY Cortland, Chollet-Norton recognizes the long-term implications of every competition.
"We really need to start breaking 192 with regularity," Chollet-Norton said. "We have a really tough schedule coming up and we have to be ready."