Rutgers posts one of season's best scores
The Rutgers gymnastics team had a successful weekend, finishing with its second highest score of the season in a quad meet at Maryland, but placing third. The Scarlet Knights finished with a score of 192.975 — just behind the winner, No.18 Penn State, and host Maryland.
With only three meets left before the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) championship, head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton realizes that every meet is essential to her team's confidence.
"We know who our top eight are, so we get to focus on working with them," Chollet-Norton said. "We don't want to be the team that is in last place at EAGLs — we want to be on roll and show what we can do."
The Knights were unexpectedly without sophomore all-arounder Jenna Zito due to foot pain during warm-ups. Unlike in previous years, when the Knights did not possess the depth required to make up for an injury, the team now has enough top-level athletes to step in for any injury.
"Even though we didn't have Jenna we have the athletes where there isn't a big drop off with the replacement," Chollet-Norton said.
To add more versatility to the talented roster, Chollet-Norton is working with specialists in hopes of having the team ready to compete in other events at a high level. A team leader and bar specialist, senior Leigh Heinbaugh is prepared to potentially work on vault.
"I am hoping to get Leigh on vault at the next home meet," Chollet-Norton said. "She has looked good in practice, and she could help us there."
With the added depth and talent, Rutgers no longer needs to have a perfect meet to compete with top competition. The Knights suffered several uncharacteristic mistakes during the meet but still managed to put together a strong performance overall.
"We had a couple of out of bounds on floor that we normally don't have and we didn't have our best bar set," Chollet-Norton said. "The program has been on a steady climb with the sophomores and freshmen we brought in. Now we have a team that is good enough that we don't have the pressure on a few girls to be perfect."
While it is a confidence-booster knowing that the team is talented enough to compete with the top schools in the country, it is frustrating for Chollet-Norton to know that a few atypical mistakes meant taking third place.
"We are as strong as Penn State and Maryland on floor, and we just didn't have a perfect meet," Chollet Norton said.
With the Knights competing at home the next two meets, they have a golden opportunity to perfect their fundamentals prior to the postseason.
"We have two meets to get or confidence to an even higher level," Chollet-Norton said.
"The girls are excited to prove that this is our house."
The Knights compete on Saturday at home against Bridgeport and Ursinus in the Scarlet Knights alumni meet.