September 24, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers posts one of season's best scores

Photo by Jeffrey Lazaro |

Sophomore Danielle D'Elia ranks third on the'Scarlet Knights in the floor exercise with an average score of 9.754.

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.

Josh Glatt

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