December 17, 2018 | ° F

Knights turn in record performance at EAGLs

Photo by Jeffrey Lazaro |

Freshman Luisa Leal-Restrepo, Above, and sophomore Jenna Zito are two of three Scarlet Knights who extended their season by qualifying for the NCAA'Regionals. Both will participate in the all-around competition after averaging a score of 38.68 and 38.228 this season, respectively.

Following a regular season that saw the Rutgers gymnastics team break several school records, including the season wins total, the Scarlet Knights decided to add one more record to the list.

At the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championships, the Knights finished with their highest score ever at the Tournament.

The Knights finished fifth overall in a field of eight with a score of 193.625, besting the previous school record of 192.600 and sixth place. Head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton was proud of her team's performance in the last EAGL Championships of her lengthy Rutgers career.

"It was outstanding. It was truly a team effort," Chollet-Norton said. "We nailed the floor routines and everyone had great vaults. Nicole Romano had the most beautiful floor routine of her life. We had a few mistakes here and there, but we all did a great job. We didn't count a fall at all on any event."

Photo: Jeffrey Lazaro  

While fifth place out of eight might not seem terribly impressive based on the level of competition, the Knights were not only satisfied with their performance, but they exceeded their own expectations.

"We knew we were going to beat George Washington and Pittsburgh, but we had no idea we would beat NC State and we were only about one-tenth behind West Virginia," Chollet-Norton said.

Chollet-Norton talked all year about how she recognized how much better her team became this year compared to the past. At the EAGLs, it was her opposing coaches that took notice of her team's talent.

"NC State was following us and their coach [Mark Stevenson] was really funny," Chollet-Norton said. "He kept talking about how we were a completely different team. He noticed how much we have improved."

The Knights' score at the EAGL Championships was even more impressive considering their season-closing performance at Towson. The Knights finished second with a score of 190.350 at Towson — significantly lower than what they regularly achieved.

While Chollet-Norton acknowledged that a flat performance late in the season is typical for a gymnastics team, she did not want to use it as an excuse.

"The girls came off of two great meets and some of the girls were tired," Chollet-Norton said. "[Freshman] Luisa [Real-Restrepo] had to be pulled because she pinched a nerve, but we just didn't do it that day."

While the meet was a disappointing end to a strong season, Chollet-Norton was more proud of the fact that her team was able to rebound at the EAGLs after ending the season on a sour note.

"We walked into EAGLs and showed everyone who we are," Chollet-Norton said. "I was really proud of all the girls."

While the team's season is over, several Knights will attend NCAA Regionals to compete as individuals. Sophomore Jenna Zito and Leal-Restrepo will compete in all-around, while sophomore Danielle D'Elia qualified in floor exercises.

Josh Glatt

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