February 20, 2019 | 27° F

RU faces final tri-meet prior to postseason action

With the postseason approaching, the Rutgers gymnastics team has one last opportunity to boost its season average. The Scarlet Knights travel to Maryland tomorrow to compete in a tri-meet against Towson and Yale in their season finale.

Following two consecutive performances when the team posted season-high scores, the Knights are tasked with improving upon their success.

Head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton believes her team is talented enough to even improve upon its recent score of 194.350 — the third highest in school history.

"We want to maintain, but I think we can be a few tenths higher on beam and I think we can be sharper on vault," Chollet-Norton said. "We could try to stick our landings on floor a bit more. I truly believe we can be a high 194, 195 team."

While the Knights avoided big mistakes like falls on beam, the focus shifted to small alterations that can improve their scores by small fractions. In a sport that regards a one- or two-point victory as a decent margin, fractions of points can make all the difference.

"We had some wobbles on beam that we can do without and some mistakes on beam that we need to fix," said freshman Alexis Gunzelman. "We can't keep giving away fractions of points because they all add up."

One of the keys to the recent success is the steady development of the strong freshman class of Gunzelman, Luisa Leal-Restrepo and Alyssa Straub. As the season winds down, the freshman class worked to attain a prominent role on the team.

"I have become a much more consistent gymnast over the season," Gunzelman said. "I have just developed more confidence and know what I can do in competition."

While her team did not suffer any significant injuries in a sport as physically taxing as gymnastics, it is important for a coach to maintain a concern for health at all times.

With the Eastern Atlantic Gymnastics League Championships coming up, Chollet-Norton has made sure her team does not suffer any late injuries.

"We have to keep everyone fresh and healthy," Chollet-Norton said. "I'm giving [Leal-Restrepo] off on Monday. We are going to take it a bit lighter on everyone."

Sophomore Jenna Zito recently returned from a foot injury after missing two meets. She returned at the home finale and reported no ill effects afterward.

She is aware of how important it is to stay healthy at the end of the season.

"I think we need to keep our energy up and stay confident in our skills," Zito said.

While remaining healthy is important, maintaining sharp skills is essential, as well. Senior Leigh Heinbaugh knows that her team will keep working hard even as the season begins to wind down.

"This is a great team to be on. Everyone works hard and no one needs to be pushed," Heinbaugh said. "We just need to keep getting better and better."

Josh Glatt

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