June 16, 2019 | 69° F

Decimal-point difference dooms RU?in defeat

Photo by The Daily Targum |

Head coach Louis Levine sat star sophomore Luisa Leal in the Scarlet Knights’ narrow defeat Friday at UPenn. Junior Danielle D’Elia, right, enjoyed a career day in Leal’s absence, capturing the all-around title with a career-high score of 38.800 and registering a career high on the vault with a score of 9.700.

Traveling for its second meet in as many weeks, the Rutgers gymnastics team looked to capture its first victory of the season against Pennsylvania.

What the Scarlet Knights got instead was their closest defeat yet, falling to the Quakers by a score of 191.975-191.925. The .050 margin of defeat Friday was the narrowest since February of last year, when Bridgeport ousted Rutgers in Piscataway by a margin of .025.

“It was obviously a very close meet. It’s always disappointing to lose,” said head coach Louis Levine. “Whether it is by three points or half a tenth of a point like it was, it is just disappointing. When it is that close apart you know there are so many little things that go into it. The littlest thing could have gone different and you could have won.”

As always, the Knights looked to their improvement as bright spots despite the defeat. Junior Danielle D’Elia had a career day, winning the all-around title with a career-high score of 38.800. The Colts Neck, N.J., native also tallied a career-high on the vault with a score of 9.700, and tied for first in both the floor and uneven bars.

While D’Elia led, the rest of the Knights were not far behind on the floor exercise, taking four of the five top spots in the event. Sophomore Alexis Gunzelman, one of three Rutgers all-arounders at Penn, tied D’Elia for first with a score of 9.750.

The Knights also saw one of their own finish atop the vault podium, with sophomore Alyssa Straub taking first with a score of 9.725.

For the third meet in a row, these achievements did not add up to an overall win.

“We can pull positives out of this meet,” Levine said. “I believe we are getting better each week, but still need to continue to improve on all four events.”

The Knights also continued their streak of success on the beam, landing a perfect six out of six routines for the second straight meet. Rutgers continued its dominance on the beam without top performer sophomore Luisa Leal, who did not compete against Penn.

“We hit six for six on beam again which, obviously, is a really good thing,” Levine said. “Some people stepped up because we did not have Luisa this weekend — she did not compete — but our score still improved.”

Among the performers who rose to the occasion was freshman Anastasia Halbig. The rookie competed for the first time in her career on the beam, ending the event with a score of 9.700, good enough to tie for second place.

“Anastasia finally got into the beam lineup because she has been sick and we had not been able to use her. She really showed us what we have always seen from her in practice,” Levine said. “She did a really good job on both bars and beam. She looked really good out there for her first time.”

Levine looks to the narrow margin of defeat in the Penn matchup as a sign that wins are not far off for the Knights. Now more than ever, the first-year head coach stresses constant improvement, as the little differences that separate Rutgers from winning.

“We are going in the right direction, for sure,” Levine said. “The wins will be there — I know they will. We just need to keep improving every single meet.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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