June 18, 2019 | 75° F

Quad meet offers chance at first win

Mired in the middle of a three-meet losing streak and returning for a quad meet tomorrow at the Livingston Recreation Center, the Rutgers gymnastics team is looking for answers that would help it gain its elusive first win.

For many members of the Scarlet Knights, those answers are in the small details.

“After the last meet we talked about things we can do to improve. We know we can do and land our routines, but now we have to nitpick and pick out the tiniest things,” said junior Danielle D’Elia. “It is just really concentrating on presentation and pointing your toes and straightening your legs and sticking those landings. That can make or break the meet.”

The proof lies in the Knights’ last outing on the road at Pennsylvania. Rutgers dropped the meet to the Quakers by just .050.

D’Elia, who was a part of a Central Michigan team her freshman year that lost a national championship by a mere .025 points, is no stranger to close-call losses of gymnastics.

“Because before I came here I was at Central Michigan, and we did lose the championship title by .025. I know what it is like,” D’Elia said. “Penn was definitely a disappointment, especially since we lost by so little. It is what we always try to express to everyone — that stuff happens, you lose by the .050 and the .025. You think to yourself, ‘If I had just pointed my toe or stuck the landing, we would be winning right now.’”

Other members of the Knights feel the reason the small details are not coming to light for them is the team’s confidence in itself.

“I really think our biggest issue right now is being confident. Especially on bars — we look really shaky when we compete,” said sophomore Alexis Gunzelman. “People need to start practicing the way they want to compete. If they practice with the confidence that they are going to hit every time, then they know they are going to hit it going into competition.”

Still, when the Knights host Southern Connecticut State, Ursinus and Temple tomorrow, they will not do it without some areas of confidence.

For two straight meets, the Knights hit six-of-six performances on the beam. From their season opener at New Hampshire, the team improved its score on the beam 2.2 points in only two meets.

“I loved our beam [at UPenn]. We got our highest beam score, which we can still improve. But we went six-for-six staying on the beam, which was a huge accomplishment,” Gunzelman said. “Our first meet we got a 46 on beam and to go up 2.2 in just two meets, that is just amazing. I hope we can keep pushing and keep getting better on beam.”

As far as the other events go — the ones in which the Knights have not hit a perfect six-of-six — the team knows it is close to perfect.

It hopes to erase the memory of coming .050 points short of a victory at Penn.

“Now it is mostly about how we present ourselves — how we are the best team and have the most confidence,” D’Elia said. “As they say, it’s about having the look.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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