July 20, 2019 | 83° F

Improvement remains focus for meet

Photo by Jovelle Tamayo |

Junior Danielle D’Elia and the Knights take on a pair of programs this weekend, when they unveil a renewed team emphasis at home.

For the past two meets, the Rutgers gymnastics team made a habit of either tying or surpassing personal-best scores.

And while the Scarlet Knights gained their first wins of the season two weeks ago, a quad meet in Pittsburgh last Saturday proved it takes more to earn wins over the long haul. Despite many Knights racking up personal bests, a poor performance on the uneven bars landed Rutgers in third place overall.

As the Knights enter a tri-meet tomorrow against Cortland and Brown, head coach Louis Levine and the team think they found the solution: Do not focus on the individual, but bring the team together.

“I think that what was wrong on bars [at Pittsburgh] was really just our practicing,” said junior Danielle D’Elia. “Our biggest problem is that we need to practice bars either a little harder or more as a team, which is something Lou has been trying to do in the past few days. Within the last few days, we have done a lot of group work together on the bars to help us get to the 48.000 that we need.”

The Knights point to the beam routine as proof their team-oriented approach to practice will help smooth out their problems. They struggled on the beam early in the season, but now it is consistently one of their strong points. Since the team’s first outing, Rutgers landed all six of its beam routines in all but one meet.

“In the beginning of the year we were struggling on beam, but we started working together and we have finally come along on beam,” D’Elia said. “In the past few meets it has actually been one of our stronger events. I think that if we keep doing group work on the bars within the next few meets, it is going to click, and it will go from a 46.000 from a 48.000, which is exactly what we need.”

The Knights hope they see familiar things from last week in the other three events of the day. Sophomore Alexis Gunzelman, who notched her second all-around title in a row at Pittsburgh, recorded career-high scores on the vault and beam. D’Elia paced the Knights on the floor even with a score of 9.800.

Rutgers’ score of 48.525 on the balance beam was a season-best. Its 48.675 score on the vault tied for the third-best score in program history.

But the Knights know they need to even out their bar routine if they want to move from third to first this weekend on the podium.

“We definitely have some really good things going on with vault, beam and floor,” D’Elia said.

“Our biggest struggle obviously is bars, and we are working on that.”

The Knights have the added benefit of competing in the familiar confines of the Livingston Recreation Center. Rutgers hopes to keep its home streak alive.

“It is definitely a good thing that it is a home meet. It is good because last week we did so well, so that now at a home meet this is a good base for us as far as confidence level goes,” D’Elia said. “Since we are at home, we will be on our own equipment, and it will be our crowd and people we know. I think that will help us to do even better than we did last time.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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