June 24, 2019 | 72° F

RU?takes third despite personal bests

Photo by Jovelle Tamayo |

Sophomore Alexis Gunzelman recorded a team-high score on bars of 9.700 in the Scarlet Knights third-place finish Saturday in a quad meet in Pittsburgh. Gunzelman took the all-around title with a career-high score of 39.075.

For the second straight meet, the Rutgers gymnastics team tallied personal-best scores and raised its overall team score to 192.500.

But despite the improvements, a shaky outing in the bar routine ultimately placed the Scarlet Knights third Saturday in a quad meet with host-team Pittsburgh, George Washington and William and Mary.

“We struggled on bars today. We win bars, we win the meet, simple as that,” said head coach Louis Levine. “Honestly we go from first place to third place because of what happened on bars. We will keep attacking it in the gym and once we get bars down we will be a tough team to beat.”

The Knights, who have cited confidence issues as the biggest problem in past meets, once again felt they looked intimidated on bars.

“When we got to bars we just looked scared,” said sophomore Alexis Gunzelman, who earned the team-high score on bars with a 9.700. “I know that the team’s going to go into the gym, and that is going to be our main focus because that is what cost us the meet. It is sad, but we know what we have to work on.”

But in the three events other than bars, confidence was not something the Knights lacked.

Gunzelman led the pack for the second week in a row, taking the all-around title with a career-best score of 39.075. The sophomore also surpassed her career-high scores on vault and balance beam, earning a 9.800 in both events.

“I was really excited about my 9.800 on vault. I knew that I came off the table really strong, and I was really happy with it,” Gunzelman said. “I also felt I did really good on beam for the first time this year. I hit everything and the score was there. I just went in really confident in all my routines and when the score flashed I got really excited. I knew that as soon as I landed my dismount that the 39.000 was there. It was amazing.”

The highlight for the Knights came on vault, where they recorded a team score of 48.675 — tied for third best in school history. Sophomore Alyssa Straub gave Rutgers its best finish of the night on vault, tying a career high with a score of 9.825. Junior Jenna Zito was right behind her with a score of 9.800, also tied for a career best.

Junior Danielle D’Elia paced the Knights in the floor event, taking third place with a score of 9.800.

“We did an awesome job on floor and vault,” Gunzelman said. “We went in there, and we knew the second someone stepped on that floor that they were going to hit that routine. That is a great feeling. It really helps and it really shows in the scores.”

But the Knights’ record-setting performances were dragged down by their performance on the uneven bars. As they head toward a quad meet this weekend at home at the Livingston Gym, their goal is even out those imperfections.

“There were a lot of really great things going on [at Pittsburgh]. There were tons of personal best and great steps in the right direction,” Levine said. “Unfortunately we struggled on bars. We just have to step it up in the gym on bars to get to where we want to be.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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