July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Rutgers begins to regain confidence

According to the Rutgers gymnastics team, the main problem during its three-meet losing skid to begin the season was its confidence.

As the Scarlet Knights travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow for a quad meet, they have an even record at 3-3 after taking first place last weekend in another quad meet.

And, most importantly, their confidence is back.

“[This week] in practice we actually went 8-for-8 for in bars. I think being able to do stuff like that will really help us going into Pittsburgh being confident in the routines we put up,” said sophomore Alexis Gunzelman. “Being able to continue practicing and hitting our routines is really going to help us know that we can go in the events and hit what we have to, and if we hit it we will get the scores that we need. Hopefully we will be able to win this weekend.”

Now entering their second quad meet in a row at Pittsburgh against the host, George Washington, and William & Mary, the Knights need all the confidence they can get.

But following the highs of the first wins of the season, head coach Louis Levine is not worried about the mindset of his team.

“Every time you win you feel it. It is a much better feeling than when you lose obviously,” Levine said. “You get that hunger for winning, and it helps drive you in practice day in and day out.”

The road back to the confident squad of last year started after a narrow defeat to Pennsylvania two weeks ago by only .050 of a point. More than anything, the loss put things into perspective for the Knights.

“I think after losing to UPenn it hurt, because we could have beaten them. A coach said we left the door open, and we made it easy for them to beat us,” said junior Danielle D’Elia. “It was sort of like a reality check, and we came back and worked hard and made changes. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we lost — that stinks.’ It was kind of like we lost because of what we did. It was more of a pride thing.”

The Knights used the UPenn matchup as fuel entering last weekend’s quad meet at home. They secured the top spot with a season-high score of 192.075 to even their record with the first wins of the season.

There was a lot to take away from the quad meet other than wins, D’Elia said.

“Honestly, getting the three wins is always something that helps your confidence and helps us realize we can win as a team and we can come together,” she said. “We didn’t just win — we had our highest score of the season. It helped us realize that all of us can make a difference. It comes down to realizing that as a team it is possible, and with all the hard work it will pay off in the end.”

Adding to the Knights’ confidence is the fact they recorded their season-high score without key components of their team, most notably sophomore Luisa Leal.

Leal paced the Knights for the first two meets of the season, when she took home the all-around title both weeks. The sophomore has not competed since.

“We’re still missing people. We did not have everyone we could have used,” D’Elia said. “To realize that we did what we did with what we had was an eye-opener and makes you realize you can come together as a team and we can make it happen. It’s just we have to believe that.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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