Rutgers continues home success in meet victory
For the Rutgers gymnastics team, the advantage of playing at home this season has been a luxury.
The Scarlet Knights bested both Cortland and Brown to take first place at the Livingston Recreation Center on Saturday to improve their record to 6-5 and give first-year head coach Louis Levine a 5-1 record at home.
“It is always great to win. What we are stressing now is to keep improving,” Levine said. “As long as we keep improving week to week, I’m happy. We have a great team here. We just need to continue making those improvements.”
Sophomore Alexis Gunzelman took the all-around title for the third meet in a row with an overall score of 38.750. Gunzelman dominated the competition in three of four events of the day.
The Tabernacle, N.J., native took first on the vault with a career-high-tying score of 9.800, and broke her career highs with wins in both balance beam (9.850) and uneven bars (9.900).
“I have just really started competing like I have been practicing, and I put a lot of effort in at the gym,” Gunzelman said. “I’m really happy that it is starting to show. I could not be more proud.”
A costly fall in the floor exercise, which took place in the final rotation of the day, kept Gunzelman from breaking the one score left, her all-around score.
“I was definitely disappointed after floor. I think I got way ahead of myself,” Gunzelman said. “I knew that if I hit that floor routine I would have beaten my all-around high, and you really cannot think like that. I just have to keep looking forward.”
Despite her performance on floor, Levine knows his top performer for the last three meets will persevere in breaking her own records, like she continues to.
“She got a little bit ahead of herself there on floor,” Levine said of Gunzelman. “She did great in those first three events. I think she had a little bit in her mind how good she was doing at the end there and went a little too hard. She’ll be there. She is going to keep pushing and breaking records week in and week out. She works so hard in the gym and it carries over into the meets.”
Gunzelman was not the only Knight with a successful weekend.
Sophomore Alyssa Straub placed second to Gunzelman in the all-around with a score 38.225. Straub earned a third-place finish on the uneven bars with a score of 9.675.
Junior Jenna Zito tied her career-best score on balance beam with 9.775 and earned a second-place finish in the floor exercise.
Freshman Anastasia Halbig competed in the vault for the first time in her career, setting a mark of 9.525. Her classmate, Sara Skammer, set a new personal best on vault with a score of 9.725.
But like to the individual performance of Gunzelman, the entire team faltered on its last competition of the day — the floor exercise. The Knights came in third place on floor, scoring an overall 48.000.
“We started out really strong. We hit really good vaults, [a] season high on bars. We just struggled a little bit at the end,” Levine said. “We just need to work on starting off strong like we did and carrying it through all the way to the end of the meet. There were still some really positive things.”