April 23, 2019 | 61° F

Rutgers?rookie adapts to new event

Photo by Lianne Ng |

Freshmen Anastasia Halbig, and Sara Skammer perform on the beam and bars, respectively, Saturday in a quad meet.

For the Rutgers gymnastics team last season, the incoming freshmen turned out to be some of the greatest assets en route to the most wins in program history. Current sophomores Luisa Leal and 2012 all-around leader Alexis Gunzelman came into their own last year, breaking many records, some of which they set themselves.

The Scarlet Knights lineup boasts two newcomers: freshmen Anastasia Halbig and Sara Skammer. The new additions to the lineup are opposites in personality, but they still bring their particular skills to the Knights’ routines every week.

Skammer, the more outspoken freshman, is more suited to her place on the floor exercise, during which she gets the chance to perform and excel this season.

Halbig, the more soft-spoken of the two, has made her largest contributions on the balance beam, where concentration is the key to success.

But Halbig did not start on the beam during her career at Rutgers.

The Gwynedd Mercy Academy (Pa.) product’s year started slowly. She did not compete in the Knights’ season opener at home against New Hampshire, and her performance on the bars in Rutgers’ next meet against West Virginia earned her a last-place finish.

Head coach Louis Levine decided the freshman needed a change. A week after competing in West Virginia against Pennsylvania, Halbig competed for the first time in her career on the balance beam. Her score of 9.700 was good enough for a tie for second place.

Levine began to see the possibilities for the rest of the season.

“Anastasia finally got into the beam lineup because she has been sick, and we had not been able to use her. She really showed us what we have always seen from her in practice,” Levine said following the meet in January. “She did a really good job on beam. She looked really good out there for her first time.”

Ever since the UPenn meet, Halbig has been a consistent part of both the Knights’ bars and beam routines.

In the Knights’ most recent outing — a third-place finish in a quad meet against Air Force, Bridgeport and Eastern Michigan — Halbig was the top contributor with a season-high beam score of 48.325. The freshman’s career-high 9.875 was good enough for a first-place finish.

“Individually [in the quad meet] I made some mistakes on bars, but I did a lot better on beam,” Halbig said. “It felt really good to take first on beam. It is always good to make your routine.”

Halbig only hoped to make it into the lineup when she arrived on the Banks so she could have a chance to compete at meets.

Halbig’s teammates are there to make the process easier. The freshman cites the team as her favorite aspect of the Rutgers atmosphere.

“It feels great to compete. To make lineup is very exciting,” Halbig said. “I love it here. Our team is like a family. It is really nice to come here every day.”

Now that she found herself a spot in the lineup in her rookie year, Halbig strives to keep that position.

“I come in here and try and do my best every day, so it goes into the meets,” Halbig said. “The goal is to just practice like you compete.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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