Sophomore inches closer to perfection in floor routine
When sophomore gymnast Alexis Gunzelman took to the mat for the floor event Saturday, she did so among a passionate home crowd and in an event the Rutgers gymnastics team struggled in for weeks.
But her mind was not on the crowd or the past — it was simply on the routine. After all, it was one that she tried to master for months.
When all was said and done, a score of 9.825 — tied for her career high — from the judges proved to Gunzelman at last she came close to perfection.
“I’ve been trying to perfect this routine since mid-November, so I think that finally everything sort of came together. I hit my landings perfectly and the score was there,” Gunzelman said. “I presented to the crowd and the judges, and they liked what they saw. They gave me the score I think I and they thought I deserved.”
Gunzelman’s determination to master her routine is an indication of the kind of character she possesses. The floor event was only one part of a busy day for the sophomore, as she competed in the all-around in all four meets of the quad meet.
She was the only athlete performing as an all-around gymnast that day. While some may have buckled under the pressure, Gunzelman responded with a career-high score of 38.925.
“I think we just want to put the best routines up that we have, and those people are the ones who are going to compete,” Gunzelman said. “In practice I work hard and I do what I’m told, and I’m lucky I have those routines that qualify me to go in as an all-arounder.”
Gunzelman later reconsidered using the word “luck” to describe the reason she was chosen to perform in the all-around, and with good reason. In only her second year on the Banks, She prides herself on performing in practice the same way she does during meets.
According to Gunzelman, it is the effort in practice — not luck — that allows her to compete at such a high level.
“I don’t think lucky is really the way to describe it,” she said. “I think you get out what you put in. I’m happy where I am competing in the all-around.”
Gunzelman’s teammate, junior Danielle D’Elia, is a relative newcomer to the world of competing as an all-arounder. Adding the vault to her repertoire for her junior campaign, D’Elia competed for the Scarlet Knights in all four events for the first time in Rutgers’ season opener against New Hampshire. She ended the day with a score of 37.875
D’Elia raised that score two weeks later in Pennsylvania to a career-high 38.800 and took first place in the all-around.
Similar to Gunzelman, D’Elia continues to slowly perfect her routines over the course of time.
“The fact is that these are routines that I have already been doing. It comes down to perfection,” D’Elia said. “In the end, all the gymnasts have pretty much the same skills — everyone is just as good as each other. It comes down to the little things. There is always room for improvement.”
In regard to her 38.800 score at Penn, D’Elia knows it is a score in the very early stages of her time competing in the all-around. To her it is one she knows she can surpass one day.
That is where Gunzelman and D’Elia share the same mindset. They do not compete in the all-around because of luck or because they are superior to their teammates.
It is because they strive to perfect their craft.
“There were a lot of highlights that got me the 38.800, but at the same time there were a lot of things I could have done to improve,” D’Elia said. “These are routines I more or less was doing last year, so now to become better it comes down to nitpicking at the things you don’t do right — things that if you did you know you would be at the 9.8 or 9.85.”