July 18, 2019 | 74° F

RU?enjoys near-complete performance at Cornell

Photo by Lianne Ng |

Freshman Anastasia Halbig competes Feb. 25 on the beam. She placed first in the event Saturday at Cornell with a score of 9.800.

Entering its quad meet at Cornell on Saturday, the Rutgers gymnastics team had one clear Achilles’ heel in its overall game plan: the uneven bars.

It was only fitting the first rotation of the day at Cornell for the Scarlet Knights saw them facing the event they have struggled in for weeks.

With thoughts of the disappointing performance at the previous meet, the Knights ended the day first on the podium with a season-high 193.175 score, aided by their first-place total of 48.225 points on the uneven bars.

Head coach Louis Levine was adamant that his team improved on its largest weakness and little adjustments will lift it to its full potential.

“We definitely took a step forward,” he said. “It was pretty exciting from beginning to end — everyone was into the meet. We still have some improving to do, I really think this is a team that can score 195.000’s and break some records. We just have to keep pushing forward.”

The Knights saw clearly that, although they took first on bars, it was still far from perfect. Rutgers raised its score substantially thanks to a career-high 9.900 points from junior Danielle D’Elia and a 9.650 from sophomore Alexandria Ivol.

“We definitely still struggled on bars. I wouldn’t say we alleviated all the problems,” said sophomore Alexis Gunzelman. “It was really good that [Ivol] was able to get up there and hit her routine after four people messed up in front of her. It showed that it doesn’t matter what the person in front of you does. If you are confident in your routine you can hit it.”

The Knights also took first on the beam, thanks in large part to a first-place finish by freshman Anastasia Halbig with a score of 9.800. It marked her second consecutive first-place finish in the event.

“Anastasia has a really nice, somewhat different routine from everybody else,” Levine said. “She has just gotten up there and she performs it really well.”

One of the Knights’ biggest difficulties throughout this season has been finishing their meets strong. The second half of the meet — which included a first-place finish on the floor exercise and a solid 48.275 on vault — clinched the top spot overall for the Knights.

To Gunzelman, the complete meet gave the team a much-needed confidence boost to start taking first place more often.

“It is exciting being able to count five good scores. We still had little errors that we can definitely work on this week to make our score even better,” Gunzelman said. “It is really exciting knowing that we have the confidence on all four events to put up the scores we need to win, and that is exactly what we did.”

The Knights’ ability to put together a full performance stands out the most to Levine. While the Knights still need improvements, especially on bars, the problems continue to shrink over time.

The errors are still there, but Levine plans on fixing them.

“We still had some mistakes, but they were smaller mistakes than we have had in the past,” Levine said. “We are going to keep at it, keep trying to eliminate those mistakes and hopefully push bars to potentially be one of our top events.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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