July 18, 2019 | 74° F

Trials on bars continue prior to EAGL?Champs

Photo by Lianne Ng |

Junior Jenna Zito performs in the floor exercise Feb. 25 in a quad meet at the Livingston Recreation Center. Zito led the Knights on Friday with a score of 48.750 in a tri-meet at William &?Mary, where Rutgers finished in second overall. The Knights next compete in the EAGL?Championships this weekend in Pittsburgh.

The Rutgers gymnastics team came to its last two stops on the road to the EAGL Championships during spring break.

Its latest, a tri-meet inside Kaplan Arena at the College of William & Mary, yielded a second-place finish for the Scarlet Knights against the host team.

The Knights’ rotation of uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault provided them with a look into the future for the same rotation they will have at the EAGL’s.

If the William & Mary meet is any indication, the most glaring problem for Rutgers entering this weekend’s championships is the event it will begin with.

“Unfortunately, we struggled on bars again. We have to fix it. This is the last week for us to fix it,” said head coach Louis Levine. “We have to take advantage of the three days we have this week, and the one day out at Pittsburgh. Hopefully we can come through — we have the potential to be great on bars.”

The Knights’ total score of 47.375 on bars suffered with falls and missed routines. Junior Danielle D’Elia, who scored highest on bars with a score of 9.700, was well aware of the start Rutgers endured on the uneven bars.

“We started off the meet slow. We started off on bars and it was a little rough,” D’Elia said. “We had a few people who fell or did not do the best routines they could do.”

If the bars in the first rotation gave the Knights something to work on entering the conference championships, their next three events gave them confidence.

For D’Elia, competing at William & Mary in the all-around for the fourth time this season, Rutgers’ recovery from the shaky bar performance began with its 47.925 effort on balance beam.

“All the first five girls hit and it was really good, and that is when we started to really pick up our pace,” she said.

After the beam event, the Knights moved on to the event that has been their strongest all season: the floor exercise. Junior Jenna Zito led the team to a meet-best 48.750 score.

“We finished really strong, which I was very happy about,” D’Elia said. “It is always good to end on a stronger note — especially when you start off slow.”

One week before the William & Mary tri-meet, Rutgers went through the emotions of the last home meet of the year and the last of its seniors’ careers.

For Levine, who started on the Banks as an assistant coach the same year the seniors arrived as rookies, watching the team compete was also parting with a sense of familiarity.

“These girls came in the same time that I came in as an assistant coach. They have been here throughout my entire career here,” Levine said. “It was emotional saying goodbye to them, but exciting to see them compete and enjoy their last home meet.”

Emotions aside, the Knights once again struggled on the uneven bars in their last home meet of the season. Bars was the only event in which Rutgers failed to score at least 48.000.

The event is the biggest detriment to Levine’s team operating at full capacity entering its’ pivotal championship weekend, he said.

“We just have to put it all together. We have been getting better and better in practice,” Levine said. “For some it has been showing through in practice and for others it has not been, so we just have to keep pushing.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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