April 22, 2019 | 52° F

Rutgers flourishes on floor

Photo by Lianne Ng |

After the Rutgers gymnastics team’s home opener Jan. 12, when it barely notched a 48.000 overall score on floor exercise, it appeared as though some of the Scarlet Knights may have lost a step as performers.

Through two meets, floor exercise was statistically the Knights’ second-worst event. Head coach Louis Levine stressed the team could not continue leaving points on the floor if it expected success going forward.

The Knights have apparently received the message.

As evidenced by its last two meets, Rutgers has quickly rediscovered its knack for historically performing well on the floor. During that time frame, the Knights are averaging a team score of 48.725 on floor exercise, by far their best event of late.

As a core event that helped the Knights achieve their highest score at the EAGL Championships in program history last season, Rutgers made regaining its confidence on the floor a point of emphasis.

“I think a lot of it now is that everyone knows they can hit their routines, so I think it’s less about going into the floor routine and being like ‘Alright, well am I going to stand up my passes or not?’” said junior co-captain Alexis Gunzelman. “I think everyone knows that they are capable of doing their passes, so it’s more about finding the landings, working on the dance and showing off the routines that we know we’re capable of doing. And I think that’s why floor has excelled in the past few weeks. So hopefully we can keep on building on that.”

Senior Danielle D’Elia has led the team on floor as the only Knight to eclipse 9.800 score performances in back-to-back meets.

She said it is an event that Rutgers strongly enjoys performing.

“With our team, if you watch us, everyone has a lot of fun in the event,” D’Elia said. “That is something that is in our benefit and helps us, because if you’re having fun while doing it, it’s going to be that much better.”

At Penn State on Saturday, the team’s season-high floor exercise score of 48.850 put them in prime position to upset EAGL foe No. 22 Pittsburgh.

But a season-worst score of 47.825 on balance beam to end the meet crushed any hope of that.

“There’s been a little bit of holding back on beam. I think it’s something we’ve just got to keep working on,” Levine said Saturday. “We’ll keep pushing and working on perfecting it. It was a box of little mistakes. There weren’t a whole lot of major mistakes — but little mistakes — and that’s what cost us.”

For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow Greg Johnson on Twitter @GJohnsonTargum.

By Greg Johnson

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