March 20, 2019 | 29° F

Knights aim to sustain high-level performances

Photo by Nisha Datt |

Sophomore Luisa?Leal recorded a 9.825 score on the balance beam, as did senior Emma-Rose Trentacosti and freshman Jenna Williams in Saturday’s quad meet at the Livingston Recreation Center. Rutgers’ score of 48.850 on the beam was the third best in school history.

Now that the Rutgers gymnastics team has hit the 195.000 score mark it sought all season, the biggest question mark becomes how the Scarlet Knights sustain the success and prove it was not a fluke.

The Knights rode their home crowd to their best performance of the season Saturday, but now they return to the road for three weeks.

Rutgers does not have the luxury of competing inside the Livingston Recreation Center again until March 2, and the possible impact cautions the Knights.

“We just have to remember what mindset we were in when we were in that moment,” said senior Danielle D’Elia.

D’Elia said the future bodes well if the Knights continue beating their scores every week and not settling for what they achieved the previous week.

Improved confidence has been a key to improvement all season, but before Saturday, the Knights had no proof of what their talent could produce.

They now have a tangible blueprint for hovering around a 195.000.

“It was a barrier. You know you have that glass ceiling that we had to break through, and we broke through it,” said head coach Louis Levine. “And so hopefully that leads to the confidence that we need, and [we] can carry that confidence through in the meets on the road.”

Now that barrier has been elevated.

Levine finally found a lineup producing at a high level, but he said he could implement minor changes moving forward.

“You don’t want to mess with a good thing, but at the same time, hopefully 195.000 is only the start of where we want to be going and not the pinnacle of where we’re going,” Levine said.

Rutgers also believes its fifth meet served as a culmination of the hard work it has put in all season.

The Knights feel they have no reason to believe their production will go backward.

“I think it’s just that everyone has been working really hard in the gym every single day, and it’s paying off,” D’Elia said. “We’re competing more and everyone’s getting a lot more comfortable, and it’s just all finally coming together.”

Junior Luisa Leal said Rutgers’ loss Jan. 26 at Penn State served as a crucial turning point for the team.

The disappointment of failure has since fueled the Knights and brought them even closer, she said.

“I think we’re going to stay in that [195.000] range or even get better,” Leal said. “The hard part is getting it for the first time, but after you’re there, then you know you’re capable of doing that. Now we have the confidence, we know we can get those scores and we know it wasn’t just luck.”

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

By Greg Johnson

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