Knights fall again on road
Just when it appeared the Rutgers gymnastics team had turned a corner, the Scarlet Knights produced another incomplete performance in a 195.675-193.700 loss Friday at No. 24 Kent State.
The Knights (7-6, 1-2) trailed the Golden Flashes (6-2) by just 0.500 score points after three events, but in the final rotation, Kent State pulled away.
The team tallied only a 47.600 on the balance beam to complete the meet — its lowest total in the event since Jan. 6 in its season opener — while Kent State pulled away with a strong effort on the floor exercise.
“That was the difference in the meet,” said head coach Louis Levine. “We had three good events and then messed up on beam. You can’t put up 195’s with counting falls on beam.”
The Knights have become all too familiar with unfinished business.
Rutgers has failed to post a 48 or higher across the board in four of six meets this season.
The same incompleteness held true in this contest. Levine does not believe performing on the road played a factor in Rutgers’ lack of clutch execution.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with whether we would’ve been home or on the road,” he said. “We just made some mistakes on beam, and obviously that cost us.”
One factor in the regression on beam may have been the absence of freshman Claudia Salinas, a beam specialist who holds a season-high 9.850 in the event this season. Her surprise omission from the lineup was the result of injury.
“She hurt her leg a little bit,” Levine said. “She should be back hopefully next week.”
If there is a silver lining for Rutgers, it is that its overall score was its best on the road this season. It also closely resembled the Knights’ 193.942 score average at home.
But Levine insists the team is solely focused on producing in the 195-and-higher range, regardless of the facilities.
The Knights kicked off the meet eliminating falls on uneven bars from the week before, performing a score of 48.675. Junior co-captain Alexis Gunzelman scored a 9.825 to lead the way and finished in fifth place overall.
Rutgers also scored its second-highest vault total of the season with a 48.700. Freshman Jenna Williams and junior Luisa Leal performed a 9.825 apiece to tie for second place overall.
But floor exercise again best served the Knights.
Senior Danielle D’Elia and freshman Danielle Verdon both performed a 9.775, and every Knight cracked the 9.7 mark as Rutgers finished with a 48.725 overall score.
As Rutgers still searches for its first road win, the task does not figure to get easier any time soon.
The team next travels Sunday to College Park, Md., for a tri meet with two top EAGL foes in No. 17 Maryland and West Virginia.
For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow Greg Johnson on Twitter @GJohnsonTargum.