Co-captain refuses to be complacent


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Photo by Marielle Sumergido |

Senior Alexis Gunzelman has been a consistent starter for the past four years. She is performing all-around this season.


Many athletes are elated following a career performance in front of a home crowd, especially when their team came out with a win.

Following the Rutgers gymnastics team’s win Friday against Brown, senior Alexis Gunzelman was not.

“She obviously had a great meet, but it’s more than just one person,” said head coach Louis Levine yesterday. “I asked her how she felt after the meet and she said, ‘I’m disappointed because the team didn’t do well.’”

The Scarlet Knights won, but their 193.025 team score was well short of their 194.656 season average.

Rutgers now barely clings to a No. 25 ranking, tied with Kent State. The Knights defeated Kent State on the road Jan. 17 with their fourth-best score in school history.

Gunzelman reached a season-high 39.175 all-around score Friday with season highs on the vault (9.8) and the floor (9.85), while adding another 9.8 on the bars and a 9.725 on the beam, where the team struggled as a whole.

“Even getting that high of an all-around [score], there are some things I need to focus on. I can get even higher scores to benefit the team,” Gunzelman said yesterday.

Her career-high all-around score of 39.225 came last March.

“She’s solid in every event. She has the ability to put up huge scores on every event. For that matter, that 9.8, 9.9 range on every event,” Levine said. “She’s obviously one of our all-arounders this year and doing a good job, and that’s two-thirds of our lineup.”

For the second straight season, the Tabernacle, N.J., native was named one of the team’s captains, along with junior Luisa Leal and senior Jenna Zito.

“I was thrilled that the team looks to me as a captain both on and off the competition floor,” Gunzelman said. “I think that I’ve learned a lot from my position as captain last year, and the things that I want to implement this year and things that I don’t want to implement.”

Aside from wanting to stay in state, Gunzelman chose Rutgers because the program is on the rise — analogous to her own personal rise.

“I wanted to come to a program that was building, a team that I can compete for all four of my years, and I think that I picked the perfect school because I keep progressing in my gymnastics and I don’t think I’ve ever plateaued in it,” she said. “I think I can get better, and the coaching staff has always been working with me and helping me get to that next level.”

In her three previous years in Piscataway, Gunzelman earned the team’s Most Valuable Gymnast award in 2011 and 2012. She earned EAGL First Team All-Uneven Bars honors last year, along with the EAGL First Team All-Around and Second Team All-Floor Exercise and Uneven Bars in 2012.

Levine said the Brown meet could end up being the most important meet this season, and the co-captain is still not satisfied.

“We’re going to bounce back from it and still going to come out strong, and people are going to be surprised,” Gunzelman said.

For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow Justin Lesko on Twitter @JLeskoRU.  For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.


By Justin Lesko

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