RU escapes with home win despite beam woes
In its poorest outing to date, the No. 18 Rutgers gymnastics team snuck a win out to continue its perfect season.
An uncharacteristically weak performance on the balance beam led to a team score of 193.025 to Brown University’s 190.625. The Scarlet Knights (6-0) came short of a 195 score for the first time this season.
“You can’t struggle as bad as we did on beam and expect to put up a 195,” said head coach Louis Levine. “Really it comes down to that one event. We hit beam, and we’re still at 195. We don’t hit beam, and that’s what happens.”
In their third event, the Knights scored a 46.85 on the beam. Senior Alexis Gunzelman led the team with a 9.725, but no other gymnast earned higher than a 9.525.
“It was just an off day. Beam is maybe our best event this year, definitely one of them,” Levine said. “Unfortunately, mentally we got a bit out of whack on beam and weren’t able to come back from it, but we’ll work on it this week.”
In the same rotation, the Bears scored a 48.150 on the floor to bring the team score within less than a point entering the final event.
“After beam, we knew we had to pick it up. But floor is one of our best events, so we just wanted to go out there and have fun,” said junior Anastasia Halbig.
The Knights earned a team-high 48.925 in the event, with the Bears tallying a 47.475 on the beam.
Junior Luisa Leal led Rutgers with a meet-high 9.925, while Gunzelman received a 9.85.
“We need good scores,” Gunzelman said. “We’re going to bounce back from it and still going to come out strong and people are going to be surprised.”
Leal tumbled forward upon landing on the uneven bars, earning a 9.3.
Halbig and junior Emma Hoffman reached career highs in the event, with a 9.8 and 9.85, respectively. Gunzelman also reached the 9.8 mark.
“Falls happen and I think that no matter who it is, we need to be able to go there and pick up what our team misses,” Gunzelman said. “We’re a team here and this is a unit. We need to be able to focus on that and we need to be able to recover for everybody.”
Gunzelman finished with the top all-around score of the meet at a season-high 39.175. It was the first time this season she scored better overall than co-captain Leal, who earned a 38.625.
The Knights wore black uniforms in front of a loud crowd at the Livingston Recreation Gym.
They beat New Hampshire in their home opener, but this was the first home meet with students on campus.
“It’s always really fun competing in front of your crowd,” Gunzelman said. “They’re always behind you, always cheering for you. We have a team of 18 girls, but when we have the home crowd it’s almost like we have a team of a thousand more people.”
Athletic Director Julie Hermann attended the match and acknowledged the team’s performance this season.
“They’re making Rutgers incredibly proud being nationally ranked, and they’re setting a tone for the whole [athletic] department,” Hermann said.
For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.