Rutgers focuses on details of uneven bars event


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Photo by Edwin Gano |

Charly Santagado has been the only freshman consistently in Rutgers’ bars lineup, competing in all 12 meets this season.


The uneven bars require consistency and precision.

Each swing over the bar must stop in a handstand, and each release skill requires catching the bar in exactly the right place and at the right time.

There are two release skills required and a gymnast must transition between the high and low bar at least once in her routine.

But, like the balance beam, it is difficult to save a skill if it goes off by even the slightest margin.

“If you’re just a tiny bit off, there’s a really good chance you’re going to come off the bar,” said freshman Charly Santagado. “Especially on release moves, you have to let go at exactly the same time so that you catch the bar, or else everything is kind of messed up.”

Santagado has been the only freshman consistently in the bars lineup and has appeared on the event in all 12 meets this season. She says that her double layout dismount is the most challenging because she only started competing it part way through the season.

Assistant coach Umme Salim-Beasley primarily coaches the uneven bars for the Rutgers gymnastics team and said that upgrading Santagado’s dismount was one of several things that the two focused on this season.

“What she really focused on this year was being clean and being consistent,” Salim-Beasley said. “She’s got beautiful lines and the judges love the look of her routine because she very clean. We’ve really focused on that and just … making sure she hits her release move every single time and her transition from the high bar to the low bar.”

Salim-Beasley was named EAGL Assistant Coach of the Year after helping the Scarlet Knights to a regional qualifying score of 48.885.

Control and timing are integral elements of both competing and staying on the apparatus.

“I really like to tell the girls that we want to have controlled aggressiveness,” Salim-Beasley said. “It’s not changing what we do in practice and to feel their swing. That’s one thing I really remind them of is feeling the timing of their swing. Bars is an event [that’s] all timing. If your timing is a little fast or a little slow, it’s going to make a big difference on when you catch the bar or if you catch the bar at all. I always remind them before they go to be patient and to control their swing.”

Junior Emma Hoffman, who missed time earlier in the season with an injury, was adamant about not coming off the bar.

“I won’t get off the bar unless I have to. I’ll make up my own routine and keep going and hope that it works out,” Hoffman said. “If something were to happen, you just have to get yourself together and know that your teammates are behind you no matter what. You try your best and life goes on. Breathe and get back on the bar and do the best second half of the routine that you can to get a good score in case we need it.”

The Union, N.J., native set a career high on Jan. 24 against Brown when she scored a 9.850 and earned EAGL Specialist of the Week honors on Jan. 28 for her performance.

Salim-Beasley knows that Hoffman has been a consistent performer she can count on in her lineup.

“Emma’s been our rock this year. She’s hit every single one of her routines,” Salim-Beasley said. “I have complete confidence in her every single time she gets up there. I know that no matter how her warm up goes — and she’s had some shaky warm ups at meets — that she’s going to go up there and hit her routine and show it off.”

The consistency on bars — the Knights have scored below a 48.000 in just two meets this season — has been built up through the competition in the gym each day for the six spots on a meet roster.

 “There’s still a battle in the gym every day for who wants those six spots, and that helps,” said head coach Louis Levine. “When you have just six people, they can get a little complacent, but when you have a seventh, eighth and even a ninth person pushing them, that helps to build the consistency and the level of the whole team.”

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By Lauren Green

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