March 23, 2019 | 36° F

Rutgers hosts first home meet

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Senior captain Luisa Leal is eager to perform in front of the home crowd in the second to last meet of the team’s season. Leal has averaged a 9.788 on the vault and a 9.725 on the beam this season. 

The Rutgers gymnastics team hosts its first home meet in the 2015 season on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. in the Livingston Gym against No. 6 Nebraska, Brockport and Southern Connecticut. 

The Scarlet Knights (1-3, 0-2) are coming off an impressive performance, a near upset of No. 9 Illinois last weekend where they scored 48.950 on the balance beam — the sixth-highest score in school history. 

Rutgers performed well at home last season, going 8-1, and set the school team record at 196.225 during their last home meet.

“Part of the lifeboat of our team is the fans,” head coach Louis Levine said. “The nice part about competing at home is the energy we bring and not just what our team brings, but obviously what our fans bring in. The energy really does help … we can’t do it without them.”

Being familiar with an arena and the surroundings inside is important for a gymnast to be successful, so competing at the Livingston Gym should give Rutgers an advantage this weekend.

“Being home is just going to help so much more because we have our crowd,” said senior captain Luisa Leal. “We know our people, we know our events [and] we know the arena, so it’s going to be a lot better.”

The Knights are going to need all of the help and support they can get because three competitive teams will be coming to Piscataway. 

Senior Stephanie Schuler leads Brockport (2-0) into the meet. A 2014 All-American, Schuler was named East Region Specialist of the Week after leading her team to victories against Cortland and Springfield.

Southern Connecticut State posted a season-high score of 189.850 last weekend in its home opener against Brown, Bridgeport and Rhode Island. Four members of the team have already won Eastern College Athletic Conference Honors this season.

No. 6 Nebraska (2-0, 1-0) beat No. 13 Penn State last Saturday by a score of 197.125-196.025. The Cornhuskers average 196.212 points per meet this season, which is the second-highest in the Big Ten. 

In order to get the win this upcoming weekend, the Knights placed emphasis on polishing their routines.

“We’re all very optimistic and we all learn from our mistakes,” said senior captain Emma Hoffman. “It’s going to help us in the future to keep moving forward. If we mess up on the first event, we’re not going to crumble on the next two. We’re going to work hard and make sure we get the job done from there.”

It’s crucial for Rutgers to find a way to put up the highest score possible to win the meet. Nebraska has been a scoring machine this season, posting over 195 points in each meet so far.

“We’ve got to hit 24 out of our 24 routines, and that’s going to be the key here,” Levine said. “If we want the chance to be competitive with a team like Nebraska … we’ve got to bring our A game … and leave it all out there on the floor.”

For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter

Evan Bruno

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