Rutgers fails to stay on beam, falls on road at No. 22 Ohio State
The Rutgers gymnastics team suffered yet another heartbreaking loss against No. 22 Ohio State on Sunday at St. John’s Arena.
The Scarlet Knights (5-6, 0-4) posted a decent score of 193.800, but the total was not high enough to upset the Buckeyes’ 194.875.
What makes the loss even tougher to handle is that the Knights held the lead entering the final event.
Entering the balance beam, Rutgers was right there in its fight with Ohio State. With a solid performance to close out the meet’s final event, the Knights could have picked up their first Big Ten win in program history.
But when the big stage presented itself, Rutgers slipped up.
Senior captain Luisa Leal (9.300), junior Jenna Williams (9.200) and senior Anastasia Halbig (9.025) all fell off the beam, and Rutgers faltered with a low score of 47.800 in the event.
Ohio State (5-2, 2-2) then took advantage of the error.
“Three girls fell off the beam,” said head coach Louis Levine. “You don’t score well when you don’t stay on an event. It’s just a simple part about it. If we didn’t mess up on beam, we probably would’ve beaten [Ohio State].”
No one on the team could explain how or why three gymnasts fell off the beam, as it is something that rarely occurs in gymnastics.
Still without a Big Ten win under their belts, the gymnasts admitted that the pressure on the big stage may have crept in.
“We still haven’t had a meet where we know we’re winning and we feel that we’re going to win,” said Leal. “We kind of tend to get scared a little bit and the pressure gets us. That’s what we have to work on.”
Despite the errors, Rutgers did post some competitive scores on beam.
For the second consecutive meet, sophomore Claire Jones scored 9.800. To complement Jones’, junior Claudia Salinas (9.775) and freshman Elizabeth Groden (9.725) both posted improved scores in the event.
Rutgers put up a 48.475 on the uneven bars to begin the meet. All six gymnasts who competed in the event posted scores of 9.600 or higher. Williams (9.775) and sophomore Charly Santagado (9.750) led the Knights in scoring on beam.
On the vault, Rutgers manufactured a team score of 48.675. Sophomore April Baker led the way, tying a season-high mark of 9.825 in the event. Meanwhile, freshman Sahara Gipson scored a 9.750 and Williams followed up by adding a 9.775.
The Knights continued their consistency on the floor exercise, posting a score of 48.850. Jones and senior captain Emma Hoffman led their squad in the rotation by both posting scores of 9.775. Gipson added a 9.750, and Santagado contributed a 9.725.
Despite the continuity in conference losses, Williams believes her team is close.
“We have to be able to finish the meets out,” Williams said. “We’re confident in ourselves in practice. We have to be able to translate that into competition to finish out the meet. I can’t explain what happened. It could be a lack of focus or a lack of confidence. It’s just hard to say.”
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