Rutgers gymnasts anticipate demanding weekend
The Rutgers gymnastics team has a busy weekend ahead of itself.
The Scarlet Knights (7-7, 0-6) flies to Raleigh, North Carolina, to compete against North Carolina State, Kent State and North Carolina at 7 p.m. on Friday evening.
Rutgers then takes a near seven-hour bus ride up to Morgantown, West Virginia, for a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. featuring the Mountaineers, Big Ten foe Maryland and No. 25 New Hampshire.
Head coach Louis Levine thinks the lengthy travel can serve as a great opportunity for the team to bond.
“North Carolina is a two-hour plane flight,” Levine said. “We have a day in between (meets) and a trip to Morgantown. Some of the best team bonding goes on the bus so, it’s just another chance for the team to keep getting close. They’ll watch some movies, they’ll sleep so (traveling) is not an issue.”
Rutgers finished ahead of Cornell (192.700) and Ursinus (189.650) last weekend at the team’s annual Pink Meet, but fell to conference rival Maryland (195.375). The Knights posted a 194.450 in the competition, their second-highest team score of the year.
Freshman Elizabeth Groden had an excellent performance. The Pennsylvania native competed all around for the first time in her college career and scored a total of 38.775 points. Fellow freshman Jenna Crisalli set a career-high on floor exercise with a 9.800.
Captain Luisa Leal had a solid performance on vault, scoring a 9.850. The fifth-year senior performed admirably on the balance beam as well with a 9.750 event score.
“Because it’s a two competition weekend, [practice] has to be quality over quantity,” Leal said. “We can’t really do much this week because it’s going to be a hard weekend, so it has to be quality of turns instead of repetition.”
North Carolina State (5-4) defeated William & Mary and George Washington last Saturday with a score of 195.850 for its second-highest team mark this season. Junior Brittni Watkins is arguably the top gymnast, as a top-25 competitor listed at No. 20 on vault and No. 23 in all-around competition.
North Carolina (8-4) fell to No. 8 Georgia in its previous meet, 196.200-195.200. Freshman Morgan Lane won the all around competition by scoring a total of 39.175 points. Kent State (2-5) fell to Central Michigan in their last outing 196.400-195.325.
West Virginia (6-6-1) lost to then-No. 18 Denver 195.425-194.600. The Mountaineers feature two nationally ranked gymnasts with Alexa Goldberg is ranked No. 20 in the uneven bars and has a season average of 9.86. As a team, the Mountaineers rank No. 21 on vault.
No. 25 New Hampshire beat Brown on Monday night and was led by Casey Lauter who set a career high on the uneven bars with a 9.825. Lauter’s efforts boosted her profile and, as a result, was named EAGL Rookie of the Week.
Rutgers gets another opportunity at a Big Ten victory against Maryland on Sunday. The Knights have come within tenths of points from earning their first conference win multiple times in their last few meets.
“I think that we can definitely compete against them [Maryland],” senior captain Emma Hoffman said.
Rutgers must keep emphasizing the point of hitting four out of four events in order to earn its first conference win.
“We can definitely win against them. It’s going to be good to go in there because they’re not worried. They already beat us so it’ll be good for us to go in there and hopefully get a win against them.”
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