Rutgers still hunts for first Big Ten Conference win


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Photo by Edwin Gano |

Senior Luisa Leal says she is not looking past Maryland regardless of how many meets they have lost. Leal recognizes the need for the team to remain focused for their meet against Maryland Saturday.


The Rutgers gymnastics team hosts Maryland, Ursinus and Cornell in the Livingston Gym on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Scarlet Knights don the pink leotards in support of breast cancer awareness for the team’s annual Pink Meet.

Rutgers (5-6, 0-4 Big Ten) enters off of a loss at then-No. 22 Ohio State, where the team registered a 193.800 score. The Knights were in front of the Buckeyes heading into the final rotation –– the balance beam.

But Rutgers was unable to sustain the lead. Three gymnasts, senior captain Luisa Leal, junior Jenna Williams and senior Anastasia Halbig all fell off of the beam.

Despite the collapse last weekend and the frustration Rutgers has endured all season long, the team has an opportunity to turn it around and regain its confidence.

“Hopefully [a win] will help our confidence,” said head coach Louis Levine. “... Obviously it’s nice [to win] in front of the home crowd. … And we want to go out there and do our best."

Maryland (1-5, 1-3 Big Ten) offers the best shot at a win. The Terrapins lost to then-No. 5 Michigan last Saturday by a score of 197.100-194.575 and have been winless in their last three consecutive meets.

Seniors Ebony Walters and Stephanie Giameo were solid competition for Maryland against the Wolverines. Walters posted a 9.850 on the floor while Giameo put up 9.825 on the uneven bars.

Even though Maryland is going through growing pains in the Big Ten, the Knights cannot afford to overlook the Terps.

“The fact that they [Maryland] are not ranked doesn’t mean that they’re not a good team,” said senior captain Luisa Leal. “They’ve probably been having a rough first half of a season, but Maryland is a good team. … You can never overlook an opponent because you never know what they have in their pocket."

Cornell (6-12) has already competed against both Rutgers and Ursinus this season. The Big Red lost to the Knights and defeated the Bears. Cornell swept the Big Red Invitational on Feb. 7, defeating Brockport State (189.425), Southern Connecticut (187.300) and Ithaca College (183.475).

Big Red’s team score of 190.625 matched a season high mark.

Ursinus College (4-7) finished last in a tri-meet at West Chester University against the Golden Rams. The Bears posted a team score of 190.325 and junior Kristina Steffenhagen set a new school record on her way to first place for vault with a 9.800.

To earn its first conference victory, Rutgers needs to maintain consistency throughout all four events.

Senior captain Emma Hoffman had arguably her best outing on the floor at Ohio State last weekend and looks to maintain the high level of play.

“My floor was definitely the highlight of my personal performance,” Hoffman said. “It finally all came together and everyone just said it was just the best routine that I’ve done — so that makes me happy."

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


Evan Bruno

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