August 17, 2019 | 84° F

Rutgers once again outclassed by narrow margin in defeat to Towson

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Senior Claire Jones scored two separate 9.9s against Towson, accomplishing a goal she set when first arriving at Rutgers four years ago.

It was the same story for the Rutgers gymnastics team that visited Towson University this past Friday night. The Scarlet Knights (10-8, 1-4) tallied a score of 194 or higher, now a six-meet streak, but once again, it was not enough to record the victory.

With its first time traveling to Maryland to face the Tigers (7-8), Rutgers hit the 194 mark for the sixth consecutive meet and finished with a 194.275, slightly improving from the past two meets, but still consistent to where it has been scoring during this streak. The Tigers, on the other hand, came out and recorded their best score of the season, and by a decent margin of 195.675.

Despite the fourth meet in a row without recording the top spot, head coach Louis Levine saw plenty of bright spots out of his team on Friday.

“There were numerous great individual performances,” he said.

Of those standout performances was senior Claire Jones, who recorded two 9.900 scores, the first of any Knight this season.

“I didn’t even know that that was the first one we have gotten this season,” she said. “But when you get 9.9, it literally makes all of what you work for in the gym worth it. It’s just a feeling of excitement.”

Jones saved her season high scores for the last two rotations — the balance beam and floor.

First up on the night came the uneven bars, where Rutgers continued to struggle and tallied its weakest score. Nonetheless, senior April Baker and freshman Erin McLachlan finished in a three-way tie for first with their scores of 9.800. For McLachlan, it was a new career-high. 

In only her second collegiate competition, freshman Kaitlyn Hall notched a career-high of her own with her score of 9.725. The Knights would finish the rotation with a score of 48.025.

Next came vault, an area Rutgers has suddenly excelled at, scoring a 48.950 — a new season high breaking its old record set two weeks ago, and just 0.025 away from cracking the top 10 program total.

Sophomore Riahanah Ali credits the repetition of work for the team’s success.

“Just more numbers,” she said when asked about the improvements on vault the past couple of weeks. “We have been really focusing on … making sure our chests are up on our landings (as well) because it is all about landings at this point.”

All six Knights received a score of 9.725 or higher as McLachlan led the team and scored a 9.850, a career-high and good for first on the night. Ali was also impressed as she matched a career-high at 9.825 and finished tied for second.

For Ali — who has been dealing with injuries for much of the season — to come back healthy and right where she left off is a sign of good things to come for this Rutgers team.

“I feel great,” she said. “I’ve been battling a couple of things this season and just coming out after getting over those few injuries and coming out matching my career-high is kind of cool. I just can’t wait to improve next weekend and be better for the team.”

After vault came floor exercise where the Knights would tally a 48.800, with Jones a big part of that score. Her 9.900, a mark she has hit only two other times in her collegiate career, was good enough for a second-place tie on the night. Ali followed closely behind with her season-high score of 9.875.

Rutgers finished up the night on beam. Again, Jones would be right in the middle of things as she tied the meet-high with her 9.900 —  a career-high as well. Baker and freshman Polina Poliakova scored a 9.800, a new career-high for Poliakova, helping Rutgers earn a 48.500.

Jones said coming into her final season she has set some goals for herself — one of those goals can now be crossed off.

“Since I’m a senior, I’m taking it meet by meet because with every meet it just becomes a little bit more real that I’m done,” she said. “I have a few goals and I keep a sheet of paper in my sock drawer and I look at it every single day and it reminds me of what I’m working for. One of my goals was to get a 9.9.”

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

Robert Sanchez

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