Rutgers heads west to face No. 19 Ohio State
Fresh off only its second Big Ten win in three years, the Rutgers gymnastics team heads to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday to take on Big Ten rival No. 19 Ohio State (4-2, 1-2).
The Scarlet Knights (8-4, 1-2) have had a busy schedule as of late and are experiencing some fatigue but will look to keep the ball rolling this weekend.
“You can tell it is halfway through the season and we are definitely tired which means we just have to bring more of a positive energy,” said senior Claire Jones. “It is definitely harder but it is almost like a challenge to come in here every day trying to get better knowing that we are tired, but then once you hit a beautiful routine on a day when it has been snowing and raining, it makes it all the more worthwhile.”
After two straight impressive home meets, Rutgers will be on the road for the second time this season, but being away from its home crowd does not change how head coach Louis Levine’s team prepares.
“You (have) got to be able to go in there with your confidence high and really just do your part,” Levine said. “What the other team does (and) what the other crowd does should not play a major role in that.”
After a fun and important win last week, it is easy to hit autopilot and slip into old habits, but the Knights understand there is still work to be done and that this is only the beginning of what they set out to accomplish at the start of the season.
“I mean we have pretty much had the same message for the last few weeks, which is being positive and keep pushing forward,” Levine said. “We got to keep cleaning up the little things and keep pushing forward. We got a bunch of really good teams that we compete against on a week in (and) week out basis, (so) if we want to keep winning, we got to keep improving.”
Junior Libby Groden echoed that sentiment and thinks that the team is mentally ready for the upcoming challenge.
“We are in a good state, I think we are ready for this weekend,” Groden said. “I think (the competition) is just going to keep moving upward and upward, so I hope we do that (as well).”
Without the energy of the home crowd, Rutgers will need to look somewhere else for momentum, but it should not be too hard to find.
“I think we can create that same energy (away from home),” Groden said. “We can create the same type of vibe and feel that we have going on at home meets.”
This is also the Knights' first head-to-head meet this season, with their previous four competitions being quad meets.
“I don’t know for the other girls, but it doesn’t really phase me,” Jones said when asked about the difference between head-to-head matchups and quad meets. “I am not worried about what the other team is doing. I am just trying to go out there and beat my score from last week and have fun with my girls. I don’t really care what everybody else is doing.”
The Buckeyes are coming off of two straight losses against conference powerhouses Minnesota and Iowa.
Regardless of the opponent, Rutgers knows it has to perform well every single week and be ready to compete, not only during competitions but practices as well, Jones said.
“We know we got to put in a little, not extra work because we have been working our tails off, but just a little bit more push,” Jones said.
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