Rutgers hosts, competes in Big Ten Championships
For the first time since 2006, the Rutgers gymnastics team hosted a conference championship on Saturday as all ten schools in the Big Ten Conference traveled to Piscataway to take part in the Big Ten Championships at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
After the Scarlet Knights (10-15, 1-9) placed fifth in the Big Five Qualifiers in Iowa, they were slated for the noon start time on Saturday as the bottom four teams would battle it out. The top six teams would compete during the 5 p.m. slot. The highest total score regardless of the time slot would walk away as conference champions.
Three-time defending champion Michigan came out on top once again with a score of 197.300. Rutgers finished third in its session and ninth overall with a score of 194.700, ahead of Maryland.
Senior Claire Jones and junior Makenzey Shank earned spots on the All-Championships Team with Jones, competing in her final home meet, vaulting to a season high 9.875 to tie for first in the session while finishing tied for third overall.
The Knights started out the competition on floor exercise — where they would eventually score the highest with a 48.900. Leading the way was sophomore Riahanah Ali and her 9.850, with Jones following closely behind with a 9.800. Shank, junior Libby Groden and sophomore Jenna Rizkalla rounded out the crew with scores of 9.775, 9.750 and 9.725, respectively.
Jones led the vault rotation with her season-high performance while freshman Erin McLachlan tallied a 9.800. Groden also helped out her team with a 9.700 to give Rutgers a total score of 48.675 on vault.
Rutgers would then move on to the uneven bars and would notch a total of 48.500. Leading the way this time was Groden as she landed to a score of 9.800 — her best score on the day. Shank flipped to a 9.775 and sophomore Michelle Amoresano got in on the fun with a 9.700 of her own.
The Knights finished the meet on balance beam and ended the day with a 48.675 led by Shank’s impressive 9.850 — tying her for a first place finish in the session. Jones would go on to score a 9.775 while senior April Baker ended her home career with a 9.725. Groden added a 9.700 and finished with an all-around score of 38.950. She was also a Second Team All-Big Ten selection.
After 11 years without hosting a conference championship, Rutgers wanted to do something really special for not only its team and the rest of the conference, but for the Knights program as a whole. For the first time in the Big Ten Conference Championships’ history — which dates back to 1982 — the events took place on a podium thanks to the unwavering help of Rutgers staff and alumni days before the competition.
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