March 19, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers to face No. 16 Auburn in Alabama

Huang, Rizkalla continue to lead team

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

For the first time since 2014, the Rutgers gymnastics team will be heading to a SEC school this Friday for a primetime 8 p.m. head-to-head matchup against Auburn. Not only will it be its first trip to a SEC school since 2014, but it will actually be its first visit to the state of Alabama since 1998, the last time it took the trip to Auburn University. 

The meet will be broadcast on SEC Network, as the Scarlet Knights take on the No. 16 Tigers in what is sure to be a very exciting meet.

With back-to-back second place finishes in two quad meets under its belt, Rutgers looks to secure its first outright victory of the season, and it will sure to be a tough task against this highly touted Auburn squad. 

Last time out, the Knights displayed their grittiest performance of the year, as they had to battle a number of injuries and compete five on vault. Nevertheless, Rutgers rose to the occasion, tying a season-high 48.925 in that event. It will definitely look to keep that momentum rolling into Auburn Arena on Friday night. 

Freshman Belle Huang and junior Jenna Rizkalla aim to continue to lead the team as they have been consistent, clutch performers in every meet of the season thus far. 

Huang posted the team’s top vault score of 9.875 in Maryland last week, and continues to show high amounts of promise. Rizkalla has executed her vault routine week in and week out as she currently holds the lineup-high 9.838 average in the event thus far. 

These two have unquestionably been the leaders of this team. As they continue to trend upward and gain confidence, look for more of the same on Friday against the Tigers. 

But, you can’t forget about the impressive freshman duo of Toni Williams and Sophia Atienza who both came up big for the Knights last week scoring 9.800 and 9.750, respectively on vault. Both Williams and Atienza will be key parts of the team not only this Friday, but for the remainder of the season and future seasons to come. 

This Rutgers team is due for a victory, and what a spot for its first one this would be against a national powerhouse.  

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

Stephan Zatz

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