May 23, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers claims 1st victory of season


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Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

The Rutgers gymnastics team finally broke through for its first win of the season on Saturday, beating Towson, Ursinus and Western Michigan after putting up a season-best 194.800, sweeping all four events. 

The Tigers barely missed out on the crown, taking home second place with a score of 194.450. The Broncos followed with a 192.650 in third place while the Bears struggled on their way to a measly 188.125 to finish in last place.   

It was Senior Night at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), where the program honored Jenna Crisalli, Libby Groden and Makenzey Shank after the fourth rotation. It was a big night for each of them as they all contributed to the Scarlet Knights’ impressive performance. 

“I'm really proud of the way the team performed tonight, especially the seniors," said head coach Louis Levine, according to scarletknights.com. "There were a few mistakes here and there, but I'm happy with how we did. We continue to get better each week. There was a ton of energy in the building and the crowd was into it."

It was on the balance beam where Rutgers stole the show. 

Shank led off the rotation and was nearly flawless. The senior posted a school-record 9.925, tying alumna Lisa Abrams who reached that plateau twice back in 2004. 

Next up was Groden, who was honored as a national semifinalist for the American Athletic, Inc. Award this past week. Groden posted a 9.825 in the event, which was good for her season high. 

Sophomore Shannon Farrell followed Groden, posting a 9.800, her own personal best. Freshman Belle Huang was next and matched the 9.800, reaching that score for a notable fourth time this season. 

Huang continued her big night as she impressed on floor as well, recording her personal best with a 9.875. Junior Jenna Rizkalla continued her consistent season, putting up a solid 9.825 while Farrell scored a 9.800 for the first time this season. Together, the Knights put up 48.650 points, which clinched them the win on floor.   

The first event of the night was vault, where Rutgers got off to a hot start, posting a 48.700. All five performers scored at least a 9.700, setting the tone for the rest of the night. 

Groden and freshman Toni Williams led the rotation, each tallying a 9.775. Junior Michelle Amoresano followed right behind them with a 9.725, while freshman Sophia Atienza posted a 9.700 to round off the event. 

It was then time for the Knights to try their luck on the uneven bars. Collectively, Rutgers tied its season best on the bars with a score of 48.425. 

Shank led this rotation as well, posting her second score of at least 9.900 of the night. The 9.900 was her career high on the bars as she shined in the spotlight on Senior Night. 

Farrell posted her career best as well with a score of 9.875. Sophomore Emma Karas notched her own personal best with a 9.725, while Amoresano matched that. 

All in all, it was quite the night in Piscataway for the Knights, who hope to carry this momentum into their two matches next weekend at Towson and George Washington. 

"It was great to compete at the RAC in an exciting night of gymnastics," Levine said, according to scarletknights.com.


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


Stephan Zatz

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