Rutgers finishes in last at Big Tens
Flying into University Park, Pennsylvania, the Rutgers gymnastics team was ready to send shockwaves through the Big Ten. But, the conference championships for the Scarlet Knights didn’t go as planned and the team was sent packing in last with a 194.175.
On the bright side, Rutgers actually tallied its highest event score of the season on floor with a 49.200, which marks the program’s fifth-highest score on the event.
The Big Ten is a deep conference full of amazing talent and the Knights didn’t have the showstopper that it needed to score better than their competitors. Competing in the noon session, No. 23 Ohio State finished first with a 195.775, followed by Michigan State (195.425) and Maryland (194.800). Michigan won its sixth consecutive Big Ten title with a 197.400 in the evening session.
“It was a successful end to our season,” said head coach Umme Salim-Beasley. “Of course, it wasn't the outcome we would've wanted, ultimately, because we know that we are capable of doing more than what we were able to show today.”
Beam has always been an event Rutgers has struggled on and today was no exception. With an event score of 47.775, some of the Knights put together solid routines while others had a hard time focusing in and calming themselves on the task at hand.
Junior Kaitlyn Hall, senior Michelle Amoresano and freshman Kiera Doherty-Herwitz all scored 9.700 to lead Rutgers in the event. Behind the trio of Knights was sophomore Belle Huang, finishing with a 9.650.
“They didn't want this miss on beam to be the story of this competition,” Salim-Beasley said. “They didn't want this to be an excuse of why they weren't successful. They really had to clear their heads and reset. They were determined and they went out on the next three events and really finished strong.”
Resetting for floor, Rutgers quickly bounced back and showed its depth in the event as the scoring Knights all posted 9.800 or higher. This time around, Huang led Rutgers with a 9.875, matching the highest score by a Knight since joining the Big Ten. That score put her in a tie for sixth among the other teams.
With scores of 9.850, Amoresano and senior Riahanah Ali crushed their final Big Ten performances of their collegiate careers to tie for eighth. Fellow senior Jenna Rizkalla scored a 9.825, and sophomore Sophia Atienza finished with a 9.800.
Running over to vault (48.550), Rutgers had nearly identical scores across the board. Sophomore Toni Williams, Huang, Ali and Hall all scored 9.700 with Amoresano (9.750) and Rizkalla (9.725) scoring slightly higher than the rest.
Swinging onto bars (48.625), the Knights again were able to produce good routines, but competing in the Big Ten requires something more than just good performances.
Freshman Abigail Karolewski took down her fellow bar queen teammate to post Rutgers’ highest score in the event with a 9.775 for eighth. Junior Shannon Farrell and sophomore Emily Drauss were in behind Karolewski with similar scores of 9.750.
“After our miss on the first event, being able to come back and really finish strong on three events is something we're really proud of,” Salim-Beasley said. “That is really the story of this team this year is that they are resilient. They are able to finish strong and not let one miss affect the rest of the meet.”
Looking at the all-around scores, Huang, a Second Team All-Big Ten selection, tallied a 38.900 to rank fourth in the Big Ten. Amoresano added together a 38.450, good for sixth.
This is the end of the road for many of the Knights this season, but some will have the chance to qualify for NCAA regionals from April 4 to 6, hosted by Michigan.
“This is the foundation here,” Salim-Beasley said. “This team has to understand our philosophy and really buy into the changes that we've been putting in. That's one thing we're able to do. With the recruits that we have coming in, we're really going to be able to show what were capable of doing on a national stage.”
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