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The goal all season for the Rutgers gymnastics team was simple — qualify for the NCAA Regionals. The Scarlet Knights earned their first appearance at regionals since 2007, and it is the first time Rutgers has qualified under third-year head coach Louis Levine. After a program-best third-place finish at the EAGL Championships on March 22 and posting both the highest score on the road at 195.825 and the top-program score of 196.225, the Knights have one more meet to reach perfection.
The uneven bars require consistency and precision.
In gymnastics, the balance beam requires a different mentality than the other three events. Gymnasts flip, jump and spin on an apparatus that is four feet off the ground and is just four inches wide. It is the event that is considered the most psychologically straining, according to Rutgers head gymnastics coach Louis Levine.
In a season full of broken records, the Rutgers gymnastics team added one more to its collection Saturday at the EAGL Championships. The Scarlet Knights scored a 195.275 to finish tied for third with North Carolina State, behind hosts New Hampshire and the Maryland. The third place finish was the program’s top score at the conference championships.
Coming off its second straight record-breaking weekend after a program-best 196.225 score, the Rutgers gymnastics team looks to carry that momentum into its final meet of the regular season. The Scarlet Knights travel tomorrow to face conference foes North Carolina, and ECAC rivals William & Mary and Brown in their final meet before the EAGL championships.
Each event in gymnastics has its own personality. Vault is quick and powerful and is over in a matter of seconds. The uneven bars require grace and look effortless. Balance beam shows fearlessness. Floor exercise allows gymnasts to blend personality, performance and athleticism into a 90-second routine.
As the Rutgers gymnastics team entered its final rotation Saturday, the noise level at the Livingston Gym rose. Freshman Charly Santagado took the floor exercise and scored a career-high 9.875 to start the Scarlet Knights off on the right foot. They never looked back. Rutgers (17-3) finished atop the standings with a school-record score of 196.225 in the five-team meet that included No. 17 Central Michigan, Southern Connecticut State, Yale and Towson.
In a sport that is defined by tenths and hundredths of a point, even a season-best score leaves plenty of room for improvement. The Rutgers gymnastics team will aim to make those improvements this weekend in its final home competition of the season. The Scarlet Knights (13-2) hit on all four events for a score of 195.825 last weekend, which showed the potential Rutgers has when it puts together clean routines.
Sophomore Jenna Williams and freshman Claire Jones each earned EAGL weekly honors yesterday for the Rutgers gymnastics team after their career-high performances Saturday at Cornell. Williams earned Specialist of the Week following a 9.875 score on balance beam. Her previous top score was a 9.850, which she earned Jan. 19 at Ohio State.
Four straight overtime matches — three straight shootouts. For the Rutgers’s women’s soccer team, it was 361 minutes and 15 seconds without giving up a goal. The Scarlet Knights capped off the 2013 season in the first round of the NCAA tournament Nov. 16 when they fell to West Virginia on penalty kicks.
When West Virginia goalkeeper Sara Keane stopped senior forward Jonelle Filigno’s penalty kick Saturday, the focus shifted to the offseason for the Rutgers women’s soccer team. The Scarlet Knights now have nine months to prepare for a new season in their third conference in as many years. “I think the biggest thing [to take away from the season] is that we are just as good as everyone else, if not better,” said freshman midfielder Madison Tiernan.
Three months ago, the Rutgers women’s soccer team traveled to Morgantown, W. Va., to face West Virginia in its opening scrimmage. The Scarlet Knights (13-4-4, 5-3-3) fell to the Mountaineers, 3-0. Now the two former Big East members will battle it out again there in tomorrow’s NCAA Tournament opening round. Head coach Glenn Crooks believes his team will not look back to the early-season loss.
When opposing teams ready for the Rutgers women’s soccer team, there is a rare wrinkle they must prepare for: a flip throw-in, where she runs and front flips before inbounding. Sophomore defender Brianne Reed honed the skill in middle school. The sophomore defender spent 10 years competing as a gymnast and made it to Level 8, just two levels away from becoming an elite gymnast.
The Rutgers women’s soccer team finds itself in a position it has not been in since 2006. With a win tonight, the Scarlet Knights then play for a conference title. Before the Knights (13-4-2, 5-3-1) can jump into the AAC final, they cannot overlook their semifinal matchup with seventh-seeded Memphis (13-7-0, 4-5-0). The two programs first met Oct. 4 at Yurcak Field, which resulted in a 3-2 Rutgers victory.
Tricia DiPaolo has been with the Rutgers women’s soccer team almost twice as long as her freshman teammates. Six knee surgeries — three ACL tears, two meniscus tears and a microfracture surgery — threatened to force the senior defender to hang up her cleats. Instead of stepping away from the game, she used those words to spark a comeback.
Fans who have watched the Rutgers women’s soccer team this season may have noticed that two freshmen — midfielders Tori Prager and Madison Tiernan — have a special connection on the field. Being teammates for six years — first at the club level with the Mount Laurel United Crush and then with the Olympic Development Program — can have that effect.