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Mired in the middle of a three-meet losing streak and returning
for a quad meet tomorrow at the Livingston Recreation Center, the
Rutgers gymnastics team is looking for answers that would help it
gain its elusive first win. For many members of the Scarlet
Knights, those answers are in the small details. “After the last
meet we talked about things we can do to improve. We know we can do
and land our routines, but now we have to nitpick and pick out the
tiniest things,” said junior Danielle D’Elia.
The atmosphere in the Livingston Recreation Center during the
Rutgers gymnastics team’s practices is not what it was this time
last year.Gone are the relaxed, social practices that became the norm under
25-year head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton. In the new era of head
coach Louis Levine, business gets a lot more serious. “It is
definitely a stricter atmosphere in the gym. There is more of a
gymnastics focus on what we want as a team.
Junior Danielle D’Elia helped to ease head coach Louis Levine’s
first season with a career performance Friday against UPenn.
Traveling for its second meet in as many weeks, the Rutgers
gymnastics team looked to capture its first victory of the season
against Pennsylvania. What the Scarlet Knights got instead was
their closest defeat yet, falling to the Quakers by a score of
191.975-191.925. The .050 margin of defeat Friday was the narrowest
since February of last year, when Bridgeport ousted Rutgers in
Piscataway by a margin of .025. “It was obviously a very close
meet. It’s always disappointing to lose,” said head coach Louis
Head coach Louis Levine sat star sophomore Luisa Leal in the
Scarlet Knights’ narrow defeat Friday at UPenn. Junior Danielle
D’Elia, right, enjoyed a career day in Leal’s absence, capturing
the all-around title with a career-high score of 38.800 and
registering a career high on the vault with a score of 9.700.
Even with their 0-2 start to the season, the Rutgers gymnastics
team’s positive attitude did not waver. First-year head coach Louis
Levine preaches a motto of improvement week in and week out. When
the Scarlet Knights travel to Pennsylvania tomorrow, they look to
keep their steady improvement alive. “We put on a lot more of a
clean performance [last weekend] at West Virginia than we did in
our opener [against New Hampshire],” Levine said.
The Rutgers gymnastics team opened its season knowing two things
about itself. First, it has a lot to live up to, with last year’s
team notching the most single-season wins in program history.
Second, it is in a time of transition with long-time head coach
Crystal Chollet-Norton stepping down after last season. Former
assistant coach Dan Levine replaced her. The Scarlet Knights find
themselves off to a rocky start, dropping their first two meets of
The Rutgers gymnastics team entered uncharted territory last
season on the Banks. Last year’s team broke the school record for
victories in a season with a 19-8 record and notched its highest
finish and score — fifth and 193.625, respectively — in the East
Atlantic Gymnasts League Championships. With the achievements came
change. As the program she built reached new heights, 25-year head
coach Crystal Chollet-Norton announced her retirement.
Sophomore Luisa Leal led the Scarlet Knights in all-around
competition last season with a 38.68 scoring average.
Senior Nicole Schwartz paced the Knights on the balance beam
last season, scoring 9.154 points per competition.
When the Rutgers gymnastics team recruited Luisa Leal-Restrepo,
expectations were sky-high. She was a veteran of the Colombian
national team and training for the Olympics. While inflated
expectations are a hallmark of recruiting in collegiate athletics,
in the case of Leal-Restrepo, the hype was true.
The Rutgers gymnastics team had a record-breaking season in 2011
after slowly building toward national prominence for the last
Head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton sent three Knights to
NCAA'Regionals and reflected upon her final season with Rutgers,
which featured successful senior day and alumni day meets.
While the Rutgers gymnastics team's season is over, three
gymnasts continued to compete this weekend. The NCAA Regionals were
held in six regions across the country last Saturday to decide who
would qualify for Nationals in Cleveland.
Luisa Leal-Restrepo followed up her East Atlantic Gymnastics
League Freshman of the Year regular season with a 38.000 showing in
the all-around competition at NCAA'Regionals.
The Rutgers gymnastics team had its sights set on going to NCAA
regionals all season, and even though the Scarlet Knights came up
short, they put together a memorable season and broke multiple
records along the way.
Freshman Luisa Leal-Restrepo is one of three Knights ' all
underclassmen ' to earn an invitation to NCAA'regionals and has
experience in big meets.
Sophomore Jenna Zito completed the regular season with an
all-around average of 38.228 and was one of two Knights to complete
all season in all-around for head coach Chrystal
While the schedule for the Rutgers gymnastics team concluded
with a school-record finish at the East Atlantic Gymnastics League
Championships, three gymnasts continued their seasons.
Sophomore Danielle D'Elia qualified for the NCAA'Regionals in
her first season at Rutgers after transferring from Central
Michigan. D'Elia's 9.796 average qualified her for the floor