September 22, 2019 | 77° F

Rookie continues adjustment on mat

Photo by Nelson Morales |

Freshman Sara Skammer performs Saturday in the floor exercise.  She improved by nearly .600 in the event since her first meet.

When Sara Skammer competes in the floor exercise for the Rutgers gymnastics team, she exudes confidence that comes with years of experience.

The freshman is more than capable of stepping up to the plate to compete on the balance beam when called. And on uneven bars and vault, she shows a poise and balance similar to veteran members of the Scarlet Knights.

In fact, the only time Skammer looks visibly nervous is when she speaks to the media following Rutgers’ meets. In the middle of her rookie season on the Banks, Skammer continues to acclimate to all the aspects that correspond with being a college athlete.

“It is definitely interesting. It is really hard trying to balance school and gymnastics, but it is getting easier,” Skammer said. “This is my first season trying to do school work with gymnastics, but I’m getting used to it. It is a lot better than what it was.”

While the freshman from Dallas, Pa., found the time to adjust to her life outside of gymnastics, she was thrust headlong into it when it came time to compete.

Skammer competed in the all-around in the Knights’ first meet of the year against New Hampshire.

The meet ended in disappointment for not only Skammer but the entire team as well. The Knights dropped the matchup at home, and Skammer took fourth in the all-around with a score of 36.975.

Skammer said she felt the nerves that come with a freshman campaign.

“I feel like I have a lot of expectations to live up to,” Skammer said. “I have been trying really hard in the gym and at meets, just trying to get my act together. It is a lot to worry about.”

But if there is one thing first-year head coach Louis Levine stressed for the Knights this season, it is improvement from meet to meet. In her first year, Skammer shows improvement in spades.

Since the New Hampshire meet, she has not competed in all four events for the Knights. But in only a week, she improved her scores in both the beam competition and on vault.

When the Knights bounced back two weeks later and earned their first wins of the season, Skammer brought her scores up in beam, vault and floor exercise at least .200 each. On beam, she went from a 9.125 against New Hampshire to a 9.700.

She made an afternoon out of tying or surpassing personal bests on Saturday in the Knights’ home victory against SUNY-Cortland and Brown. Her 9.725 on vault tied for her best score, while her 9.700 on the floor was a career high.

“I thought I did a lot better than I did last meet,” Skammer said. “I improved in pretty much all three events [against Cortland and Brown], so I was more consistent. That is what I was hoping for.”

Skammer finds comfort in the confines of the team’s home floor, the Livingston Recreation Center. There, her coaches and teammates make her first season much easier.

“I love the atmosphere. Even with a lot of people that don’t know about the meets, we have posters everywhere and they see them when they come,” Skammer said. “There is a lot of camaraderie here at Rutgers and a lot of people who are here supporting us.”

By Vinnie Mancuso

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