Senior posts career high in all-around
More than 1,100 spectators filled the Livingston Gym on Saturday to watch the Rutgers gymnastics team finish second with a score of 194.575 in a quad meet with Penn State, Ursinius and Temple.
The record crowd did not go unnoticed to head coach Louis Levine.
“The energy level was amazing,” he said. “Having a full house is a great thing and the girls feed off of it and then the crowd feeds off the girls and it’s a great cycle.”
Future conference foe No. 20 Penn State won the meet with a score of 195.825.
“We are ranked right there with them,” senior Alexis Gunzelman said. “It’s not a team we can’t beat. I think there’s things that we got wrong on our side that put us behind when we did not want to.”
Gunzelman alluded to the team’s score of 47.65 on the uneven bars in their second rotation.
That score was just below the Knights’ previous season low of 47.775 in an event they consistently post higher scores.
“Any time you get one of those top-25 programs, it’s obviously a chance to step up and show how good you are,” Levine said. “Mostly I think we did a good job. We had our struggles on the bars but you want to go up against the best to see where you are and where you stand.”
The Knights rebounded in their last two events with scores better than 49 on the balance beam and floor.
Gunzelman led the way with a meet-high 9.875 score on the beam followed by sophomore Jenna Williams, who tied for third.
Three Knights — junior Anastasia Halbig, sophomore Claudia Salinas and freshman Claire Jones — tied with two other gymnasts for fifth place in the event with a score of 9.775.
Gunzelman finished with a new career-high all-around score of 39.4 — the second-highest score in school history. It came a week after she scored a season-low of 38.025 at Penn.
“I’m really happy,” Gunzelman said. “After my performance last week, I knew I had to go into the gym confident and I think I got it back.”
She also led the meet with a 9.9 on floor exercise to pace the Knights in their last event. Jones and freshman Charly Santagado, who scored 9.85s to tie with three Penn State gymnasts for second place, followed Gunzelman.
The Knights were still without injured junior Luisa Leal and freshman April Baker, but they welcomed back junior Emma Hoffman.
An uneven bars specialist, Hoffman had been sidelined since the beginning of February with what she described as a tweaked ankle.
She earned a 9.55 on the bars in her return.
“It felt really great definitely to get out of practice and show what I can do for the team — just to get back out there and contribute,” Hoffman said.
The Nittany Lions, Rutgers’ toughest opponent so far this season, did not faze Hoffman.
“We always tell ourselves we’re not competing against the teams that are here,” Hoffman said. “We’re competing against the whole country so we kind of always have that type of pressure on us.”
Temple finished in third with a 191.95 while Ursinius trailed with a score of 184.825.
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