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Senior finishes career as top all-arounder

<p>Senior gymnast Alexis Gunzelman ended her career at the NCAA Championships.</p>

Senior gymnast Alexis Gunzelman ended her career at the NCAA Championships.

While the final result was not what she wanted, senior Alexis Gunzelman finished her career as the top all-around gymnast in program history after competing last Friday at nationals in Birmingham, Ala.

Gunzelman earned a 38.175 in the all-around competition and started off strong on her first two events of the night. She opened the competition on the vault and scored a 9.700 after a side step on her landing.

She moved on to the uneven bars in her second rotation and finished her routine by sticking her half-in, half-out dismount. The dismount involves two flips with a half twist on each of them.

“Her main goal for this weekend — because the routine she’s doing right now is phenomenal — is sticking her dismount,” assistant coach Umme Salim-Beasley said prior to the competition. “It’s the last thing that the judges see and what they remember. Usually a stuck landing and a big finish puts the icing on the cake of the routine.”

The stuck landing put an exclamation point on the routine where the Tabernacle, N.J., native earned a 9.800. It was the 10th time this season that she posted at least a 9.800 on bars.

Head coach Louis Levine said that while the meet could have gone better, the experience of being at nationals was a reward in itself.

“I thought she did a good job,” Levine said. “We would have liked to finish a little bit stronger than we did but the hard part was getting here. I think she had a good experience. The first two events were great. She did a great vault and a great job on bars.”

Gunzelman missed her back handspring, layout step-out series on beam but was solid through the rest of her routine to finish strong and scored a 9.175.

“It was great to get there my senior year and have the meet of my life,” Gunzelman said. “It wasn’t the meet I wanted to have, but it was a good experience.”

She finished up the night on floor exercise where she threw a double layout for her first pass for the first time this season. She landed two passes a little bit short and earned a 9.500.

The final two rotations were not what the senior had hoped for.

“It didn’t go as nicely as planned,” Gunzelman said. “But, I went out there and left everything on the floor and I’m happy with everything that I’ve accomplished this past season.”

Those accomplishments included setting a career high in the all around this season with a 39.400 on Feb. 22 when the Rutgers gymnastics team hosted Penn State, Temple and Ursinus.

Gunzelman tied or set career highs on floor, beam and vault and was named EAGL team MVP for the third time in career.

She earned EAGL first-team honors in the all-around and on all four events this season and was one of only two gymnastics in the conference to do so. Gunzelman was named EAGL Gymnast of the Week twice over the course of the season.

“[It’s] one of the things I can probably be most proud of while I’ve been here. She came here as a walk-on. To go from walk-on to making the NCAA championships is no small feat.” Levine said. “You make it to the pinnacle. You can’t go any farther. [If you] make it to the last competition of the year, you’ve done a good job.”

For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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