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Rutgers fall on road to No. 16 Auburn

Knights lose 2nd head to head matchup of season

It was quite a scene at Auburn Arena Friday night, as a crowd of more than 5,000 packed the house as the Rutgers gymnastics team dropped a tough one, losing to No. 16 Auburn, 196.575 to 194.225. 

Despite the Scarlet Knights’ admirable performances, they were unable to match a tough Tigers squad who executed in all aspects of the sport. Nevertheless, the team showed real guts, putting up a great fight against one of the top teams in the nation.        

"I thought it was a great showing tonight," said head coach Louis Levine to "The team continues to work hard and get better every week. They went out and enjoyed every minute of competition, fighting for every tenths from beginning to end.” 

Leading off on the uneven bars, Rutgers got off to a hot start, posting a 48.250. Junior Michelle Amoresano scored a 9.775, while sophomore Shannon Farrell contributed a 9.750 of her own. 

But, it was senior Makenzey Shank who led the way and got her big night started, scoring a 9.825 in the first event of the night. 

Next up, the Knights’ vault lineup took a crack at Auburn, and again posted a good score. As a team, Rutgers tallied a 48.375 on vault, and it was three freshman who led the way. 

Belle Huang continued her strong season, putting up a score of 9.775, while Sophia Atienza and Toni Williams each chipped in with 9.750's to round out the second rotation. These three bright young faces continue to shine and show promise for the future of the program, particularly in vault. 

After the vault came the floor exercise, where junior Jenna Rizkalla again led the lineup, setting the pace with a very solid 9.825. Huang continued her consistent night with a 9.800, to match her season high in this event, while Shank put up another solid score with a 9.725. 

Williams contributed a 9.700, while freshman Hannah Prieto, making just her second career appearance in competition after making her debut last week in Maryland, posted a score of 9.725. Those efforts were good enough for a 48.775, the highest score of any rotation for the Knights in Alabama. 

Finally, in the last event of the night, Rutgers tried its luck on the balance beam. Yet again, Huang impressed, tallying a score of 9.750, to lock in at least that score in all of the three events that she participated in. 

Her total individual score of 38.925 is the highest she has scored this season to date, as she stepped up in the spotlight against a top-20 team in the Tigers. 

Sophomore Erin McLachlan also did her part as she posted a solid 9.750, but it was Shank who dominated that event, and the night for that matter. Putting up an impressive 9.875, Shank posted the highest score of the night for the Knights, ending the meet with a bang. Collectively, the team put up a 48.725 on balance beam to close the night on a high note. 

Rutgers will be home for the first time in the last three weeks this Saturday at 7 p.m., hosting a quad meet which will include Ursinus, Towson and Western Michigan. 

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

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