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Rutgers goes back on road for 2 meets

After collecting its first victory of the season last week over Towson, Ursinus and Western Michigan, the Rutgers gymnastics team will aim to keep its winning streak alive during a busy upcoming weekend with two meets scheduled. 

The first meet of the weekend will be held on Friday at 7 p.m. when they head to Towson, Maryland for a tri meet against the Tigers and the George Washington Colonials. The last time the Scarlet Knights visited Towson was last season, when they fell to the Tigers in a head-to-head meet.

Rutgers will then trek back up to our nation’s capital, to take on Towson for a third straight time, George Washington for a second straight time and Maryland for the first time this year, in a quad meet on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. 

It will be a great opportunity for the team to scout the Terrapins in preparation for the Big Ten Championships on March 24. In 2016, the Knights took part in this exact same quad-meet in Washington, D.C., but despite putting up an admirable score of 195.475, Rutgers finished in third place.

It is safe to say that the Knights will be looking for some revenge returning to those venues of past defeats. With the momentum that they gained from last Saturday night, the team is sure to be fired up during both meets.

Head coach Louis Levine had high praise for his squad, as he recalled that joyous night at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) last weekend.

"We had so many outstanding performances," Levine said, according to "Some of those great performances came under high-pressure situations. This team continues to get better and grow together as a group."

Coming down the home stretch of the season and trying to make a push for the Big Ten title, Rutgers will continue to lean on the girls that have gotten them to this point so far. At the forefront will be senior Makenzey Shank, who seems to be peaking at this critical point of the season.

Last week, Shank had a huge night, tying the school record of 9.925 on the balance beam. She also added a 9.900 on the uneven bars to take first-place in that event. 

Her astounding showing earned her the Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week. The honor was the first gymnastics weekly honor for the program since joining the Big Ten in 2015. 

"Beam stands out as a pretty flawless routine. It tied our record for the best routine ever and it deserved every bit of that. She has the potential to do that any week, but this past week she put it all together," Levine said about Shank. "Hopefully we see more of those moving forward. I see her confidence really growing on those events in practice every day and in meets. We talk about that if you go in there confidently, the sky is the limit."

In addition to Shank, junior Jenna Rizkalla will be looked on to carry the floor rotation. Rizkalla currently holds a team-high average of 9.810 in the event, as well as the individual season high of 9.900 in the event. 

The last piece of the dominant threesome that the Knights have been showcasing is freshman Belle Huang. Last week, Huang had arguably her best meet of the year, posting a personal best 9.875 on floor. She has also been remarkable in the vault event, holding the team-high Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of a 9.745.

The team has just one more regular season meet after this weekend before it hosts Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State for the Big Five meet at the RAC.

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

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