Rutgers captures best vault time against Iowa

In the second Big Ten competition of the season, the Rutgers gymnastics team couldn’t defeat Iowa over the weekend. Recording an overall score of 191.625, the Scarlet Knights fell to the Hawkeyes’ total score of 194.575. 

Even though scores were lower, head coach Umme Salim-Beasley is still pleased with how Rutgers handled the given scores.

“We aren’t disappointed in our performance today,” Salim-Beasley said. “We definitely were a little disappointed with the scores that were coming up. Of course, that's something that we really have no control over.”

Beginning on the uneven parallel bars, junior Shannon Farrell closed out the Knights with the highest score of 9.700 to come in sixth. But Iowa dominated the bars, taking hold of the top five positions.

Rutgers logged its best event score on vault for the third time this season with a 48.400. Junior Kaitlyn Hall secured her second first-place finish of the season to tie the Hawkeyes' Bridget Killian with a score of 9.750. Sophomores Belle Huang and Toni Williams trailed slightly behind Hall to log the same score of 9.700.

After the first two events, Iowa carried a 1.175 lead over the Knights heading into the final two events of the competition. Whether or not the scores were slightly lower for both teams remains unclear.

“The scores on both events were probably a tenth and a half to two tenths lower than what we would have expected them to be," Salim-Beasley said. "But there's nothing we can do about that."

The excitement on the floor continued from last week, but similar to bars and vault, scores didn’t seem to reflect Rutgers' performance in the event. Huang notched the Knights' highest-scoring floor routine in a 9.750 to tie with the Hawkeyes' Charlotte Sullivan for fourth place. 

Seniors Jenna Rizkalla and Michelle Amoresano were also able to come into the mix with scores of 9.675 and 9.650 for sixth and seventh, respectively.

“We left everything out there on the floor,” said freshman Mia Betancourt. “We were going through some difficulty with scoring being not as high as we thought it should be, but we still continued to put forth our best effort.”

Compared to Iowa, Rutgers had a similar bars performance on the beam where the Hawkeyes swept the top five spots in the event. Huang and freshman Kiera Doherty-Herwitz both scored a 9.575 for sixth place while Betancourt was just behind with a score of 9.550 for eighth place. 

“Just as we were having the same issue as last week with our beam and missing connections, that was something that we really needed to work on moving into this meet,” Salim-Beasley said. “Some of the girls were a little bit hesitant and held back. That definitely affected their ability to attack the routines the way that they needed to.”

In the all-around scores, Iowa didn’t have any gymnasts compete in all four events. On the other hand, Huang and Amoresano produced respective all-around scores of 38.600 and 38.125 to contribute major points for the Knights.

“I feel like as a team, we did well,” Huang said. “We did what we had to do and gave it our all. This upcoming week, I think we just need to be a little more relaxed, but also be aggressive.”

Rutgers will focus on tightening up its skills this week in order to produce better and more consistent results throughout the season. If the Knights want to make their connections on the beam, then they'll have to learn how to perfect them in practice before the team can replicate them in competition.

“We'll do a lot of pressure sets this week where they're going to have to make connections when it counts in practice," Salim-Beasley said. "Hopefully, that will give them the same feel they're going to end up getting in competition."

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

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