Rutgers earns 194.625 score in New Hampshire

Senior team captain Jenna Rizkalla, who posted two 9.900s, led the Rutgers gymnastics team to a third-place finish in New Hampshire with a team score of 194.625. The host Wildcats won the meet with 196.000.

Landing in stick fashion and on top of the podium, Rizkalla tumbled her way to tie a career high on the floor before jumping to a new personal best on vault for a double-win in both events.

"Rizkalla was on fire today," said head coach Umme Salim-Beasley. "She stepped up in a big way. We counted all three of her scores. For her to have two 9.900s in one meet, it's pretty remarkable. For her to do it and to do it away from home is really an exclamation point on her career because a lot of times away teams just don't score as high."

The Scarlet Knights posted yet another 49.000 on floor for the fourth time this season. Rutgers knows how to bring its energy on floor, and it always gets the ball rolling into its other events.

For posting the fifth consecutive mark above 194, the Knights didn’t have key point scorers freshman Mia Betancourt and senior Riahanah Ali in their respective events. 

Betancourt returned to competition, but only competed on beam, posting a 9.550. She will hopefully return to all three of her events (beam, vault and floor) this weekend. Ali was out entirely, but she will likely compete at Rutgers’ senior meet at home as well.

"The team did a fantastic job tonight," Salim-Beasley said. "We had to go with two replacements on pretty much every event because Mia Betancourt is just coming back from a concussion and was only able to compete beam today. And we had to rest Riahanah Ali, doctor's orders."

After qualifying for the noon session at the Big Ten Championships at the end of March, the Knights know that they’re starting off on beam there, and did so this past weekend.

Rizkalla recorded Rutgers’ highest beam score with a 9.750 for eighth. Coming in a tie for ninth was junior Kaitlyn Hall with a score of 9.725.

The Knights put up their lowest event score of the night with a 48.225, but continued their way through the competition by taking on each event as a new opportunity to perform at the highest level for Rutgers.

“I think they started out well,” Salim-Beasley said. “A little tight on beam, but they were able to relax and be really aggressive on floor, so they did a good job on being able to manage starting off tight and then we did the best we could to finish out strong in our other events.”

Alongside Rizkalla’s 9.900 on floor, all-arounders sophomore Belle Huang and senior Michelle Amoresano contributed respective scores of 9.850 for fifth and a 9.825 for eighth.

Hopping their way to vault, Rizkalla kept the fire lit inside of the Knights’ bubble with her second consecutive 9.900 to add to an overall vault score of 48.800. Hall also came through for Rutgers to post a 9.775 for a tie in seventh.

The only event Rizkalla didn’t compete in was uneven bars, which the Knights finished on with a team event score of 48.600. Stepping up to the bar this time around was Amoresano with a 9.800 for fifth. The next best event score for Rutgers was junior Shannon Farrell with a 9.725 for 11th.

The Knights will return on the Banks for a quad meet at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) on Friday at 7 p.m. Rutgers will host Bridgeport, Centenary and Towson University.

With any kind of adversity, the Knights have shown that no matter the circumstances, they need to bring their best performances to every single competition.

“It really gave an opportunity for some of our other gymnasts to show what they're capable of doing,” Salim-Beasley said. “They did a very good job. They stepped into lineups and really put up scores that helped us have a solid team score.”

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

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