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Rutgers posts season-high team score in loss to Penn State

For its third consecutive road match over the past two weeks, the Rutgers gymnastics team went out with a bang. The Scarlet Knights posted their second-highest and top-five overall team score while competing away against Penn State. The total score of 195.700 also marks the team’s highest mark it's reached this season.

"The team had a fantastic performance today. We had to make a few changes to our lineup due to injuries, but our next gymnasts were ready to show what they were capable of," said head coach Umme Salim-Beasley. "Our team was confident and ready to step up. Tonight was a huge confidence builder and a nice jumpstart for our home meet next weekend. I am extremely proud of how they competed today."

Rutgers set the bar high on bars with a season-high total score of 48.850 in the event, led by sophomore Abigail Karolewski’s 9.800. A trio of Knights, consisting of senior Shannon Farrell, junior Emily Drauss and senior Kaitlyn Hall, posted scores of 9.775 in their respective routines.

Junior Belle Huang has been struggling in the event over the past couple of meets and finished her routine with a score of 9.000. The all-rounder has a strong hold in all of her other events, but her total score ends up suffering from her low bars score.

Vault has quietly become the event that Rutgers has improved most upon. The Knights scored a 49.075, which was led by a pair of 9.850s from true freshman Hannah Joyner and Hall. Rutgers' total score in the event marks its third highest vault record in program history.

A lot of work still needs to be done on floor. The Knights recorded a 48.575, with Huang completing her routine for a 9.850. Following behind Huang was Joyner with a score of 9.825. The all-rounders were the only two with scores above 9.700. Karolewski and true freshman Jordyn Duffield were next in line with identical scores of 9.675.

After falling out of her routine and injuring herself last weekend, sophomore Sophia Atienza was right back at it on floor and posted an 8.900. 

Rutgers finished off the evening in its best event and posted the second highest beam record for the program with a score of 49.200. 

Leading the charge for the Knights were the freshmen. Posting yet another score of 9.900 or above, Joyner put on a near-stellar routine for a score of 9.925. Behind Joyner was Duffield, who put together a score of 9.850. 

Beam record holder senior Erin McLachlan wasn’t close to her 9.950 set in the previous weekend against Penn, but still managed a 9.750 to finish the lineup.

Progress isn’t going to be immediate, but for Rutgers, it seems to be making leaps and bounds early on in the season. The Knights should be going in with a lot of confidence back home. To compete this well on the road is a testament to Rutgers’ growth when competing away from the Banks and its ability to stay true to its “stay in our own bubble” mindset.

For all of the events, depth is necessary to score big in a lineup. There are clear standouts in each of the events, but there needs to be more consistency from across the board. 

The Knights will have the chance to show New Jersey their progress this season in their second home meet of the year. Rutgers will take on Michigan State at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

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

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