PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Feb. 20, 2014) – Coming off three consecutive weekends on the road, Rutgers returns home to host its annual Alumni/Pink Meet Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Livingston Recreation Center. The meet will also include Penn State, Temple and Ursinus.
Fans are advised to arrive early since seating is limited and a sellout crowd is expected. Information on tickets can be found here.
The Scarlet Knights will wear pink for the meet in support of breast cancer research, encouraging fans to do the same. Donations will be collected for the Susan G. Komen Foundation at different locations in the facility.
· Giveaway Item: Pink digital camera
· Silent Auction: Framed autographed leotard
· Poster Distribution
· Lucky Seats of the Meet (two tickets for Rutgers Cinema)
· T-Shirt Toss (beginning of the meet and after an RU gymnast scores a 9.7 or higher)
· Handstand Contest (winner receives a red iPod shuffle)
Now into the second half of the season, the Scarlet Knights look to maintain a strong start to the year. The team improved to 10-1 head-to-head for only the second time in school history, matching that of the 1978 squad. RU holds an RQS mark of 194.385, ranking second in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League.
In its last time out, Rutgers scored consistently on vault, notching the top four scores of the meet. The team also took the top three spots in the uneven bars competition. Senior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.) paced the Scarlet Knights in both events, recording a season-high score in each.
Future Big Ten opponent, No. 20 Penn State enters the meet after topping No. 14 Illinois at home. The Nittany Lions posted a season-high (196.675) for its third straight meet, maintaining an RQS of 195.425. The Nittany Lions are led by fourth-year head coach Jeff Thompson.
Temple is coming off a win in a quad meet at Towson, recording a score of 192.325. The Owls uphold a 189.195 RQS mark. Head coach Aaron Murphy is in his eighth season at the helm of the program.
Ursinus posted a fourth-place mark of 183.775 its last time out also at Towson. The team holds an RQS score of 182.185. Head coach Jeff Schepers is in his 14th year with the Bears.
HEAD COACH LOUIS LEVINE Q&A
On gaining a quick start to the meet: “Hopefully it helps that we are starting on vault this weekend. You have to get up, be ready to go and you have got to hit routines. There is no secret to it. We just have to get everybody working in the same direction right away. The capabilities are there – it is not like the girls don’t have the capability – it’s just we haven’t quite put it all together out on the floor since the beginning of the season. Now is the time as we go down the stretch here, we have to start putting it more together than we have.”
On the team’s energy in practice: “I actually think practice has been better, especially the last week. I saw a little better confidence in the girls with day-to-day practices. They are really helping to push each other along on those days when maybe they’re not feeling great and they are a little bit sore. Their teammates are there picking them up. That is what we have been going for and there has been an improvement on that for sure.
On the depth of the squad: “We have used every bit of depth that we have. We have used probably 10 to 11 different vaulters this year. There have been some injuries and people have had to step up. I feel the people who have stepped up have done a really great job. Part of the sport, unfortunately, is that you are going to have to deal with injuries. I think we have done a decent job of dealing with those injuries and hopefully we may get some of those girls back this week. This is the weekend that we start to turn things around after a few down weekends.”
On returning home for the Alumni Meet: “It is always great to have the alumni back in town. We are expecting a pretty big turnout of alumni. This is usually one of our better meets of the year. The energy level is extremely high. It is big-time Big Ten competition coming in, along with strong teams in Temple and Ursinus. We’re going to have to bring our “A” game if we are going to be where we want to be with a win at the end of the day.”
On facing future Big Ten opponent: “It is a [benchmark], but it is not about the Big Ten, it’s not about the Pac-12, it’s not about the SEC, it’s about getting out there and putting up a W. Obviously, the level at those school’s tend to be a little bit higher in their gymnastics and the scores they are putting up. We’ve just got to be able to go out there and do our job. Whatever they do, they do, and it doesn’t really have any impact on what we do. We have to get out there and hit our routines and if we hit our routines the rest of it will take care of itself.”
On being 10-1 for the second time in history: ”It is always great to win, nobody likes to lose. In the end, we can win every single meet and still not make NCAAs or we can lose every meet and make NCAAs. It really comes down hitting routines. A couple of pretty big competition coming in with Penn State and Central Michigan over the next couple of weeks. If we can match them step-for-step, we will be in a pretty good place. If we do our job, it doesn’t matter what they do. If we come away with a win, but we score a 193, it’s not going to help us towards what our ultimate goals are.”
INTERVIEW WITH TASIA HALBIG