PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Feb. 22, 2014) – Competing in front of a record crowd of 1,172 at the Livingston Recreation Center, Rutgers gymnastics recorded a 194.575 team score Saturday night to place second in a home quad meet. The Scarlet Knights ended the meet with season-high scores on both the balance beam (49.000) and the floor exercise (49.150).
Penn State won the meet with a 195.825 mark, followed by RU, Temple (191.950) and Ursinus (184.825).
“Alumni Night is always a great experience,” head coach Louis Levine said. “The energy level was through the roof tonight and it is always special to have the alums here. They have been a part of this and they’re still a part of this. Without them, we can’t keep going. Between our alumni and the girls today, I thought it was a great, really fun time out there.”
Senior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.) highlighted the night with a career-high 39.400 all-around score, the second-highest mark in school history. In addition to winning the all-around, she finished first in the meet on both the balance beam (9.875) and the floor exercise (9.900).
As usual at home, the Scarlet Knights began the night on the vault and totaled a 48.775. Junior Sara Skammer (Dallas, Pa.) led RU with a career-high 9.850 to place in a tie for third, with Gunzelman following closely behind at 9.800. Both senior Alyssa Straub (Nazareth, Pa.) and sophomore Nicolette Wilson (Toms River, N.J.) earned a 9.750.
On the uneven bars, Gunzelman notched a 9.825 on her routine to place third in the meet out of 24 competitors. Freshman Charly Santagado (Celebration, Fla.) also had a strong performance at 9.775, as RU recorded a 47.650 as a team.
Rutgers came alive in the third rotation on the balance with a season-high 49.000, ranking fourth-highest in school history. Led by Gunzelman’s first-place and career-high 9.875, all six Scarlet Knights went for at least 9.750. Sophomore Jenna Williams (Bordentown, N.J.) placed in a tie for third at 9.800, with junior Tasia Halbig (Schwenksville, Pa.) (9.775), freshman Claire Jones (Gaffney, S.C.) (9.775), sophomore Claudia Salinas (Allendale, N.J.) (9.775) and Straub (9.750) all contributing to the performance.
“We have been struggling on a beam a little bit so to get out there and hit what turned out to be seven for seven with the exhibition was an important step,” Levine said. “Anytime you can put up a season-high it’s great. We just have to put it all together in these last few meets and everything will be good.”
All six Scarlet Knights scored at least a 9.725 on the floor exercise to finish the night with a 49.150 rotation. Gunzelman tied her career high at 9.900 to lead the way, as Jones (9.850), Santagado (9.850) and Skammer (9.800) also had a career-high routine. Sophomore Danielle Verdon (Freehold, N.J.) had a season-best 9.725, with sophomore Katie Stebick (Waterford, N.J.) ending the night with a 9.750 as the last competitor.
Rutgers moves to 12-2 in head-to-head competition this season following the meet, its eighth of the season.
The Scarlet Knights will return to the road next for the fourth time in five weeks, traveling to New York to take on Cornell. The meet will take Saturday, March 1 at 2 p.m.