PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 6, 2014) – Returning home for the final time in 2014, Rutgers gymnastics will host a five-team meet at the Livingston Recreation Center Saturday at 1 p.m. for Senior Day. The meet will also include No. 17 Central Michigan, Southern Connecticut State, Towson and Yale. As announced earlier this week, the event is soldout with no walk-up tickets available at the door.
· Meet Theme: Senior Day
· Girl Scout Meet· Raffle Item: Nike Sports Watch
· Poster distribution
· Post-meet autograph sessions
· 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)
Following the meet, the program will honor its senior class with a video presentation and a ceremony. This year’s honorees are managers Micheal Rosso (Marlboro, N.J.) and Holly Murray (Harrisburg, Pa.), with gymnasts Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.), Allie Ivol (Woolwich Township, N.J.), Alyssa Straub (Nazareth, Pa.) and Jenna Zito (Rockaway, N.J.).
RUTGERS MEET PREVIEW
Most recently, Rutgers (13-2) tallied a season-best 195.825 at Cornell on March 1. It was the second-best mark in school history and highest ever on the road. The Scarlet Knights notched a season high 49.100 on the balance beam, followed by a 49.075 on vault and a 48.825 on both uneven bars and floor exercise.
Gunzelman scored a 39.350 all-around to lead the way, as she is tied for No. 23 nationally with a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 39.200. Picking up honors from the conference, sophomore Jenna Williams (Bordentown, N.J.) (Specialist) and freshman Claire Jones (Gaffney, S.C.) (Rookie) both earned EAGL weekly awards for scoring a 9.875 on the balance beam.
With three meets remaining on the schedule, the Scarlet Knights sit at No. 32 with an RQS of 194.935. The top 36 teams qualify for NCAA Regionals. No. 17 Central Michigan will be the fourth ranked team RU has competed against, going 2-1 so far.
30. UC Davis: 195.090
31. Washington: 194.955
32. Rutgers: 194.935
33. Iowa: 194.735
34. Missouri: 194.650
35. Utah State: 194.530
36. West Virginia: 194.465
37. Pittsburgh: 194.395
38. Bowling Green: 194.355
HEAD COACH LOUIS LEVINE Q&A
On if last week’s meet was a complete meet: “Yes and no. It’s still not a complete meet since we left some tenths here and some tenths there, we could still do better. We know that no matter what lineup we put out there, no matter who is up for the event, that they can score well as long as they hit routines. That is what we did, we hit routines.”
On the team’s mental toughness: “I think we’ve been through a lot this year. We had injuries with players in and out of the lineup. Even last weekend, we made some adjustments in warm-ups with the lineup. It does take some absolute mental strength to be able to handle that and obviously they’ve handled it really well.”
On Jenna and Claire earning weekly honors: “They rocked beam routines. Between the two of them and Alexis (Gunzelman), they all went 9.875, and that’s great. I think that is the first time we’ve won two weekly awards at the same time and it’s well deserved. We will continue to try and improve. We’ll go for the three 9.9’s this week instead of three 9.875’s. We’re taking that step forward that we’ve been talking about.”
On the program getting recognition throughout the country: “I try not to get too caught up in the awards but we’re putting out the performances that are forcing people to notice who we are. There’s a little chip on our shoulder. We thought that coming into the season we could compete for the championship. When your peers don’t necessarily vote you that way, when you’re voted towards the bottom of the conference rather than the top of the conference, you use that as extra motivation to push forward.”
On contributions from the seniors: “I don’t know if I can put into words what their contribution has been. They’ve been here through it all. Obviously with Jena Zito, she’s been our team captain for what seems like forever now and she lucks out because she gets to have two senior meets. Alyssa, Allie and Alexis, they’ve all meant so much and they’ve been in lineups since their freshman year and whether it’s pushing their teammates or pushing themselves to get better, they’ve all fought and taught a lot of their teammates what it means to be a Rutgers gymnast. Their legacy will live on well after they’ve graduated.”
On the next meet being a sellout: “It’s great. It will be two weeks in a row that we can’t fit any more people in the building. It shows how much the community supports us. To announce that we will be selling out is a big step for our program. It’s an exciting thing and the hope is that we can continue to do that on an every home week basis. With moving into the Big Ten, the expectation is that we’re going to be a hot ticket. There will be a lot of energy in the gym this weekend and our girls feed off of that. Hopefully we can use that with our momentum from last week to put up a record-breaking score Saturday.”
INTERVIEW WITH FRESHMAN CLAIRE JONES