PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 13, 2014) – Rutgers gymnastics closes its regular season on the road, traveling to William & Mary for a quad meet on Friday that will also include North Carolina and Brown. The meet is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Kaplan Arena.
RUTGERS MEET PREVIEW
In front of a sold-out crowd last Saturday, Rutgers (17-2, 4-0 EAGL) recorded a program-best 196.225 to take first in a five-team meet on Senior Day. RU’s win total is the second-best mark in program history behind the 2011 squad’s 20-8 record. The team stands undefeated in the EAGL for the first time in school history, as it will face conference foe North Carolina this weekend.
Adding to the historical performance, the Scarlet Knights recorded a program-high 39.325 on the floor exercise. Senior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.) added a career-high 9.900 in the event, while maintaining a national all-around rank of No. 28. Freshman Claire Jones (Gaffney, S.C.) posted a career-best floor score of 9.900, earning EAGL Rookie of the Week honors for the second-straight week. That marked the seventh weekly honor for Rutgers this season.
With an RQS of 195.200, Rutgers ranks No. 32 nationally to remain in contention for NCAA Regionals. The top 36 teams will qualify. The Scarlet Knights have knocked off three ranked teams in head-to-head competition this season, defeating No. 17 CMU in their last time facing a nationally ranked squad.
Friday’s meet will mark the second meeting between Rutgers and both William & Mary and Brown this season. RU notched head-to-head victories over both in the first two match-ups.
30. New Hampshire: 195.295
31. UC Davis: 195.205
32. Rutgers: 195.200
33. Washington: 195.030
34. Maryland: 194.860
35. Missouri: 194.745
35. Utah State: 194.745
35. West Virginia: 194.745
38. Iowa: 194.735
HEAD COACH LOUIS LEVINE Q&A
On the team’s record-breaking performance: “It is just the next step in the process we have been pushing for. It’s all about the small things and the small things were better last week. The scores are going to vary a little bit from week to week, but if we are putting the performances the way we have, the scores will remain in the same area. The last two meets were pretty similar competitions for us and it was a step up in the consistency of the routines. We are going to try to continue to do that as we come down to the end here. We have this last meet and then conference championships and then, hopefully, NCAA Regionals. We will keep trying to be more consistent and a little bit closer to perfection.”
On support from the sold-out crowd: “I think it goes both ways. The girls work to get the crowd going and the crowd works to get us going. It kind of played back and forth off of one another. It is always great to be at home in front of your crowd. When you put up an upset like that over Central Michigan and you put up a record breaking score, it all plays a role. Some girls feed off the energy, others block it out. It all depends on the individual, but overall it keeps the whole team energized throughout the meet.”
On the talent in floor exercise: “The basics of floor lead to beam, bars and vault also. Even when you are not on that event, you still working on things that will help you in that event. Our girls just get excited and they like to perform. You are the center of attention in that moment and you can show a little bit of who you are – your personality can come out. The girls strive for that and the team gets into it.”
On the consistency of balance beam: “Lots of numbers and growing confidence. The thing that we struggled with at the beginning of the season was the confidence aspect of it. I can see the difference in competitions in their demeanor and the way they carry themselves. That translates into better routines, which translates into better scores. It’s been a big step up. We talked at the beginning of the year how we thought we could be a good 49.000 beam team and for the last three weeks we have been able to do that.”
On the team’s confidence moving towards EAGL championships: “This weekend goes a long way to show the team that it is not just talk from the coaches. They believe that we can go in there and we can compete, showing we are a great team. If we do our job, we will be right there fighting for that top spot.”
On remaining in contention for Regionals: “I’m going to steal Allie Ivol’s quote from her senior interview, ‘controlling the controllables.’ We can only control what we do. We have to go out there and hit our routines. Whatever happens, happens. We can’t control what Alabama is scoring in Alabama and we can’t control what UCLA is scoring at UCLA. Whatever is going on at other places doesn’t matter, we just have to do what we need to do and I think we will be okay.”
INTERVIEW WITH SOPHOMORE DANIELLE VERDON