PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 20, 2014) – After 11 regular season meets, Rutgers gymnastics is set to compete in the highly-anticipated East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championships Saturday at 2 p.m. on the campus of the University of New Hampshire. The Scarlet Knights enter the meet ranked third in the conference with a 195.200 regional qualifying score (RQS), just behind New Hampshire (195.720) and NC State (195.615).
The eight-team EAGL is comprised of George Washington, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Towson.
RUTGERS MEET PREVIEW
The Scarlet Knights (17-5, 4-1 EAGL) have put up five of the top nine scores in program history this season, including a record 196.225 two weeks ago on Senior Day at the Livingston Recreation Center. RU also set a new road high of 195.825 March 1 at Cornell. The team broke the event record scores on vault (49.200) and floor exercise (49.325) this year.
Last season, Rutgers scored a 193.925 at the EAGL Championships at the University of North Carolina, the program’s best mark at the meet. The team had the best score of the eight teams on the uneven bars at 48.900. The Scarlet Knights’ best finish at the EAGLs was fifth in 2011. This year RU will start on a bye and begin on the floor exercise in the second rotation.
Also on the line this weekend is a berth at the NCAA Regionals. Rutgers is currently No. 33 nationally with its 195.200 RQS, needing to finish in the top 36 to qualify.
32. Utah State 195.250
33. Rutgers 195.200
34. Washington 195.100
35. Maryland 195.010
36. West Virginia 195.000
37. Iowa 194.935
38. Michigan State 194.745
38. Missouri 194.745
Individually, six different Scarlet Knights were named All-EAGL this week, led by five accolades for senior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.). Click here to view the full release.
HEAD COACH LOUIS LEVINE Q&A
On 12 gymnasts recognized on the All-Scholastic Team: “We stress the academic side with our kids and the fact that two-thirds of our team made the All-Scholastic Team is a great thing. They are what they say; they are student-athletes. I know there are all conversations about what that really means, but in gymnastics being a student does come first. We take pride in making All-Scholastic Team, as well as All-America honors. It is something we are really proud of.”
On setting the program-best team score: “The talent level gets higher every year and the ability to score those top scores is there. We did it five times this year and we broke records last year too. That was one of the goals this season, to break records. We knew we could go higher and we know we can go higher than what we have gone so far. We have an opportunity to do that this week and hopefully bring home a conference championship. We have to go out there and put out our best performance, that is really what it is all about.”
On the team’s record-breaking season: “I think that motivates the team. They understand it. They talked about it the day we beat Central Michigan, how it was great that we broke that 196 barrier, but it still wasn’t our best meet. There were things here and there that could be done better and hopefully we go out there and we do pull out that peak performance. We will keep striving to get better and better. With gymnastics it really is about being perfect and we haven’t gotten there yet. We haven’t scored a single 10 this year, which means we haven’t been perfect yet and there is still improvement to be made.”
On facing adversity: “You have to be able to take everything step-by-step. While last weekend was disappointing, it is in the past and there is nothing we can do about it. We move forward and if last week turns into the stepping stone for going out and winning a conference championship and moving on to NCAA Regionals, then it is worth it. You take those meets and you have to learn from them. We are still learning how to deal with adversity. We have done it well at times, but unfortunately last weekend we didn’t do quite so well. We will keep working at it and keep pushing forward.”
On team’s confidence going into the EAGL Championships: “They believe they can win, which is all you can really ask for going in. We have a team that is good enough to challenge any team in our conference on our best day and their best day. It is about going out and performing the way we are capable of.”
On the overall success this season: “There have been ups and there have been downs. We have had some rough losses, but we have had some great wins this year. Our goals were to come in and compete for a conference championship and to make NCAA Regionals. Right now, we are on the cusp of both of those. It all depends on how these next couple of weeks go. We have done a great job and have taken another step forward this year in the process of what kind of team we want to become. We will keep working from here.”