ATHENS, Ga. (April 5, 2014) – Rutgers gymnastics posted a program-high NCAA Regionals score of 193.750 Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum on the campus of the University of Georgia. Senior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.) highlighted the performance with a 39.175 all-around score to qualify for NCAA Nationals in Birmingham, Ala., in two weeks.
The Scarlet Knights finished sixth in the meet. Michigan (196.750) and Georgia (196.375) claimed the top two spots, earning berths to the NCAA Nationals competition as teams. Central Michigan (195.600) came in third, followed by Ohio State (195.100), NC State (194.550) and Rutgers. RU recorded its highest event score on vault (48.800), followed by floor (48.775), beam (48.325) and bars (47.850).
“Overall, I thought we performed really well,” said head coach Louis Levine. “We struggled a little bit on the last event, but before that we were performing as well as we have been all year. The judging is a little harder at a national level competition, but we did a great job. It has been a great season, but it is not over. We still have one more meet to go.”
Gunzelman’s all-around score tied for second amongst 14 competitors, automatically putting her to the next level. She is only the second Scarlet Knight to reach Nationals, joining Courtney Turner (2002).
“Alexis is the best all-arounder Rutgers has ever had,” said Levine. “At this point in time, she is now the most decorated all-arounder in our program’s history. This year she has been consistent. Week-in and week-out, she has put up good scores. Today wasn’t spectacular, but she did what she had to do. We are excited and this is another step forward for our program.”
Starting off the meet on beam, Rutgers recorded a team score of 48.325. Gunzelman led RU with a score of 9.775, tying for ninth. Sophomore Anastasia Halbig (Schwenksville, Pa.) followed with a 9.725, as senior Alyssa Straub (Nazareth, Pa.) next recorded a 9.650. Claudia Salinas (Allendale, N.J.), Jenna Williams (Bordentown, N.J.), and Claire Jones (Gaffney, S.C.) completed the lineup.
The Scarlet Knights picked up the momentum moving on to floor. Freshman Charly Santagado (Celebration, Fla.) and Gunzelman both notched a 9.800 to lead the Scarlet Knights in the event. Jones posted a 9.775, followed by junior Sara Skammer (Dallas, Pa.) and sophomore Danielle Verdon (Freehold, N.J.) with a 9.700 each. Sophomore Katie Stebick (Waterford, Pa.) wrapped up the group. The team total came in at 48.775.
RU had its best showing on vault, recording a score of 48.800 in the event. Redshirt junior Luisa Leal (Cali, Colombia) and Gunzelman led RU with a score of 9.800 apiece, tying for 12th in the meet. Skammer notched a 9.775, while Nicolette Wilson (Toms River, N.J.) posted a 9.725 to add to the total. Straub and Jones both added a score of 9.700.
Closing out the night on bars, the Scarlet Knights had a team mark of 47.850. Leal and Gunzelman tied for 13th in the event with a score of 9.800. Halbig posted a 9.750, while Santagado, Hoffman and Skammer concluded the meet for RU.
“I am very proud of this team and I don’t use that word too often,” said Levine. “I am really proud of how we’ve done this year. We took the step forward that we have been building up for. This isn’t the end for us, this is just the beginning. We will keep pushing and we will keep getting better and better.”
Gunzelman will continue her career April 18 with the NCAA Nationals in Birmingham, Ala., as an all-arounder. She will be looking to advance to the national finals April 20.