MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (April 6, 2013) – Junior Luisa Leal (Cali, Colombia) recorded a 39.175 all-around score to lead four individuals representing Rutgers gymnastics at the NCAA Regionals Saturday at the University of West Virginia. The four qualifiers are the most for the Scarlet Knights since having five in 2004, with all expected to return to the roster in 2014.
“We showed that we belonged here tonight,” head coach Louis Levine said. “I thought we went out there and did our best, people were impressed. Luisa was a small step away from making the NCAA Championships, only fractions of a point off. Last year we just had just one individual here and this year we brought four girls. Next year our goal from the outset is to bring the whole team to his meet and we plan on working as hard as possible to do that. It just comes down to staying healthy and finding our groove a little bit earlier in the season.”
Competing at the regional level for the second time in her career, Leal finished in a tie for sixth amongst 17 all-arounders. The EAGL Team MVP scored best on uneven bars with a 9.850, which was tied for fourth out of 42 competitors. She also shined on both the floor exercise and the vault with scores of 9.825, as the floor mark was tied for seventh out of 42 performances. Leal also had a 9.675 to round out the total of 39.175.
Leal narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships as an all-arounder, falling just 0.025 behind the second place finisher.
Junior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.) competed all-around for the second straight year at the NCAA Regionals, registering a 38.400. She did best on the uneven bars with a 9.825 and added in a 9.775 on the vault.
Freshmen Jenna Williams (Bordentown, N.J.) and Claudia Salinas (Allendale, N.J.) both ended their rookie season gaining valuable experience on the big stage. Williams marked a 9.750 on the uneven bars, while Salinas had a 9.125 on the balance beam.
“Coming to this meet is different from any other all season, with members of the team spread out to different spots,” Levine said. “It is really a challenge and a testament to the team to come out and do a great job tonight.”