PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Jan. 16, 2014) – Coming off a 195.075 in its opening meet, No. 16 Rutgers gymnastics will hit the road for the first time to compete at No. 21 Kent State Friday at 7 p.m. and at No. 19 Ohio State Sunday at 2 p.m. The meet at KSU will also feature George Washington and Eastern Michigan.
“This is a short week, but we prepared how we normally do,” head coach Louis Levine said. “The two hosts are two of the top teams in the country and we are going in there ranked a little bit ahead of both of them, knowing they are going to want take us down. We have to go in there ready to fight for every tenth and hit our routines.”
RUTGERS MEET PREVIEW
The team score of 195.075 last Saturday was the highest in program history in an opening meet and fifth-best overall, beating conference opponent New Hampshire. That mark ranks first amongst teams in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) through week one. The Scarlet Knights are also in the top 25 in three events, being 14th on balance beam (48.725), tied for 14th on floor exercise (48.950) and tied for 24th on vault (48.800).
“I think it was important how we started out on vault,” Levine said of the strengths of the opening meet. “That was the precursor to having a really great meet. I also thought we took a big step up in our presentation on beam from last year. Our performance over there was really good and has the potential to be a lead event for us this year.”
Redshirt junior Luisa Leal (Cali, Colombia) led the way all-around, scoring a 39.225 in the meet to rank No. 16 in the nation. Her high score of 9.900 on the floor exercise ranks her ninth nationally out of 428 gymnasts. Freshman April Baker (Andover, Mass.) also put up high scores to earn EAGL Rookie of the Week. She earned top-two finishes on vault (9.825) and floor exercise (9.825) in her collegiate debut.
“I think there are little things to get better at everywhere,” Levine said of improvements. “You want to stick more landings for your dismounts, hit better handstands on bars and work on some of the balance checks on beam and on floor to keep performing better. Coming with a 195 for your first meet, there is a lot of really good, but there is definitely a lot of improvement that we still have to go.”
The meets this weekend will be the first this season on the road for RU. The Scarlet Knights traveled to Kent State last season and posted a 193.700, and last competed at Ohio State in 1998.
“Road meets are something that will be a little bit of an adjustment,” Levine said. “It is nice when you start at home with a decent size crowd because it does help bring that energy. Starting off on vault, we got energy and carried it through the whole way. We won’t be starting on vault this weekend, so it is going to be the team’s responsibility to bring their own energy and push through.
“It is the first two away meets and in the past we put up scores just as good on the road as we have at home. We are just going to try to continue to keep that trend going.”
RU will follow the rotation of floor, vault, bars and beam Friday and bars, vault, floor and beam Sunday.