COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jan. 19, 2014) – Finishing a two-meet road trip to Ohio, No. 16 Rutgers gymnastics continued its early-season momentum by defeating future conference-opponent No. 19 Ohio State, 195.275-194.775, Sunday at St. John Arena. It was the first win in RU program history over a Big Ten opponent.
“We have continued to hit routine after routine and are showing people that we belong,” third-year head coach Louis Levine said. “It has been three meets and we haven’t counted a fall, and I see our confidence growing each time out. We have taken down two top-25 teams, which is a step in the right direction, but we feel like we haven’t reached our full potential yet.”
The Scarlet Knights improved to 5-0 for the third time in school history, matching the starts in 1978 and 1994, with the fourth-best team score in the school record books. RU started with a 48.700 on uneven bars before scoring a 48.875 on vault. Floor exercise was the highest of the day with a 49.000, as the team finished on balance beam with a 48.700.
Competing all-around once again, both redshirt junior Luisa Leal (Cali, Colombia) and senior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.) captured the top two spots in the meet. Leal (first) recorded a 39.250, followed closely by Gunzelman with a 39.075. Leal finished at least tied for second in three events.
On the uneven bars to start, Leal tied for second in the meet with a score of 9.825. Gunzelman tied her season-high with a score of 9.775.
Next on vault, RU posted a season-high score of 48.875. The score tied the third-best in program history, with all that competed in the event scoring at least a 9.700. Leal led the team with a 9.850, while Gunzelman, freshman Claire Jones (Gaffney, S.C.), and junior Sara Skammer (Dallas, Pa.) each notched a 9.775.
The Scarlet Knights next took on the floor exercise, recording a season-high 49.000. For the second time in the meet, all competitors for RU scored at least a 9.700. Leal continued strong on floor posting a 9.925 to tie for first. Sophomore Katie Stebick (Waterford, Pa.), Gunzelman and Jones all notched a 9.775. Freshman Charly Santagado (Celebration, Fla.) steadily improved her score with a career-high 9.750. Sophomore Danielle Verdon (Freehold, N.J.) made her season debut, notching a 9.700.
RU closed the meet on the balance beam for the second-straight meet. Junior Jenna Williams (Bordentown, N.J.) tied the meet-high with a 9.850, while senior Jenna Zito (Rockaway, N.J.) tied her career-high with a 9.775 to seal the victory.
The win closed out a success weekend trip to Ohio, as RU beat No. 21 Kent State and two other opponents Friday night as well.
“Having three meets over 195 to start the season is a nice accomplishment,” Levine said. “However, we know that we still can improve and do better. We are beginning to touch the surface of where we can be this year. Everyone is excited and confident that we have the ability to beat whoever we go against.”
Rutgers will next return home to face Brown at the Livingston Recreation Center Friday at 6:30 p.m. This will be the fourth year in-a-row that the Bears travel to Piscataway.