PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Hosting the 2017 Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships in front of 4,081 fans at the RAC, both senior Claire Jones and junior Makenzey Shank earned a spot on the All-Championships Team Saturday. The Scarlet Knights picked up a 194.700 to top Maryland (193.625), while Michigan State (195.200) took first and Minnesota (195.175) followed in second in the session.
Michigan claimed the title with a 197.300 in the evening session. Illinois placed second at 196.875
The competition was staged up on a podium for the first time in the history of the meet, which dates back to 1982. Rutgers last hosted a conference championship in 2006 when the EAGL Championships came to town. The crowd of 4,081 marked the most ever to witness a Rutgers gymnastics home meet.
"We didn't give anything big away today," head coach Louis Levine said. "I thought we put together a solid performance. A little more this way or that way, we might have won this session. We fought all the way to the end and I'm really happy with the girls.
"Anytime you get to compete at home and host a championships, it's exciting. It was a great experience for everyone involved. Hosting this was an all hands on deck effort and I'm thankful for all who helped to put this on."
The team score marked the eighth time in 2017 that the Scarlet Knights reached 194 territory.
RU performed best in the first rotation on floor exercise with a 48.900. Sophomore Riahanah Ali led the way with a 9.850, as Jones anchored to a 9.800 routine. Shank (9.775), junior Libby Groden (9.750) and sophomore Jenna Rizkalla (9.725) all factored into the team score.
In her final home outing, Jones vaulted to a season-high 9.875 to tie for first in the event and knotted for third overall. Freshman Erin McLachlan put up a 9.800 to follow and Groden contributed a 9.700 to the team's 48.675.
In the third rotation, the Scarlet Knights moved to uneven bars and recorded a 48.500. Groden swung to a 9.800 for her highest mark of the day. Next up, Shank had her third score of at least 9.775 with that number and sophomore Michelle Amoresanocame through at 9.700.
Balance beam completed the day at 48.625 paced by Shank's 9.850, which tied for first in the session and was her fifth score of at least that mark this season. Jones went for a 9.775 for her third high number, while senior April Baker closed out her home career at 9.725. Groden, a Second Team All-Big Ten selection, added a 9.700 and totaled a 38.950 all-around. Amoresano collected a 37.625 across the four events.
Individual bids to the NCAA Regionals will be announced in the coming days.