PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 8, 2014) – In front of a sellout crowd on Senior Day, Rutgers gymnastics topped 196 for the first time in school history at 196.225 to win a five-team meet Saturday at the Livingston Recreation Center. The score breaks the previous program record of 195.975 set March 2, 2013 at home.
Rutgers also set a school record on the floor exercise at 49.325, picking up a 49.000 on balance beam, a 48.975 on vault and a 48.925 on the uneven bars. No. 17 Central Michigan followed the Scarlet Knights at 195.725, with Towson (191.675), Yale (191.575) and Southern Connecticut State (191.375) rounding out the scores. RU improved to 17-3 head-to-head for the season, with a 3-1 mark against ranked competition.
“It is a testament to this team,” head coach Louis Levine said regarding the record-breaking performance. “We talked about how we can put up scores like this and how we can be one of the best teams Rutgers has ever had. They went out and showed it today.”
Following the meet the program recognized its two senior student managers – Holly Murray (Harrisburg, Pa.) and Michael Rosso (Marlton, N.J.) – and four senior gymnasts – Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.), Allie Ivol (Woolwich Township, N.J.), Alyssa Straub (Nazareth, Pa.) and Jenna Zito (Rockaway, N.J.) – in a ceremony that included a video tribute. The group has been a part of nine of the top 11 scores in school history since the beginning of last season.
“We will miss them,” Levine said about the seniors. “What it comes down to is without them we are not who we are. We are not where we are. Their freshman year we probably would have been happy with a 193 and now that is a bad meet. That is how far we have come. I am going to miss the heck out of them, but it’s not over. We still have three or four meets left. With that we will get back in and see how much more history we can make.”
After a bye in the first rotation, redshirt junior Luisa Leal (Cali, Colombia) highlighted the RU performance on vault with a 9.875 as the anchor to tie for second. Seniors Gunzelman and Straub both notched a 9.825, while juniors Sara Skammer (Dallas, Pa.) (9.750) and Tasia Halbig (Schwenksville, Pa.) (9.700) helped contribute to the team total. Zito notched a 9.800 in an exhibition routine, a score that tied her career-best in the event.
The momentum continued on the uneven bars with all five counted scores going for at least 9.725. Gunzelman led the way with a 9.850 and junior Emma Hoffman (Union, N.J.) followed closely at 9.825. In addition, Leal had a 9.775, with Halbig (9.750) and Skammer (9.725) rounding out the scores. Ivol put up a 9.675 in an exhibition in her final her final home meet.
Reaching a 49.000 team total on the balance beam for the third-straight week, the Scarlet Knights had four routines over 9.800. Both Halbig and sophomore Claudia Salinas (Allendale, N.J.) scored a new career-high 9.875 in a three-way tie for first, with freshman Claire Jones (Gaffney, S.C.) recording a 9.850 and sophomore Jenna Williams (Bordentown, N.J.) a 9.800. Zito had a 9.600 in an exhibition, as the team score tied for the third highest in the school record books.
The floor exercise brought the sellout crowd to its feet with a school-record 49.325. Gunzelman (tied) and Jones (set) anchored the event with a pair of career-best 9.900 scores, as freshman Charly Santagado (Celebration, Fla.) (9.875) and sophomores Danielle Verdon (Freehold, N.J.) (9.825) and Katie Stebick (Waterford, Pa.) (9.825) added to the team and event record-breaking performance. Skammer tied her career-best mark at 9.800 to make it a perfect 6-for-6 hitting the routine on floor.
Gunzelman went all-around once again and had a 38.700 to finish second out of seven competitors.
“It was another great crowd today,” Levine said. “The girls get into the crowd getting into it. They try to play off each other a little bit. It always helps. You get to the end of the meet and you’re a little bit tired, but the crowd helps bring your energy back up and that adrenaline gets going again. Our girls love to perform and that is what they did.”
The Scarlet Knights will look to continue the momentum with its final meet before the EAGL Championships at William & Mary Friday, March 14. The meet will also include North Carolina and Brown.
Top Scores in School History
196.225 – March 8, 2014
195.975 - March 2, 2013
195.825 - March 1, 2014*
195.500 - March 8, 2013*
195.400 - Feb. 26, 2000
195.275 - Jan. 19, 2014*
195.250 - Jan. 17, 2014*
195.125 - March 1, 2000
195.075 - Jan. 11, 2014
195.050 - Feb. 17, 2013*
195.000 - Feb. 2, 2013
* - road meet