PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 16, 2014) – Senior Alexis Gunzelman (Tabernacle, N.J.) is set to compete as an individual all-arounder at the NCAA Nationals in Birmingham, Ala., at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. She will take the national stage Friday in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. ET.
“Having an individual make Nationals puts us out there,” head coach Louis Levine said. “It lets everyone see what Rutgers gymnastics is about. We get the advantage to put our best out there for everybody to see.”
At the NCAA Regionals April 4 at the University of Georgia, Gunzelman recorded an all-around score of 39.175 to place tied for second amongst 14 competitors. She stands as only the second Scarlet Knight in program history to qualify for Nationals and the first all-around. Courtney Turner advanced to the highest level on floor exercise in 2002.
“Alexis is the best all-arounder in program history; the numbers say it,” Levine said. “She has been great and she has learned so much. She came in as a really talented gymnast and is leaving as a great all-around gymnast. It sounds like there is not that big a difference, but there is. She learned to compete, to be a leader, and has been exactly what we want the program to be about. Alexis went from being someone who may have been a little overlooked to someone who is now competing at NCAA Championships.”
With the trip to Nationals, Gunzelman continues to add to her remarkable career “On the Banks.” The senior recorded a career-high all-around score of 39.400 March 8, moving her to second overall in the record books. She also posted personal-bests on vault (9.825), beam (9.875) and floor (9.900).
In addition to a tremendous season, the senior was named the 2014 East Atlantic Gymnastic Team MVP for the third time in her career. She also earned All-EAGL First Team honors in all five events, along with being named to the All-Academic team.
Gunzelman has made three-consecutive appearances at the Regionals level, twice as an individual and once with the team as a whole this season. Friday will mark the first Nationals appearance for the senior.
“We will approach practice like we have approached every meet,” Levine said. “In the end, the crowd will probably be a little bigger, but Alexis has the advantage of competing as an individual the past two years. She understands what it’s like and how it is to work with another team.”
At the meet, Gunzelman will follow the same rotation as Florida, one of the six competing teams in the session. The rotation will start on vault, followed by a bye, bars, beam, bye and floor to close.
“She has a great draw getting to start on vault and end on floor – it is just like a home meet,” Levine said. “She is rotating with Florida, the defending National Champions, so you can’t ask for a whole lot more. It sets up really well for her to have a really good meet and to go out there and hit 4-for-4.”
The top-four individuals in each event (plus ties) from Friday’s semifinals will compete in the individual event competition Sunday at 3 p.m.