Happy delayed New Year to you and your family! And to the Rutgers gymnastics family too, as the team back handsprings into action for the first time in 2018 on
January 6 January 13. Yes that strikethrough was on purpose after the Scarlet Knights of the uneven bars, floor exercise, balance beam, and vault had their opening event postponed a week due to inclement travel conditions. On Saturday, the team opens the campaign by hosting conference foe Illinois, Yale, and Southern Connecticut at Livingston gym.
Seniors Libby Groden and Makenzey Shank were both selected as Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch and the most recognizable names on the team. Shank led the team in RQS on uneven bars and balance beam. She tied for first at the Big Ten championships on beam and looks to return to the All-Championships Team in 2018. Groden is a three-time NCAA Regional qualifier, consistent in all four events with peaking above 9.800 in beam and floor exercise a season ago. Jenna Rizkalla was even more impressive on floor as she returns for her junior year after she led the team with a 9.825 as a sophomore. Last but not least on vault, junior Michelle Amoresano and sophomore Erin McLachlan return after leading the team in that event in 2017.
Eleven letterwinners return and internal competition is fierce. Now in his seventh season at the helm, Coach Louis Levine mentioned earlier in the week that eight different girls were still battling it out to see who represents the Knights on the bars. He didn’t mention who the eight were, but the team’s official website had a nice preview of several potential contributors. The team last reached the NCAA regionals in 2014, and looks to qualify for the first time as a member of the Big Ten.
Doors open at noon and the first 500 fans, many loud ones, will receive a season t-shirt. This is no joke as the squad had the longest sellout streak of any RU sports team last year. Initial rotation is as follows: RU on vault, Illinois on uneven bars, Yale on beam, and Southern Connecticut performing their floor exercise. So do some stretching, chalk up those hands, and bring your best smile as RU literally vaults into the 2018 season!