We previously reported that Rutgers had two gymnasts who qualified for the regionals, but now it’s thrice as nice. Freshman Belle Huang was informed this week that she would get an opportunity as well, having previously missed the initial qualifying by one spot. Of course injuries are a huge part of gymnastics and now Belle will join No. 5 Florida in their rotation, which means she gets to finish the day on her bread and butter, the balance beam. As a high school senior in 2017, at the Junior Olympic Nationals held in Indianapolis, Huang won the junior National Championship in the event.
The neophyte ended the 2018 campaign with a 38.810 all-around Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) then bested that with a 39.025 at Big Ten Championships where she finished the early session in third place overall. It was the highest score by a Scarlet Knight in four trips to the Big Ten championships surpassing Libby Groden’s previous program record for the current conference affiliation.
Speaking of Groden, she has had another two weeks to prepare for her fourth NCAA regional ( a school record that could be tied but never be broken). The 2018 AAI award semi-finalist put up her best two all-around scores of the season the last two times out with a 38.950 at the Big Five and then a 38.900 at the Big Ten Championships. Last year at the West Virginia regional, Libby scored a 39.050 which will be tough to match. Hopefully she saved her best for last in an illustrious career.
Mackenzey Shank gets just one event, the balance beam, to show what she can do. A season ago, she was a balance beam alternate at the Regional but did not get a chance to participate. “Micki” got more consistent as the season progressed, especially after she tied the school record (9.925) in the event on Feb 24, earning her the Big Ten specialist of the week. It marked the first time a Scarlet Knight earned that distinction in the four years RU has been in the conference. Being able to focus on just one event the last two weeks will hopefully bring out the best in the senior.
Toni Williams is a vault alternate as well, but likely time has run out on the freshman getting the call. Even if she doesn’t, Williams has three more years of eligibility to earn a trip.
Good luck ladies!