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Rutgers Gymnastics defeats Cornell 194.825-193.000 in Regular Season Finale

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Knights head to Big Ten championships on the upswing.

FloSports: FloGymnastics Big Ten Championships
Next week, it’s on to this year’s Big Ten championships.
Catalina Fragoso (FLO)-USA TODAY Sports

The Rutgers Gymnastics team earned a Senior Night quad meet victory and second place quad meet finish at Ball State in a short window last weekend. The squad returned to action on St. Patrick’s Day at Cornell for the final tune up before the Big Ten championships next week in Happy Valley.

Uneven Bars

Rutgers was on bars to start things as a typical road team in a dual meet. Emily Drauss struggled with her dismount, but Belle Huang notched a 9.525 immediately after. Kaitlyn Hall achieved a 9.675 and Abigail Karolewski a 9.525. Michelle Amoresano erupted for a 9.825 just in case anyone thought the judges were being a bit too harsh. Shannon Farrell closed out the scoring with a 9.775.

Well that was much better than the interesting we saw last week, although not amazing by any means. Amoresano and Farrell finished 1-2 in the individual standings. The Scarlet Knights in recent weeks managed to move their average score on bars above that of balance beam despite a lack of elite performances. RU incredibly has had only eight gymnasts compete their scores on the uneven bars in 2019, plus Sage Littlejohn doing another exhibition. Only two are graduating, but before then, what will RU do on the apparatus at Penn State? Coach Salim-Beasley has plenty to think about heading into next weekend and even more so in the off season.

Vault

Rutgers actually began with Toni Williams to start things off, not Mia Betancourt. Williams and Belle Huang up second each earned 9.725. Next Michelle Amoresano crushed it (clip below) with a 9.800 for 2nd place individually on the apparatus. Jenna Rizkalla and Riahanah Ali scored 9.750 for their efforts. The anchor was Kaitlyn Hall who managed a 9.675 despite obviously favoring her healthy knee.

Coach Rosso’s group was solid all the way across. Even Sophia Atienza in the exhibition put up a 9.525 which Cornell really wished they had in their lineup. Rutgers outpaced the Big Red 48.750-47.650 in the vault itself and led by 1.425 points as a team at the turn.

Floor Exercise

The Scarlet Knights hit the backstretch on floor and for a second consecutive rotation showed no signs of cracking. Williams (9.750) edged Atienza (9.725) in the first two spots. Then Michelle Amoresano put forth a solid performance but earned a 0.100 deduction from one, but possibly not both the judges. It didn’t matter much because Rizkalla earned a 9.825, Ali a 9.775, and Huang closed it with a 9.875. Belle’s score was good for second individually on the day, see the highlight below:

Coach Rosso’s other group had put up 49+ as a team in four of the last six meets and though they barely missed it (48.950), put on a good show. Floor continues to be the team’s best event when they have everyone healthy and their best shot at any team recognition in the Big Ten championships. Sage Littlejohn did an exhibition and it will be interesting to see who can step up in the lineup to replace the super-consistent seniors, but that will wait at least another week.

Balance Beam

The Scarlet Knights closed the day on balance beam for the second Sunday in a row. They held a fairly sizable lead by gymnastics standards (2.075 points) and really just needed five clean routines of the six in the lineup. Kaitlyn Hall (9.600) and Mia Betancourt (9.575) weren’t their sharpest, though they reduced the magic number for RU. Rizkalla nailed a 9.725, Amoresano a 9.750, and Huang an amazing 9.900 to earn first place for herself and bury the hatchet on the home team. Kiera Doherty-Herwitz had a nice performance in the anchor spot (9.775), but the meet had already been clinched.

Despite the risk aversion, RU had the same score on beam as they did in vault. It was great to see six good scores and the team’s best lineup in tact heading into the Big Ten Championships. Sage Littlejohn did another exhibition to complete a busy day for her as well.

The Skinny

Getting another road win had to feel good. Rutgers had been consistent at home all year, but at times you didn’t know what you were going to get during a grueling winter season of travel. They seem to be pretty healthy as a group (knocking on wood), perhaps the healthiest they have been all year which is unusual in such a demanding sport like gymnastics. It’s hard to predict someone as a dark horse contender for an individual event title next week, but maybe Mia Betancourt puts it all together in an event to shock the conference next weekend.

Huang edged Amoresano in the all-around as the only two competitors so it will be interesting to see how many gymnasts show up on all four apparatus in Happy Valley next week. No matter what that number in, each of the young women has a chance to make noise in the all-around after one of them seemed to take the all-around in every meet down the stretch.

NEXT UP:

The Big Ten championships take place next Saturday, March 23 at Penn State.