“The Devil went down to Georgia” ... you probably know the rest. Belle Huang bears no resemblance to the demon, but put on quite a show to represent New Jersey even better than the Garden State’s legendary unofficial mascot. During her floor exercise routine Friday in the Athens regional, the sophomore registered a 9.900. Only one other time has a Scarlet Knight gymnast reached that score in an NCAA regional or championship event.
A season ago, Huang earned a trip to regionals in the all-around, but this time was the floor exercise only. She was the lone Scarlet Knight athlete at the NCAA Athens regional, but had plenty of support. It was a bittersweet ending though for Huang and the team as a whole because her strong performance was still just shy of qualifying for the nationals in Fort Worth, Texas next week.
Per RU athletics who had to clarify, Huang lost out on advancing on the slimmest of tiebreakers. The newer NCAA championship format takes only the top individual event score from a non-advancing team to the National Championship. Sidney Dukes from Kentucky tallied a 9.9 just like Belle, but the single tiebreaker was who the head judge specifically awarded a higher score. The head judge awarded a 9.950 on Dukes’s routine though at least one other judge was below a 9.9 to have averaged to a 9.900. Belle earned a 9.900 from all four judges, but in this case being consistent was actually be a detriment.
Regardless, it was a great season for Huang who really turned it on late in the season on floor exercise to reach the regionals. She improved on all her events from her freshman campaign, serving as the team’s closer on floor and balance beam at different times. Hopefully she can continue to get better as a key member of the lineup in all four events heading into 2020.
Stick with us at on the banks for the gymnastics season recap in the coming weeks and a review of Coach Salim-Beasley’s first year as the program’s head coach.
NOTE: For those real gymnastics die hards who are above the age of about 30, you probably recall during the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia, American phenom Dominique Moceanu used “The Devil went down to Georgia” in her floor exercise routine.