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Rutgers prepares for Big Five meet after falling to Maryland

 – Photo by The Daily Targum

As the Rutgers gymnastics team reaches the midpoint of its season, the clock is ticking for the Scarlet Knights to step up in a B1G way on the mat. Rutgers will head to Toledo, Ohio, to compete at the Big Five meet on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Huntington Center.

If the Big Five meet is anything like last year, the Knights will have some tough competition. Last season, Rutgers reached a team score of 194.175 for fourth place and surpassed then No. 22 Ohio State. At the time, it was the Knights' second-ranked conference win of the season after defeating Penn State two weeks prior.

Last time out

This past weekend, Rutgers claimed four event titles while away in College Park against Maryland, but still wasn't able to outscore its conference opponent in the long run. The Knights posted a 194.000, falling to the Terrapins’ 195.750.

True freshman Hannah Joyner walked away with the beam and all-around title. Joyner closed the event lineup with a 9.925 to tie her season and career-high. Her all-around score of 39.350 puts her fourth in the program's record books alongside former Rutgers gymnast Alexis Gunzelman. Not to mention, Joyner’s all-around score eclipses junior Belle Huang’s career-best score of 39.300 set last year.

Besides beam, Joyner posted a 9.825 on vault, 9.775 on bars and 9.825 on floor.

Competing against Maryland, Huang connected on her bars routine to post a 9.750, which helped contribute to her all-around score of 39.300. Huang was the only Knight that wasn’t able to claim an event title when closing the event lineup but still managed to record her team’s highest score on floor with a 9.850 for second.

With Joyner claiming two titles, seniors Shannon Farrell and Kaitlyn Hall captured event titles of their own with similar scores. Farrell stuck her bars routine with a 9.875 to close the event, while Hall launched herself to a winning score of 9.875 on vault.

After a solid 9.675 vault performance, true freshman Jordyn Duffield struggled to maintain her momentum on beam and floor, posting scores of 8.875 and 8.950, respectively. Duffield was out of her element on Sunday when she was thrown into a floor routine.

Senior Erin McLachlan could only manage a 8.700 for her first appearance in the lineup.

Only one way to go

In the conference’s mid-season rankings, Rutgers hovers at the bottom, as it’s the only team that has yet to win against a Big Ten opponent. Then again, 3 out of the 4 conference teams that the Knights have faced rank within the top half of the Big Ten. Michigan is undefeated in the conference, and the Terrapins and Michigan State are tied for third in it.

Illinois and Iowa each have at least one conference win, and Rutgers may be able to join them after this weekend. 

At the end of the day, the Knights need to have consistent, solid routines with the least amount of mistakes as possible. Rutgers doesn’t need to have perfect routines to move up the Big Ten rankings, but every gymnast in every lineup has to perform to the best of their ability. It’s one thing to have a high, consistent scorer and another for multiple gymnasts to replicate that same score.

For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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