The Rutgers gymnastics team may have fallen short in surpassing any Big Ten opponents at the Big Five meet in Toledo, Ohio, this past weekend, but the Scarlet Knights were still able to walk away with a new school vault record of 49.225 to add to their total team score of 193.625.
The Big Five meet is a qualifier competition where a team’s placing determines whether it’ll compete in the morning or evening session at the Big Ten next month. The competition is also on podium, meaning every event is on its own elevated stage. The same setup is used at the Big Ten and was a prime opportunity for Rutgers to practice this format.
The Knights competed against No. 16 Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio State and Iowa, but weren’t able to match the level of competition of their Big Ten opponents.
On its record-setting vault lineup, Rutgers was led by senior Kaitlyn Hall and junior Toni Williams, who both reached a score of 9.875 to tie for fifth. Hall tied her career high, while Williams smashed her previous event record of 9.800.
Also competing in the lineup was junior Belle Huang (9.850), true freshman Hannah Joyner (9.825), senior Shannon Farrell (9.800) and true freshman Jenna Ferguson (9.750).
"The team finished the meet the way they were capable of,” said head coach Umme Salim-Beasley. “They aggressively went out and attacked their vaults. The scoring potential was there with the lineup we went with. We are so proud to see that this group of gymnasts were able to show their best gymnastics to achieve a new school vault record.”
Starting the meet off on bars, Farrell tied for sixth with a score of 9.850. Following behind Farrell was Joyner and sophomore Abigail Karolewski with matching scores of 9.775.
For the sixth time in her rookie career, Joyner scored a 9.900, leading her to claim second place on beam. From her experience competing at the national level as an elite gymnast, Joyner has seamlessly transitioned into her collegiate career as one of the most consistent gymnasts in the event.
Huang (9.725) and sophomore Kiera Doherty-Herwitz (9.625) were the next two Knights to fall behind Joyner.
The rest of the beam lineup struggled to put together their best performances. Rutgers combined for a team event score of 47.550, which is its lowest beam score of the season since it posted a 47.925 against Michigan a month ago.
On floor, Huang led the Knights with a 9.850 to tie for ninth, while Joyner posted a 9.825 to finish just behind her. Also contributing to the lineup were Williams (9.725) and Farrell (9.575).
For Rutgers’ all-arounders, Joyner posted a total score of 39.325 for fourth place. Huang was slightly behind Joyner with a total score of 39.150.
Over the next couple of competitions, the Knights will need to not only shine in a singular event, but also replicate that same spark in all of the events that follow. To combine all of its best event scores into one team score is the benchmark that Rutgers will work toward.
Up next, the Knights will compete in Morgantown, West Virginia, for a tri-meet against hosts West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Competition is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday.
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