Before the Big Ten Championships over spring break, one more competition awaits the Rutgers gymnastics team at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). Honoring seniors Shannon Farrell, Kaitlyn Hall and Erin McLachlan, the Scarlet Knights will compete in their last home meet against Yale and Brown at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Similar to last year, the seniors have shown leadership from a culture and performance standpoint. The trio of Rutgers gymnasts all have their one event that they have developed and dominated in competition during their time on the Banks. Dubbed the Bar Queen, Farrell is no stranger to stick landings and is by far the most consistent performer in the event for the Knights. Hall has had a breakout season as the Vault Queen, matching or breaking her career high five times over. As the school-record holder on beam, it's safe to say that McLachlan is the Beam Queen. She has also overcome a grueling injury to get to where she is today.
Scouting the Bulldogs and Bears
Rutgers has the possibility of reaching four straight meet wins on Friday, which is a feat it hasn't met since the start of the 2014 season. Out of the three teams competing at the RAC, the Knights are looking to be in the best shape to take the win at home.
This year, Yale is hovering around the 193-194 score range and has yet to score at or above the 195 mark. Competing against four other competitors in Washington D.C., last weekend, the Bulldogs are heading to the RAC with a last place finish from the event and a team score of 193.300.
In its past five meets, Brown has been anywhere between 191-193, which isn't consistent in the world of gymnastics. Fortunately for the Bears, they recently posted a season-high team score of 193.500, but it doesn't look like they'll be challenging Rutgers on the Banks.
Keeping the Streak Alive
In arguably the Knights' best back half of the season, they have hit three straight team scores above the 195 mark and are inching toward 196. Fans of Rutgers haven't seen this level of consistency since joining the Big Ten and defeating No. 15 Auburn was icing on the cake. If the Knights are able to maintain or even improve their scores through the Big Ten Championships, then there's no telling what is possible for the postseason.
To put things into perspective, the Tigers competed as an entire team at NCAAs and qualified for the Sweet 16. Even though Rutgers had a great season last year, it still wound up last at the Big Ten Championships. Taking down Auburn is a huge leap forward for the Knights, as they have hit their stride moving into their most important competition of the season.
Big Ten Outlook
Travel advisories and the limitation of spectators aside, Rutgers still has its conference championships in Columbus, Ohio, on March 21 during the noon session. This is the Knights' chance to show the conference that they are a team destined for Big Ten glory. With that being said, Rutgers will be up against fierce competition, with all of the other teams ranked higher in the national standings.
No. 24 Illinois and No. 25 Iowa have averaged around mid-195 range all season and have consistently reached the 196 mark on multiple occasions.
The Knights have a better opportunity of challenging lower-tier teams such as Maryland, Penn State and Ohio State. All three teams have reached scores above 196 and also average in the mid-195 range. Rutgers averages around the mid-194 mark, but has surged over the past couple of weeks to hold the same level of consistency as the rest of the Big Ten. As long as the Knights are able to maintain their performances and rise to the occasion over the next two weeks, there's no telling what damage they could do in the conference.
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