In Knights Under Lights, The Daily Targum looks at athletes who distinguished themselves during their time on the Banks.
When Alexis Gunzelman first arrived on the Banks in the fall of 2011, none could have predicted the impact she would have on the Rutgers women’s gymnastics team. Nearly a decade later, Gunzelman is recognized as one of the Scarlet Knights’ most decorated student-athletes of all time.
Gunzelman’s rise to collegiate superstardom began in the humblest of ways, as she joined Rutgers as a walk-on before she quickly became one of the team's top contributors. She flashed her ability as an all-around athlete for the Knights, and by the 2011 season’s end, found herself consistently competing in all four events.
As a freshman, Gunzelman recorded season-bests of 9.750 on the balance beam and the vault. She concluded the season averaging a score of at least 9.467 in every event. The Tabernacle, New Jersey, gymnast had already begun shattering even the most generous of expectations, as she was named Rutgers’ EAGL Team MVP.
Gunzelman continued to impress for the Knights in her sophomore year. She never posted a single all-around score lower than 38.025 across the entire season and concluded the year with a season-high 39.125-point effort in the 2012 EAGL Championships. Gunzelman’s sophomore campaign earned her EAGL First Team All-Around honors and she was also awarded Rutgers’ EAGL Team MVP for the second consecutive year.
Her junior season was no different. She earned an All-EAGL First Team selection for bars. She was the team’s captain, competed in 12 meets and earned yet another nod to the NCAA Regionals
By the time Gunzelman was a senior, her legacy as one of the greatest gymnasts in the program’s history was nearly cemented, and another strong season would likely secure her a future spot in the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame. Gunzelman became 1 of only 2 Knights ever to be selected to compete in the NCAA Nationals, and her heroic efforts in the regular season helped lift the team to an NCAA Regionals berth in 2014.
In her second straight season as captain, Gunzelman helped Rutgers achieve a team ranking of No. 35 which was tied for the program’s second-highest national ranking of all time.
Gunzelman’s greatness lifted the program to new heights, and her impact both on the Banks and elsewhere should not be understated.
In the years since Gunzelman’s graduation in 2014, she has taken on an entirely new challenge, working as a Cardiac ICU Nurse at the University of Pennsylvania. She has made a seamless transition from her life as a student-athlete to a life of service. Her four EAGL All-Academic Team and two NACGC/W Scholastic All-American honors were clearly well deserved.
With her years of hard work and dedication, Gunzelman shattered many records in her time with the Knights. From walking on to becoming one of the most decorated Rutgers student-athletes of all time, Gunzelman represents the determination, skill and work ethic it takes to be a Knight.
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