Rutgers Gymnastics
Gabrielle Dildy celebrates after her vault against Penn and Yale. (Photo by Christopher Shannon - JSN)

Rutgers gymnastics scores successful St. Patrick's Day Weekend

The Rutgers gymnastics team had a successful St. Patrick's Day weekend topping four teams while only falling to one.

On Friday, the Scarlet Knights faced off against Penn and Yale on Senior Night while on Sunday Rutgers traveled to the nation's capital where they placed second in a quad meet featuring George Washington, Penn State and Towson.

Rutgers Triumphant on Senior Night

To start the weekend, Rutgers posted a 196.200 to top the Quakers and Bulldogs in Jersey Mike's Arena.

Ironically, on Senior Night, it was a sophomore, and junior, that led the way for the Scarlet Knights.  Sophomore, Gabrielle Dildy posted two, of Rutgers' three, 9.9s on the evening.  Dildy posted her 9.9s on the vault and floor exercise to secure at least a tie for first place on each event.  Junior Maya Jones posted the Scarlet Knights' other 9.9 score on the floor, tying her with Dildy, and Yale's Ella Tashjian for first on the event.  The three 9.9s were career highs for both Dildy and Jones. 

The Scarlet Knights' senior class was led by the trio of Emily Leese, Avery Balser, and Stephanie Zannella.  Leese recorded a 9.85 on the vault, to tie for third place on the event with Penn's Kiersten Belkoff.  She also scored a 9.8 on floor to finish in a three-way tie for fourth with teammate Elia Aird and Penn's Emma Davies.  Balser recorded a 9.85 on uneven bars to take home top honors with Penn's Sophia Paris.  Rounding out the senior trio, Zanella tied for second place on the balance beam with teammate Jacqueline Manifold with a 9.825.

Penn's Skyelar Kerico won the all-around title while Rutgers had no all-around competitors.  Rounding out the team standings, Penn finished second in the team standings with a 195.450, while Yale finished in third with an even 194.

Scarlet Knights Score Season High in D.C. Quad Meet

Rutgers concluded their regular season on high note finishing with a season high score of 196.825 at a meet at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. on St. Patrick's Day.  The 196.825 mark was also the second highest score in program history.

The tightly contested meet saw only 0.3 of a point difference between the first and fourth place teams and included 19 scores of 9.9, or better, of which the Scarlet Knights recorded six.

Leese led the way for Rutgers on the vault scoring an impressive 9.925 on the event to lead all other competitors.  Besides Leese, Dildy, followed up her vault performance against Penn and Yale with another 9.9 on the vault to finish in a four-way tie for second on the event in D.C.

On bars the Scarlet Knights had two more gymnasts top the 9.9 mark.  Balser, again, led the way on bars for Rutgers where she recorded a career high 9.95 to finish in a tie for first on the event.  Valentina Lorente-Garcia also reached the 9.9 mark tying for fourth with a 9.9.  The 9.9 was Lorente-Garcia's first 9.9-plus score on bars of her collegiate career.

The Scarlet Knights cooled off a bit on beam posting their lowest event total of the evening.  Manifold led the way for Rutgers posting a 9.9 to finish second overall on the event.

The Scarlet Knights were led by Leese's 9.9 on floor which was good enough for a tie for fourth place.  Floor was Rutgers' most consistent event as no Scarlet Knight posted a score below 9.8 on the event.

Penn State posted the top team score in D.C., besting Rutgers by a mere 0.05 of a point.  Host George Washington finished in third while Towson rounded out the team standings in fourth.  Penn State's Ava Piedrahita won the all-around.

Up Next For Rutgers

Rutgers will start the post season this Saturday as they travel to East Lansing, Mich. for the Big Ten Championship.

Christopher Shannon

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