Hawkeye men’s gymnastics team heads to Big Tens


The Iowa men’s gymnastics team has been striving all season long for a performance in which it fires on all cylinders.

Iowa has experienced numerous highs and lows this season, from a 347.90-321.55 drubbing at Michigan on Jan. 30, to the Hawkeyes’ first win in a meet featuring more than two schools in West Point, N.Y., on March 14.

That aside, the gymnasts, as well as the coaches, anticipate a big time performance on the way.

The Big Ten championships, which begin today in Ann Arbor, Mich., would be the perfect stage for it to happen on.

Iowa enters the meet ranked No. 10 by GymInfo — the lowest ranked Big Ten squad entering this weekend’s competition. Ranked ahead of them is Illinois at No. 4, Michigan at No. 5, Penn State at No. 6, Ohio State at No. 7, and Minnesota at No. 8.

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But these Hawkeyes have no problem playing with house money.

“I think that we should be going into this meet with kind of nothing to lose,” senior Geoff Reins said.

“Nobody really expects us to do anything, but we’ve had good practices, we’ve had numerous Big Ten run-throughs, intrasquads, I think we’ll have the best meet we’ve had all year.”

Up to this point, Iowa’s best performance came at its final home competition of the year — a triangular against Nebraska and Minnesota in which the Hawkeyes scored an impressive and much-improved 341.60.

Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, their opponents were performing at a high level as well, as both Minnesota and Nebraska finished ahead of Iowa with scores of 345.90 and 343.50.

If the Hawkeyes are to improve on that performance, they will have to be mentally ready to go.

According to head coach Tom Dunn, all signs seem to suggest they are.

“The key will be their mental approach,” Dunn said. “I think everybody’s feeling pretty good about himself and his routines, so I expect a good performance.”

One thing is for certain — Iowa hasn’t been short on time to prepare for this weekend. The Hawkeyes’ last competition was their victory in West Point almost three weeks ago.

It’s a situation that seems optimal for a squad that has felt the effects not only of injuries this season, but the illness bug as well. Dunn feels like this is the freshest his squad has been all season, and his gymnasts have taken advantage of the opportunity to ensure they are as fresh as possible.

“The extra time does help,” junior Reid Urbain said. “Especially when we’ve had some injuries that needed a little bit of resting. Some of those guys had a few days off to rest their injuries, so now they’re back in full force.”

Rest and recovery wasn’t the only benefit of the time off, though. The three-week gap without competition has allowed the gymnasts to fix specific problem areas in addition to polishing up their routines.

“Obviously, we’d like to compete more,” Reins said. “That’s just how the schedule worked out. But I think it’s going to help us a lot. We’ve been able to increase the number of routines that we’ve done. “It’s been showing — we had intrasquad this past Saturday and I think it was one of the best practices we’ve had all year. I think we’re on a good high right now.”

If that sort of confidence is any indication, the Hawkeyes will be ready to do battle with the rest of the Big Ten this weekend.

Competition is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. today as well as Saturday, and both nights of action will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.

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