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Reins goes out like a champion

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | APRIL 21, 2009 7:30 AM

The Iowa men’s gymnastics squad concluded a disappointing season with a sixth-place finish in the second qualifying session of the NCAA championships on April 16 in Minneapolis. Iowa’s team score of 337.35 barely bested by the 337.65 posted by Illinois-Chicago and earned the Hawks an 11th place finish among all teams that participated in qualifying. Stanford won the national championship on April 17, scoring 362.80 to beat out Michigan’s 361.50.

But the meet was not without bright spots, even for a young Hawkeye squad that has faced adversity all season.

As expected, senior Geoff Reins shone the brightest. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native, enjoyed three-straight days of tremendous success, beginning with the 15.45 he posted on floor exercise — a personal best — to tie for third place in the April 16 team qualifying round. Reins also continued his season-long domination of the vault, scoring 16.10 to finish behind Oklahoma’s defending NCAA champion Steve Legendre. He experienced a drop-off in his floor performance in the April 17 team finals, scoring 14.35. His vault, on the other hand, seemed to thrive on the big stage and improved to 16.30 to tie with Legendre.

Reins didn’t crack under the pressure of the individual finals, either.

In the final performance of his gymnastics career, he posted another 16.30 on vault. Unfortunately for him, the judges didn’t think it quite matched up to Legendre’s effort. Having already captured championships in both the all-around competition and the floor exercise earlier, the Oklahoma sophomore scored 16.325 to claim the vault title as well.

For Reins, it might have been the definition of a “bittersweet” ending.

“It went about as well as I could have hoped for,” he said. “It’s just disappointing no matter how wide the gap is. It’s a little bit more because it was so close, but obviously I’m still proud of the way it turned out, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

The victory was certainly one by the slimmest of margins. While the judges thought Legendre’s performance was more deserving, Iowa head coach Tom Dunn disagreed.

“I thought [Reins] was deserving of the championship,” Dunn said. “Obviously, .025 isn’t much. I thought Geoff should have won, but Legendre is the defending NCAA champion. He’d already won the all-around and the floor exercise, so he was kind of on a roll. He needed to be a little more than a little bit better to beat him, I guess.”

A mere .025 separated Reins from earning his first national championship. Instead, he claimed his third All-American selection. Despite the controversial defeat, he was still able to look back on the weekend in a good light.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “That’s exactly the way I wanted to end my career. I would have liked to do a little bit better on floor, but I wound up getting a personal high on Thursday, so that was exciting for me. It was just a great weekend.”

Also performing for the Hawkeyes in the team finals on April 17 were junior Jonathan Buese and freshman Zach Cazabon. Buese earned 14th in the all-around competition, and Cazabon tied for 42nd on parallel bars. They are just two of the 13 who will return to compete for Iowa next season.

The squad will try to use the experience gained from a rocky ’09 campaign to bounce back in 2010.
“I think we have great recruits coming in,” junior Reid Urbain said. “We have a lot of guys staying here over summer, which really helps. I think with that combination we’ll do pretty well next year.”
The departure of Reins will leave holes in the team’s floor and vault lineups. But the three-time All-American left words of advice for his younger counterparts.

“Don’t take anything for granted; it goes fast,” Reins said. “It’s an experience that a lot of kids never get, so obviously work as hard as you can, but enjoy the time.”


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