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GymHawks head to Chicago

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | FEBRUARY 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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A team with momentum isn’t often considered the underdog.

However, that’s the case for the Iowa women’s gymnastics team tonight.

The GymHawks hope to continue their winning ways after securing their first Big Ten dual-meet victory of the season, over Ohio State on Feb. 6. Iowa will travel to Chicago to compete against three top-20 teams — No. 10 Nebraska, No. 19 Denver, and No. 20 Illinois — in the in the Navy Pier meet at 7:30 p.m. today.

“I’m looking forward to winning,” Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said with a chuckle. “All kidding aside, I would just like to continue the trend that we had last week. I think the intensity they brought coming out of the locker room right away, I don’t think that there was anybody who could have looked at them and felt like they were going to lose.”

Against Ohio State, the GymHawks trailed by .175 of a point after three events, but managed a comeback thanks to several impressive performances on the floor exercise.

Iowa moved up two poll spots from a week ago, a reaching No. 33. The squad scored a season-high team score of 194.925 to bump its average up to 193.095.

The three other teams competing today average higher scores, though. The Cornhuskers lead the pack with a team average of 195.570, followed by the Pioneers with a 194.465, and the Fighting Illini with 194.430.

The Navy Pier Meet will be a homecoming of sorts for freshmen Emma Stevenson and Olivia Beatty and sophomores Rachel Corcoran and Rachel Nash, who hail from Illinois.

Corcoran won’t compete because of an ACL injury suffered last week. She said she is still looking forward to seeing her family and friends from home.

“We like that there is a Chicago meet because we can relate to it,” she said. “A lot of us went to that meet when we were younger. It’s nice to go back.”

The same holds true for Stevenson, whose extended family plans to attend.

But her main goal is for the Hawkeyes to stay focused on perfectly hitting all 24 routines.

“That’s the whole idea of peaking later,” Stevenson said. “Once we peak to stay peaked the whole season, so, hopefully, we can bring it together like we did last time and show everyone what we are capable of doing.”

In the last competition, other than the comeback, Libby was most impressed by Iowa hitting on 23 of the 24 total routines — a feat that equaled the highest total by last season’s senior-driven squad.

“The expectation is to go 24-for-24, and, hopefully, the score will correlate with that,” Libby said. “It’s going to be difficult, but it’s not anything they haven’t seen.”


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