Senior gymnasts remember careers

BY NICK GANS | MARCH 04, 2010 7:30 AM

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Senior years may be filled with midterms, meeting employers, and memories. But four Iowa gymnasts are continuing to build on the latter.

Jon Buese, Danny Kuklinski, Joel Snyder, and Reid Urbain make up the Hawkeyes’ senior class, and today, they will compete for the last time at Iowa.

The gymnasts said they don’t know what to expect when they finish their routines against Illinois on Senior Day, but they know what they will take from their experiences.

“I’m going to remember how much fun we all had together,” Kuklisnki said. “Every day you come in here, there will be some days you don’t want to work out, but being with all these guys all the time is an experience I’ll never forget.”

Urbain added, “We’re a pretty tightly knit group. All of us seniors get along well. In fact, the whole team does.”

Team goals are something the seniors emphasized at the beginning of the year.

After finishing 2-3 last season and placing sixth in the Big Ten Tournament, the veterans knew bettering the Hawkeyes had to start with them. Consequently, their leadership has led to the reloading of Iowa gymnastics, not the rebuilding of it.

Urbain said the seniors wanted to start a path for the underclassmen to continue — although, some of those paths are away from the mat.

“We all do things together in and outside the gym to keep everyone close,” Kuklinski said. “I think that’s what distinguishes our class from everyone else — we bring everyone together.”

Another aspect distinguishing the seniors from their teammates is the path each took to Iowa City.

Buese knew all about the Iowa program coming in as a recruit despite growing up in Gainesville, Fla. His brother, Tom Buese, was a Hawkeye gymnast under head coach Tom Dunn.

Kuklinski had gone to Iowa for annual invitational meets in the Field House since the age of 6. Because of that, he said, he had become fond of the Iowa campus and atmosphere, and he thinks of Iowa City as a second home.

Urbain’s path to Iowa tagged him as the black sheep of his family.

“I’ve been competing at Iowa since I was really young, doing the Iowa Boys Invitational and getting used to the atmosphere since I can remember,” the Fort Atkinson, Wis., native said. “But my parents all went to Iowa State. My brother and sister went to Iowa State.”

When the seniors finish up their careers in the middle of April at the NCAA championships, however, competing in gymnastics at the collegiate level will come to an abrupt end.

But the memories they’ve shared and lessons they’ve learned from the highs and lows of gymnastics will prepare them for the daunting “real world,” they said.

“Having gymnastics on a résumé not only shows employers that he’s a part of a team, but that he’s working hard, and he can balance other things,” Urbain said. “It’s something not everyone can say.”

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