Men’s gymnastics set to compete in Minneapolis

BY NICK GANS | MARCH 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa men’s gymnastics team may have started to peak at the right time.

Despite falling to No. 3 Illinois, the Hawkeyes posted a season-high team score of 346.600 on Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes will now travel north to compete against No. 7 Minnesota and No. 11 Illinois-Chicago in the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

Iowa hasn’t beaten the Golden Gophers on the road since 2006.

“Last week’s performance raised the expectations a little bit for the Minnesota meet and the season, but it doesn’t change the goals we set at the beginning [of the season],” Iowa head coach Tom Dunn said. “What we did last week was hit more routines. We’ll have to see if the judges up north give us the same scores.”

The scores the Hawkeyes put up against the Fighting Illini were some of the highest of the season. A couple mainstays on the gymnastics team added to the increased score.

Junior Ben Ketelsen set a team season-high on the vault with a score of 15.900, and senior Reid Urbain did the same on the floor exercise, tallying a 15.100 score.

As well as Urbain performed on Senior Day, the routines by Iowa’s freshmen took the home-town audience by surprise. The youngsters also have the Iowa coaches eager to see a repeat performance.

Freshman Broderick Shemansky, who tied the school rings record with a score of 14.800, particularly pleased Dunn.

“Broderick was a question mark for us going into the season,” Dunn said. “We didn’t know what to expect at first, but he’s improved a lot lately, and he’s figured out what to do at practice. He’s improved every week because of that. It seems like he’s performing on a new event every meet as well.”

Associate head coach Dmitri Trouch also said he saw improvement.

“Broderick’s rings performance last week was great, and that’s the event we are really counting on from him,” Trouch said. “Having him on the ring team will be a big asset this week and beyond.”

Dunn said freshmen Matt McGrath and Anton Gryshayev, both of whom tied for third on rings against Illinois, also have become more comfortable with their routines as the season has progressed.

However, one routine Dunn said he was disappointed on against the Fighting Illini was the pommel horse.

The event at the beginning of the season was a known weakness, Trouch said. Midway through, the coaches thought Iowa had turned the corner.

The struggles continued last week, though. Dunn said he anticipates someone rising up to lead the Hawkeyes in the event.

“I think Ben [Ketelsen] as well as Michael [Jiang] would be our best on pommel horse, but it hasn’t materialized quite like we want yet,” Dunn said. “We’d like for him to step up this weekend against some tough teams.”

As for the teams Iowa will face this weekend, the Hawkeyes already have beaten both, finishing ahead of Minnesota and Illinois-Chicago with a fourth-place finish at the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 16.

On Saturday, however, Dunn expects a tougher meet — especially with the Golden Gophers serving as the host.

“We beat the Gophers in January, but they will be gunning for us on [their] Senior Night in Minneapolis.”

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