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Men’s gymnastics psyched for NCAA qualifier

BY NICK GANS | APRIL 15, 2010 7:30 AM

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The gymnasts are healthy. The lineups are set. Practice is over, and the most important meet of the year is here.

The Iowa men’s gymnastics team has set its sights on one target: to show the country that the Hawkeyes are this year’s surprise team at the NCAA qualifier today in West Point, N.Y.

“I think our team is anxious more than anything else,” Iowa associate head coach Dmitri Trouch said. “They are in the best shape they have been in all year, and now it’s time do well in it and surprise some people.”

Iowa last competed at the Big Ten championships on April 3. Since his team’s sixth-place finish at the conference tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Iowa head coach Tom Dunn said his team has made steady and “surprising” progress on the pommel horse — an event that has given his team fits all season.

Hawkeye sophomore Zach Cazabon, who hasn’t competed in the pommel horse this year but has shown significant improvement in the event during practice, will be added to the lineup, Dunn said
Freshman Anton Gryshayev also garnered attention from the Iowa coaches. He has competed all year on rings, but he may move into the lineup for parallel bars.

“Everyone’s improving a little bit since our last meet, but I think Anton made a little bit more of a jump than normal,” assistant coach Alex Kolyvanov said. “He had a very good week of practice and we’ll need him to perform as well as he practiced.”

What the Hawkeyes also need is a bit of luck, Kolyvanov said.

“We’re going to have to hit our highest percentages to move on past the first round, which is something we’ve done before,” he said. “But unless we do really well, we’re going to need some other guys on teams to hiccup on a few things.”

Iowa will need to have one of the three best total team scores from the qualifying round of six to advance.

The No. 11 Hawkeyes will face No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Michigan, No 6 California, No 7 Minnesota, and No. 10 Nebraska. If Iowa advances, the squad will compete with the top three teams from the other group of six on Friday for the team and all-around championships.

But even if Iowa doesn’t qualify for Friday’s championships as a team, Hawkeye gymnasts still have a chance to qualify for individual titles. The top three gymnasts from each event whose team did not qualify will compete individually on Saturday.

Senior Jonathan Buese, junior Ben Ketelsen, and Gryshayev are three of the favorites to do this if Iowa does not advance, Kolyvanov said. Yet they aren’t the only ones he expects to do well.

“I think everyone has a chance and ability to [qualify],” Kolyvanov said. “But it may take the performance of their lives to do it. The best of the best will be there in New York.”

For gymnasts such as senior Reid Urbain, the performance of his life isn’t what he needs to qualify. He has been a few 10ths of a point short of qualifying for the next round every year.

He said he hopes the consistency he has developed in practice and the change in the attitude of the team will help lead to some success.

“We were pretty confident that we trained well and did everything we need to do leading up to Big Tens,” Urbain said. “So we relaxed a bit, but we know we can’t relax now. We got to do our routines and can’t lose anything off of stupid mistakes. We’re going to need our best to compete against the best.”

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