Organized new coach ready for intrasquad meet


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Hawkeye men's gymnastics head coach JD Reive is described in one word by Hawkeye coaches and gymnasts: organized.

"He has every practice planned out down to the minute," assistant coach Brad Virkler said.

Reive hopes this organization and attention to detail will put Iowa back on top of the Big Ten and the nation. The Hawkeyes are ranked 10th out of the 17 men's gymnastics teams in the nation. The squad will get its first chance to impress fans at the Black and Gold intrasquad on Saturday in the Field House.

Reive, who was previously an assistant coach for national power Stanford, said his transition to Iowa has been smooth.

"It's a different mindset here," he said. "Athletics are huge here, so there is more exposure."

Reive took over for Tom Dunn, who was the Hawkeye head coach for 31 years. Senior Mike Jiang, a returning All-American in pommel horse, said the change has been substantial but positive.

"It's been a dramatic change [from Dunn to Reive,]" Jiang said. "He has us functioning like a team."
"He definitely knows what he's doing," said junior transfer Javier Balboa. "He has everything planned out for us to be at top form for Big Tens and NCAAs."

Keeping it safe and simple is the objective for the intrasquad meet; Reive notes that the routines done on Saturday will be easier than the routines performed later in the season.

"It's a chance for the guys to practice in front of judges and a crowd," Virkler said.

Pommel horse is regarded as a team strength, for good reason — Jiang returns from a seventh-place finish in the event last season at nationals. He said he hopes to repeat as an All-American, and despite his high standing in pommel horse, he isn't resting on his laurels.

"I want to bring up my other events this year, too," said Jiang, who also competes in the parallel bar and high bar.

In his first year as a Hawkeye, Balboa has become a team leader, Reive said. Balboa, who transferred in from Mexico in the fall, wants to have a good start at Iowa.

"I want to get off on the right foot here at Iowa and set up everything for down the road," he said.

The freshman class also received praise from Reive, who singled-out the group's work ethic as well as the members' excellence in the classroom. He noted that he looked to his senior class for leadership, and they have stepped up.

The regular season begins on Jan. 15 in Chicago with the Windy City Invitational. The meet will be a big test for Iowa — two of the top four teams in the country will be present. Still, Reive likes opening the season in this manner.

"It's good to be part of an invitational," he said. "It's a lot less nerve-racking with a lot of people on the floor."

The coach looks forward to seeing how his team will handle the competition on Saturday.

"It's a good way to set the tone for the season, and start setting the change in motion," he said.

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