Men’s gymnastics rolls in front of packed house


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At one point in the Iowa men’s gymnastics team’s dual meet against Illinois-Chicago, head coach JD Reive looked around and marveled at the crowd that had assembled.

“Oh man, there’s even people upstairs,” the first-year head coach said. “This is awesome.”

In front of an announced crowd of 801 in the Field House on Jan. 22, the No. 10 Hawkeyes cruised to a 342.100-329.300 victory over the 12th-ranked Flames in Reive’s first dual meet as the head Hawkeye coach.

Senior Mike Jiang said the Hawkeyes fed off the energetic crowd.

“The crowd was really loud and supportive,” he said.

Senior Ben Ketelsen said the crowd exceeded previous meets that were held in the much larger Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa improved its score from the Windy City meet in all six events and took first in each event as well. Illinois-Chicago’s Alex Bymaster and Joseph Hodges tied in the all-around competition, in which no Hawkeye competed.

A 3.2-point jump on the pommel horse — an event that Reive had stressed needed to be improved — was a key part of Iowa’s victory. After emphasizing improvement after the Windy City meet, he said he was impressed with the team’s response and noted that the team’s higher score and higher hit percentages were telling.

Ketelsen had a standout day, scoring 14.6 on the pommel horse to win the event. Ketelsen’s score topped last year’s team high of 14.450 shared by Ketelsen and Jiang. Ketelsen also tied for first in the vault with Javier Balboa with a 15.600.

“It was my first hit [on pommel horse] of the season, and it felt good,” Ketelsen said.

Returning All-American Jiang also took two events, winning the parallel bar event with a 14.400 and tying in horizontal bar with freshman Lance Alberhasky (14.100). Jiang, who finished no lower than third in every event he competed in, said the team effort was stronger than it had been in Chicago.

“We pulled together as a team and covered up our misses,” the senior said. “No one felt let down.”

In the other two events, sophomore Matt McGrath won the floor exercise with a 14.500, and sophomore Anton Gryshayev claimed first place on the rings with a 14.900.

The Hawkeyes will now look forward to Illinois, ranked No. 1 in the nation. Reive said that despite the commanding victory, there were still things to be fixed before traveling to Champaign for the dual meet on Saturday.

“We made some mental mistakes, which stem from a lack of confidence,” Reive said. “We’ll continue to progress and mature.”

Still, Ketelsen said, the Hawkeyes are constantly improving.

“Our confidence level is going up, so we can focus on tiny deductions,” he said.

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