Hawkeye gymnasts go back to middle school


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Timm Krueger can’t remember a time when Matt McGrath hasn’t been called by his nickname, “Chewy.”

If anyone on the Hawkeye men’s gymnastics team could remember it, it would be Krueger. He and McGrath have competed together since they were 11 years old, and they attended high school together at Wheaton North in Wheaton, Ill.

The two made their college decisions independently, but McGrath said it was definitely a plus to find out Krueger would join him in Iowa City.

Iowa head coach JD Reive said it isn’t uncommon to see two gymnasts from the same area go to the same university for gymnastics.

“If you look across the board, the pool of athletes is so small, and there aren’t that many clubs,” Reive said. “College coaches establish a relationship with club coaches, and the clubs feel comfortable sending their kids to these schools.”

McGrath and Krueger both won state championships in high school, with Krueger’s titles coming at the high-school level with Wheaton North, and McGrath’s coming at the club level for Bartlett Gymnastics, where Krueger also trained.

Because of their eight-year bond, Krueger and McGrath know how to motivate one another to improve, and they are aware of each other’s mannerisms and tendencies.

“We’ve known each other for so long, so we can push each other pretty hard because we know the other one can take it,” McGrath said.

Krueger said that because he can read McGrath’s expressions and vice versa, they are able to calm each down and motivate each other during meets.

And the nickname?

“When he was a kid, one of his coaches called him ‘Ma-chew,’ and it just kind of evolved over time to Chewbacca, and then Chewy, and the name just stuck,” Krueger said.

As a sophomore, McGrath has become one of the top gymnasts for the Hawkeyes. Following a freshman season in which he qualified for the NCAAs on the vault, he has recorded wins on the vault, floor exercise, and the rings this season. Krueger, who has seen the growth of McGrath as a gymnast since middle school, looks to him as an example of dedication.

“He was always really good at floor and vault, but when we hit high school, he got super strong really fast,” Krueger said. “He became a really good example of what hard work can get you.”

McGrath is equally complimentary to Krueger, noting that Krueger, who started gymnastics much later in life, has come a long way as a gymnast.

Krueger said having a high-school friend as a college teammate is great.

“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “It makes you feel really comfortable to have someone that you’ve known for eight years competing with you.”

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