Men’s gymnasts face Nebraska in home finale


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JD Reive is quick to point out where his loyalties lie.

“I was a Cornhusker; I am a Hawkeye,” the first-year Iowa men’s head gymnastics coach said.

Reive is an alumnus of Nebraska, Iowa’s opponent for Saturday’s 7 p.m. meeting in the Field House between the No. 8 Cornhuskers and the No. 10 Hawkeyes. The Iowa coach is excited about the chance to face off with Nebraska in his inaugural season.

“It’s fun,” he said. “We’re definitely capable of taking them down, which is really motivating for me.”

The importance of the meet for Reive is not lost on the athletes, either.

“It’s JD’s team, so I feel like we have an obligation to beat them,” senior Mike Jiang said.

Jiang, along with fellow seniors Ben Ketelsen and John Haines, will compete in the last home meets of their Hawkeye careers.

“I’m not really an emotional guy, but I think I might tear a little bit,” said Jiang, drawing a laugh from his teammates.

Reive complimented the ability of his senior class to adapt to a new coach coming in and “turning their world upside down,” and he said he was impressed with the performances the three seniors have put up this season.

Ketelsen, who injured his knee in the Feb. 11 meet against Minnesota, said his knee is “getting better,” and he will compete on the pommel horse, his best event.

Nebraska’s top performer has been Andreas Hofer, who is ranked fourth in the nation in the all-around. The Cornhuskers also boast two other gymnasts — Anthony Ingrelli and Eric Schryver — ranked in the top five in their respective events. The only Hawkeye ranked in the top 10 of his event is sophomore Anton Gryshayev, who is ranked seventh on the rings. Reive said the floor exercise, which has been the team’s worst event, is a key for the Hawkeyes.

“The scores have been really low, and it’s always our first event, so we need to get that momentum going,” he said.

After a disappointing performance against Minnesota in which the Hawkeyes posted their lowest team score of the season, Reive has spent the past week emphasizing mental preparation for competition.

“Every time we do something that is part of what we compete, they have to be playing the competition scenario in their head,” he said. “The nerves, the fear, the sound, the distraction — all of it needs to be as vivid as possible when they visualize what’s happening so that when they get out there, there’s not such a drastic difference from practice to competition.”

He also said his team needs to ignore the scores put up by Nebraska and focus on its own routines.

“We should win, but it’s not really going to be us versus them,” Reive said. “It’s going to be us versus us, and if we put everything together like we have been in practice, it’s not even going to be a competition.”

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