Hawkeye gymnasts rely on underclassmen


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

In his first year as Iowa head men’s gymnastics coach, JD Reive likes what he sees for the future of the program.

“The future is very bright,” he said.

His confidence in the future, he said, stems from the strength of his current freshmen and sophomores. All five events in which a Hawkeye won during the Feb. 19 meet against Nebraska were won by an underclassman. Leading the group were sophomores Matt McGrath and Anton Gryshayev, who both broke school records.

On a team with only three seniors and two true juniors — Javier Balboa, who is listed as a junior, has sophomore eligibility — Reive said a strong group of younger athletes has made his job easier, both in the gym and on the recruiting trail.

“It’s super important, and it made my job easier from a recruiting standpoint in terms of how quickly I can bring the program back to national prominence,” he said. “They are going to continue to do well, which is going to help me recruit better kids.”

McGrath, the only Hawkeye to have won an event in every dual meet this season, said his class’ success is a great sign that the program is on the rise.

“It gives us room for improvement, so we have a lot to look forward to,” he said.

Six different underclassmen have won events, and Gryshayev and McGrath lead the team with four event wins each.

Reive also credits his seniors for showing the underclassman what high-level gymnastics looks like and how to compete in high-pressure situations. Mike Jiang, who knows all about these situations after competing in the individual finals at the NCAA championships last season, said it’s part of his job as a senior to guide his younger teammates.

“The majority of our team is young, so it’s important that they know what’s up in collegiate gymnastics, handling pressure, and the new atmosphere,” he said.

After the impressive victory against Nebraska, Reive said he saw the first glimpse of the full potential of his underclassmen, especially the sophomores.

“It’s exciting to see that group coming together, because from that group we’re going to get our team leaders, we’re going to get our captains, and guys who help me with the recruiting process and attracting the best kids,” he said.

However, Reive said he knows the true test of his younger student-athletes will not come until the end of the season, in the pressure cooker that is Big Tens and NCAAs. The Iowa coach, though, said he’s confident he will have them ready to compete.

“It’s going to be a lot to handle, but if I do my job, they’ll be ready to go,” he said.

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.