Men’s gymnasts uses weekend off to improve

BY RYAN MURPHY | MARCH 03, 2011 7:20 AM

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After its season-best performance at its Feb. 19 meet against Nebraska, the Iowa men’s gymnastics team faced a two-week lull between competitions.

The last time the No. 10 Hawkeyes competed after an off-week, the squad turned in its second lowest score of the season.

Head coach JD Reive is determined not to let it happen again.

Reive said he liked having a week to get extra time in the gym to improve and prepare for the final three meets of the regular season.

“We can get a lot more accomplished because we didn’t need to pull back at the end of the week,” Reive said. “It’s great to get that extra work in.”

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Senior Mike Jiang said the weeks in which the team does not compete are always the most challenging. Practices aren’t any easier.

Sophomore Matt McGrath agreed, and he said it also allows the team to gain momentum going into its meet against Minnesota and Penn State in Minneapolis on Saturday.

“It is nice to work on the little things, and we are able to push right through to the Minnesota meet,” McGrath said.

The first meeting with Minnesota came after a two-week break, and the Hawkeyes fell to a Gopher squad Reive felt the Hawks could easily have beaten. The need to improve on that performance has driven the Hawkeyes even more during their time away from competition.

“Last time, we were so concerned with beating Minnesota, we kind of forgot about the basics,” sophomore Timm Krueger said. “This time around, we’re just focused on what we need to do.”

Reive admitted that his team needs as much practice in a competition setting — meaning one with judges and a crowd — as possible. The first-year head coach is trying to take care of that by conducting intrasquad meets during practice. The intrasquads are an element that has helped the Hawkeyes stay fresh, Krueger said.

Iowa will face a difficult stretch of meets in the run-up to the Big Ten championships. Two of the nation’s top five teams — No. 4 California and No. 5 Penn State — will face the Hawkeyes in the coming weeks, as well as meetings with No. 7 Nebraska and No. 8 Minnesota.

Reive said after three-consecutive weeks of action, his team will be ready for a break — which they will get the week before the Big Ten championships.

He also said the extra week is an advantage for his team.

“It’s a good thing from a training standpoint,” Reive said. “It gives me 10 days to get to the grind.”

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