Hawkeye gymnast stepping up on bars

BY RYAN MURPHY | MARCH 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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Entering the season, Iowa men’s gymnastics head coach JD Reive expected Brody Shemansky to be a leader for the Hawkeyes on horizontal and parallel bars. After a slow start to the season, the sophomore has broken through to become one of the team’s top scorers.

“It’s taken until now for him to accept the training program and really get into it,” Reive said. “But now he’s seeing the results and being rewarded for his efforts.”

These rewards have included a victory on parallel bars and a third-place finish on horizontal bar, also known as high bar, against Nebraska. The 14.700 he scored against the Cornhuskers was a team season-high and was one-tenth of a point away from the school record. The sophomore also led the Hawkeyes on high bar in the triangular meet against Minnesota and Penn State on March 5.

Shemansky attributed a lot of his success to the Hawkeyes’ training program.

“I think it’s the confidence that training instills,” Shemansky said. “We’ve done a lot of sets, and if you can hit a set when you feel beat up and down, you know you can hit it when you feel good.”

Reive described the 5-11 Shemansky as “long and lean,” which he said looks good on the bar. Reive also spotlighted Shemansky’s technique on his swings as another reason that he’s good on high bar.

With one of Iowa’s top parallel-bar contributors, senior Mike Jiang, out with a concussion, Shemansky’s efforts have come at a good time for the Hawkeyes. Reive, though, isn’t asking him to carry the entire event for Iowa.

“He doesn’t need to put up huge scores,” he said. “He just needs to hit his set and give us a good score.”

Reive also sees Shemansky’s pommel horse routine as an area in which the sophomore has improved. The first-year head coach cites the vault and floor exercise as events in which Shemansky needs to improve to compete in the all-around competition, something he did in the 2010 Big Ten championships.

Senior Ben Ketelsen has been impressed with the way guys such as Shemansky have stepped up with both Jiang and Ketelsen beset by injuries.

“It was really important for our younger guys to step up, especially with only two seniors in the lineup,” Ketelsen said. “It’s definitely encouraging that they were able to do that.”

Iowa’s meet on Saturday against California is an important one for Shemansky, because it serves as a sort of homecoming. The sophomore hails from Los Gatos, Calif., which is located a little more than 50 miles from Berkeley. He said he has been looking forward to the meet, his first in his home state.

Unsurprisingly, he hopes to be at his best for the Big Ten and NCAA championships. He said if he keeps completing good routines in the postseason competitions, more rewards will come.

“I just need to stay as consistent as possible and continue hitting my sets, and we’ll see where that takes me,” he said. “Hopefully, it takes me pretty far.”

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