McGrath named All-American

BY RYAN MURPHY | APRIL 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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Before the NCAA championships, senior Mike Jiang said Iowa's gymnastics team would have a great meet or a disappointing meet.

"For us, it's hit or miss," the senior said.

For sophomore Matt McGrath, three hits on vault made him an All-American.

McGrath, who entered the competition ranked 29th in the country, scored a 15.900 on April 16 at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio, which earned the Hawkeye a fifth-place finish in the national finals. McGrath's efforts were rewarded with All-American honors, received by the top-eight gymnasts in each event. Oklahoma's Jacob Dalton won the national title with a vault of 16.550.

McGrath said it was great to see his hard work validated.

"It's what I've been training for all season," he said. "I just did what I needed to do."

The last Hawkeye to earn All-American honors on vault was Geoff Reins, who finished second in the nation in 2009. McGrath is Iowa's 13th vault All-American in program history. His achievement marks the 25th time the Iowa's men's gymnastics team has produced an All-American in the last 26 years.

Iowa head coach JD Reive said McGrath's performance showed everyone how good the sophomore can be.

"He had a great vault," the first-year head coach said. "It wasn't even his best vault, and that really shows how good he can be."

In his opening season as head coach, Reive said he was excited to have an All-American, especially one who has two more years of eligibility.

McGrath, who vaulted third in the finals, saw the first two vaulters hit nearly perfect routines and knew he'd need to nail his vault.

"After I went, I kept dropping [in the standings], and then the last five guys all missed their routine, and I knew it was happening — I was going to be an All-American," he said.

McGrath qualified for the individual finals on April 15, when the Wheaton, Ill., native scored a 16.050, good enough to tie for seventh place and be one of 10 to move on to the individual finals.

Five other Hawkeyes competed on April 15, although none were able to advance to the final day of competition.

After McGrath, the next highest Hawkeye was sophomore Anton Gryshayev, scored a 14.850 on the rings, giving the Littleton, Colo., native a 21st-place finish. Other competing Hawkeyes were Jiang, senior Ben Ketelsen, junior Javier Balboa, and freshman Sam Wright. Jiang, who was a pommel horse All-American in 2010, finished 24th on April 15 to end his Hawkeye career.

Reive's former team, Stanford, claimed the team national championship by scoring a 363.450 on April 15. Michigan freshman Sam Mikulak added to his Big Ten all-around championship by winning the all-around national championship.

Reive said McGrath's All-American honor capped off an extremely successful weekend for the Hawkeyes.

"It was almost a perfect meet for us," he said. "We had a great weekend."

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