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Men's gymnasts return to Carver

BY RYAN MURPHY | JANUARY 20, 2012 7:20 AM

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This weekend's home-opener for the Iowa men's gymnastics team will bring the Hawkeyes back to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a venue in which they have not competed since March 2010.

No. 13 Iowa will take on No. 6 Illinois at 5 p.m. Saturday. The men's team will compete at the same time as the women's squad, which will also face the Illini.

Head coach JD Reive said competing in Carver-Hawkeye — as opposed to the Field House, which was the team's home in 2011 — gives the meets a more intense atmosphere.

"It makes it feel a lot more realistic, and it has a much different feel," said Reive, who will coach in the arena for the first time. "It has a championship feel."

He noted that the bigger venue puts his team on a large stage instead of the more intimate environment in the Field House.

"There's a different energy in the Field House, but realistically, the guys put themselves in a bigger pressure situation there [Carver-Hawkeye] — which I think will help us," Iowa's second-year head coach said.

Junior Matt McGrath said competing in Carver-Hawkeye Arena is an adrenaline boost for him and his teammates.

"It's a big venue, and it lets the fans get a little louder," he said. "The energy level shoots through the roof."

Fellow junior Brody Shemansky agreed. He said the Carver-Hawkeye environment is also beneficial for spectators, who can sit all the way around the competition space; seating in the Field house is limited to two sides of the space.

"It's exciting, and it feels like a real meet," Shemansky said. "People can see a lot more at Carver with the surrounded seating."

The team's entire home schedule will be contested at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, including the Big Ten championships in April, and Reive said competing in the arena on a regular basis will help the team prepare for the biggest meet of the year.

"Everything from the lighting to the setup has some sort of an effect, so it's good we get to work on it," Reive said.

Illinois was also the opponent in Iowa's last meet in Carver-Hawkeye, in 2010. The Illini were the preseason No. 1 before a third-place finish at the Windy City Invitational dropped the Illini to No. 6.

Reive said the challenge for the Hawkeyes in their first home meet will be to handle their nerves better than they did in the season-opening Windy City Invitational on Jan. 14, where the Black and Gold placed last of the six competing teams.

Reive said he expects his team to emulate what they do in practice after the disappointing season-opener.

"I just want to go out and do what we do in the gym," Reive said. "I don't want them to be afraid to do something that they do 100,000 times a week, and that's the biggest thing for us — to have and not be afraid."

Follow DI men's gymnastics reporter Ryan Murphy on Twitter.


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