Iowa men's gymnasts battle through injuries


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The Iowa men's gymnastics team will face Illinois-Chicago on Saturday at the Physical Education Building in Chicago without the services of at least one — and possibly two — NCAA qualifiers.

2011 All-American Matt McGrath has been hampered by a knee injury, and he only competed in two events against Illinois; he skipped the floor exercise and vault, his two best events. McGrath will not compete against Illinois-Chicago, but Iowa head coach JD Reive said the junior should be back for the Feb. 11 meet against Minnesota and Nebraska.

The Hawkeyes — who lost sophomore Lance Alberhasky to a torn Achilles tendon before the season — also saw junior Anton Gryshayev, who has been Iowa's leader on rings, suffer a concussion during the floor exercise against Illinois that caused him to miss the remainder of the meet.

Reive said Gryshayev's status for Saturday's competition was still up in the air, and the Littleton, Colo., native would be most needed on rings, his best event and one on which the Hawkeyes are short on competitors.

The second-year Iowa coach said the Hawkeyes need replacements for McGrath and Gryshayev to step in and perform with confidence.

"The guys who are filling those spots need to get out there and have some confidence, like we did last weekend, but keep the momentum all the way through six events instead of killing it after five," Reive said.

Even with the depleted lineup, the Hawkeyes have a chance to redeem their season-opening performance at the Windy City Invitational. Iowa's score of 316.800 was the lowest score since the new scoring system was implemented in 2008.

Junior Brody Shemansky said the Hawkeyes have a chip on their shoulders after finishing more than 10 points behind Illinois-Chicago two weeks ago.

"There's some problem areas with guys out injured, but we are absolutely going to have an extra edge this weekend," Shemansky said. "We want to show them what we're worth."

Fellow junior Javier Balboa, who has been the brightest spot for the Hawkeyes after their first two competitions, said he's taking an individual approach to helping the Hawkeyes bounce back against Illinois-Chicago.

"I want to continue improving my all-around score and help the team score, because the better my all-around is, the better the team is," Balboa said.

Reive said his focus is less on the Flames and more on improving the Hawkeyes, and success will come naturally if Iowa performs up to the expected level."The good side of this is, it's not necessarily us versus them; it's us versus us," he said. "We are our own worst enemy. We're hitting 20-25 percent of our routines, and we need to be up around 75 percent at this point.

"I'm not concerned about beating them. If we are anywhere near where we should be, we will."

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