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Details key for women's gymnasts' second half of season

BY ALEX FRENCH | FEBRUARY 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa women's gymnastics team (2-3-1, 1-2-1 Big Ten) has hit the halfway point of the 2012 season with six meets under its belt.

Not everything has gone smoothly, but senior Jessa Hansen said the team and coaches have identified what needs to be addressed in practice. Now, the Hawkeyes are focusing on details for the second half of the season.

"We know what we need to do to improve," she said. "[We're working on] skills aggressively and sticking landings, especially. It's the last thing the judges see, so it's like an exclamation point."

Freshman all-around competitor Emma Willis said improving the performance aspect of events — like the choreography of the floor routine — will result in an important scoring boost, too.

"We're focusing a lot on details, like little steps on landings," she said. "But it's a combination of arts and details. We're trying our best to get our scores to count."

Iowa's performance Feb. 17 against Iowa State resulted in the GymHawks' second-highest beam score of the season — a 48.375. The beam had been a problem for the Hawkeyes; assistant coach Caleb Phillips said the team put the event on a pedestal. But now, Iowa has the confidence — a large component in the balance beam — to remain consistent.

"It was a big confidence-boost for us," Phillips said. "We know that if scoring is tight, we can hit and score well [on beam]."

From here, Phillips said, the team can focus on details to improve both individual and team scores.

"They look sharp, and last weekend was telltale," he said. "We want to salvage as many details as we can. Once we get over the hump, it'll be all downhill."

With the Big Ten championships looming exactly one month away, Iowa could be hitting its stride at the right time. Hansen admitted one eye is on March 24, but said the other is on tonight's meet against No. 22 Minnesota.

"[The Big Ten meet is] always in the back of our head," she said. "We want to improve every meet, but we can't look too far ahead."

Phillips wants and expects postseason competition out of his gymnasts. But for now, he said, there's no point looking to March when a nationally ranked team is visiting this weekend.

"We train all season long with the idea to be solid and consistent," he said. "We take things one meet at a time. We want to be solid and consistent [each meet]."

Follow DI women's gymnastics reporter Alex French on Twitter.


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