Big Ten Championships: Iowa men's gymnasts face 'B1G' stage

BY RYAN MURPHY | APRIL 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Big Ten championships are the second-biggest event in college gymnastics, ranking only behind the NCAA meet in terms of importance.

The event is even more important for the Iowa men's gymnastics team, because it will be held in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes will host the conference championships for the first time since 2006. Competition will begin tonight with the team and all-around finals. It will continue Saturday night with event finals, which consist of the top 10 competitors on each event based on the previous night's scores. Action will begin at 7 p.m. each day and will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

Iowa head coach JD Reive said he feels his team is ready for the explosion of talent it will see.

"I'm really comfortable with where we are in terms of the peaking process, because our last two weeks have been really good," he said. "Our mental state is good, our physical state is good, and it's going to be a matter of going out and trusting everything we have done for the last two years."

The hometown Big Ten championships have been a point of emphasis for over a year, and junior Brody Shemansky said the anticipation level has reached a peak for the Hawkeyes. He said he feels the team has done everything necessary to prepare.

"It's an exciting feeling, especially that it's on our home turf," Shemansky said. "We're ready to go, and we've looked good in practice all year. Hopefully, we can go out and show the Big Ten what we've got."

The Hawkeyes finished no lower than third place in each of the four previous Big Ten championships held in Iowa City — 1983, 1990, 1999, and 2006. Recent history hasn't been as kind to Iowa, though. The Black and Gold have finished in last place five years in a row.

Reive said he's looking to his junior class — specifically Matt McGrath, Javier Balboa, Anton Gryshayev, and Shemansky — to lead the Hawkeyes, both on and off the mat.

Gryshayev, Balboa, and Shemansky are all ranked in the top 20 of an event. They make up three of the 48 ranked gymnasts in the Big Ten.

"The junior class really needs to show up and enjoy what they're doing," Reive said. "Hopefully, as upperclassmen, that's what it becomes; you have to be a performer, and you can't let anything faze you."

Iowa recorded a season-high score against Nebraska in the regular-season finale, providing much-needed momentum heading into the conference championships. McGrath said the Hawkeyes' last meet — and a successful two weeks of training — will help the Hawkeyes when some of the brightest lights in the gymnastics world are shining on the Hawkeyes.

"We have a lot of momentum going into this event," McGrath said. "We've had a good week of practice, so we're looking forward to it."

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

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