Big Ten Championships: Iowa's Shemansky named to conference's top team

BY RYAN MURPHY | APRIL 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa junior Brody Shemansky beamed as he grasped a trophy emblazoned with the emblem of the Big Ten, standing alone as Carver-Hawkeye Arena emptied for the final time in the 2012 gymnastics season.

"This feels good," Shemansky said. "I got a nice little trophy here to take home."

Shemansky's hardware represented his selection as a first-team All-Big Ten gymnast on April 7. The Los Gatos, Calif., native become the first Iowa gymnast to claim the honor since Geoff Reins was recognized in 2009.

Shemansky joined such gymnasts as Big Ten all-around champion C.J. Maestas of Illinois and dual-event-winners Paul Ruggeri of Illinois and Michigan's Sam Mikulak on the Big Ten's first team.

Iowa head coach JD Reive — for whom Shemansky was the first all-conference competitor as a Hawkeye head coach — said it was the junior's recognition was a monumental achievement in the best conference in men's gymnastics.

"That's really cool for him," Reive said. "It's been a battle all year to get him to be a consistent all-arounder; for him to do that was a huge step in his career, and it's a great accomplishment for him."

Shemansky placed sixth in the conference on the all-around on April 6, which led the Hawkeyes to a sixth-place team finish. But Shemansky's all-around achievement wasn't enough to qualify for the individual finals on April 7. Teammates senior Zach Cazabon, junior Matt McGrath, and junior Javier Balboa represented the Hawkeyes on pommel horse, vault, and parallel bars, respectively, on the second day of the competition.

Shemansky had only competed in the all-around sparingly entering the 2012 season — and only during his freshman campaign. But the junior blossomed into the Hawkeyes' all-around leader, culminating in a season-high score in his home arena.

A 14.600 on the parallel bars, another season-high, highlighted Shemansky's night. Shemansky tied Balboa on the event, but Balboa advanced to the individual final based on national ranking.

McGrath said Shemansky's honor was not only an achievement for the junior but a mark of pride for the entire team.

"It's big for our program to get that kind of recognition, and it's huge momentum for him," McGrath said. "He's starting to peak at the right time."

Despite being named as one of the top gymnasts in the best conference in front of an enthusiastic crowd in his home arena, Shemansky is not done.

He said he knows how much work went into his honor — and how much work remains in the next two weeks before the NCAA championships, which will be held April 19-21 in Norman, Okla.

"I put in a lot of hard work, but we need to keep going," Shemansky said. "We're not done yet. We still have NCAAs and we need to keep the momentum to finish the year with a great meet."

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

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