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All-around gymnasts key to GymHawks success

BY MATT CABEL | DECEMBER 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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Every sport has its position of glory.

Like the quarterback in football or the pitcher in baseball, an all-around gymnast is always in the spotlight.

An all-around gymnast participates in all four of the events for every meet: bars, floor, vault, and beam. While gymnasts may have a favorite event, they are expected to score evenly and consistently in all four events.

Iowa women’s gymnastics head coach Larissa Libby deemed it a “tremendous asset” to have three or four all-around gymnasts on a roster. This year’s GymHawks have four active all-arounders: sophomores Emma Willis and Sydney Hoerr and freshmen Alie Glover and Alyssa Lopez.

“The all-arounders are kind of the stability,” Libby said. “They’re the ones that do all four events, and they compete consistently on all four events. Sometimes, your all-arounders aren’t so spectacular here or there, but they’re great and even on all four.”

While Libby said she has had senior all-around gymnasts during her nine years at Iowa, young members of the team mostly begin as all-around and focus on fewer events in their later years.

Injury usually prevents a gymnast from competing in all four events for their entire career, especially with the strain the sport puts on a gymnast’s body.

Sophomore all-arounder Willis said she must be prepared for anything.

“When you do a certain event, like one over the other, you have a little bit more time to concentrate on that one thing,” she said. “When you’re an all-arounder, you have to focus on everything.”

The all-around Hawkeye gymnasts work on three events during each practice. Each gymnast practices bars and beam daily, but Libby prefers her all-arounders to practice either vault or beam on a daily basis.

 “It’s a lot to keep up with for an all-arounder,” Libby said. “They’re counted on for a reason. They’re doing more, they’re training at a higher level, higher quality.”

Being an all-around gymnast gives Glover an opportunity to make an impact on the team and prove herself dependable, even as a first-year member of the squad.

“As an all-arounder, people are depending on you to hit four events no matter what,” she said. “I’d like to say as I transition into collegiate gymnastics, I can become very dependent on myself and know that my teammates can trust me.”

Focus may be the biggest key for the gymnasts in competing in all four events. Oddly, this is a quality Libby usually sees include seasoned athletes who are comfortable competitors.

“It’s such a glory position, but at the same time, it’s not so glorified, because they’re having to put it so much more work just to stay even,” Libby said. “But … there’s nothing like being able to stand up at the podium at the end as the best all-arounder in the competition.”


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