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Women GymHawks are ready for their return to Carver

BY MATT CABEL | FEBRUARY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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After three weeks of away meets against difficult Big Ten opponents, the GymHawks are ready to return to the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where they will face Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. today.

“It was just a long time on the road,” Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said. “A month of Big Ten teams is hard. I think it’s just the comfort of knowing we’re coming back home and we’ve got all week to be here.”

Libby said the Hawkeyes performed a little sluggishly in their last meet after travel complications on the weekend of Jan. 26 left half the team in Detroit. The team’s return on Monday canceled its practice and disrupted the normal workout schedule.

Today marks the halfway point of the regular season, and as expected, the GymHawks seem to have found their stride. The team has improved their score on the balance beam drastically after back-to-back poor performances in their first two meets.

Notching career high-scores has been a trend for the GymHawks this season. Sophomore Sydney Hoerr tallied a career high 9.85 on the bars against Michigan, which won her second place in the event. The team also achieved a season high 49 on the floor — an event in which Iowa is ranked 19th nationally.

Small details are again a focus for the GymHawks going into this weekend’s meet. Libby stressed the importance of this fact in last week’s practice as well, but wasn’t pleased with the little things against the Wolverines.

“Mostly I think we’re looking forward to have another chance for redemption and improve our scores,” senior Maya Wickus said. “All the little details: landings, handstands, and just keep racking up our scores.”

Despite being a predominantly young team, the GymHawks are tired of being considered underdogs. They may not be this weekend — their team average of 194.525 is more than 2 points higher than Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago’s average scores of 192.475 and 192.7, respectively.

“I expect a win,” sophomore Jessica Morreale said. “We’re the underdogs this year, and we’re coming up strong.”

When her team returns to Carver-Hawkeye, Libby has high expectations for the fans. While she knows it won’t draw the same numbers, she wants the spectators to be as loud as the spectators of last weekend’s Iowa/Penn State wrestling meet.

“We need to teach our fans that while gymnastics is a beautiful sport, fans are still supposed to be rowdy, and obnoxious, and get everything that they can,” Libby said. “It’s what motivates them; it’s why they want to come home.”


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