Iowa men's gymnastics pulls off upset against No. 6 Minnesota


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By tying their season high score of 422.750, the Iowa men’s  Gymnastics team knocked off sixth-ranked Minnesota in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 8. The Hawkeyes were without two key contributors in freshmen Matt Loochtan and Jack Boyle, but used their depth successfully on the way to victory.

Boyle and Loochtan missed the meet because they were in Las Vegas competing in the Winter Cup Challenge. The event is meant to help determine the 15 men who will make up the U.S. men’s Senior National Team through the 2013 U.S. Championships in Hartford, Conn.

“With Jack and Matt being gone, we basically lost eight routines,” sophomore Lance Alberhasky said. “That’s a lot out of 36, but the guys did really well stepping up … That shows we have more depth than Minnesota.”

Iowa head coach JD Reive traveled to Las Vegas to be with the gymnasts for the event and took a red-eye flight back in time for the matchup against Minnesota.

“It’s a wicked-competitive event, because those are the best guys in the country,” Reive said. “So we didn’t have the tangible success we wanted, but they were there, and it was phenomenal, and they did a great job. Regardless of where they ended up, it was nice to see the training process coming together.”

Senior Javier Balboa paced the Hawkeyes’ success in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The senior from Monterrey, Mexico, won the parallel bars as well as the all-around. Senior Anton Gryshayev claimed another victory in the still rings with a score of 15.100. The Littleton, Colo., native was recently ranked No. 1 nationally on the rings by GymInfo.

Senior Brody Shemansky’s performance was crucial to the GymHawks’ victory as well. The all-around gymnast placed in the top-three in two events Friday. His scores of a 13.950 on the high bar and 14.000 on the pommel horse were both good enough for second place. Shemansky credited the team’s intensity last week in practice for their successful day on the mat.

“Keeping up the energy and staying focused are big parts of our training that we’re trying to change,” the native of Los Gatos, Calif., said. “This week, we tried to keep the intensity up every day and in every event.”

The Hawkeyes next scheduled event is Saturday, when they will travel to Champaign to take on Illinois, the defending national champions. Roster overhaul hasn’t affected Illinois too severely this season; it is ranked seventh nationally by GymInfo, but injuries have taken their toll. Gymnast CJ Maestas will miss all of the 2013 campaign because of a triceps injury he suffered in practice last fall.

The sophomore was the recipient of last year’s Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award.

The Hawkeyes have not beaten the Illini during Reive’s tenure as head coach, but Alberhasky and the rest of the Hawkeye squad as confident as ever that they can beat the defending champs.

“Competing against the national champs is intimidating, of course,” Alberhasky said. “But we’re right there with them. If we can do what we did today — hit sets and focus on the little things — we’re right there with them. We can beat Illinois.”

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