GymHawks upset undefeated Gophers
The Iowa women’s gymnastics team is used to being considered underdogs — its youth has earned the squad the designation from the beginning of the season.
The evening of Feb. 22 may have changed that mindset.
Minnesota was in town, taking an undefeated record to Iowa City. The GymHawks wanted to change that and did, winning the meet with a score of 195.725-195.550.
The GymHawks have three seniors, no juniors, and 12 underclassmen. All season long, they’ve accepted that underdog mentality. While the team had come close to winning meets against numerous Big Ten squads ranked in the top 25, Feb. 22 marked their first success against a top-15 team.
The GymHawks entered the meet with two goals: continue to have an undefeated season in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and achieve an overall score of 196 — goals that the team split.
“It’s hard,” senior Emma Stevenson said of her team not reaching its points goal. “We didn’t go better than last weekend, but we beat a team that’s ranked twice as high as us — but it’s still a really good feeling [to win].”
The GymHawks had their biggest successes in the all-around competition and on the floor.
Sophomores Emma Willis and Sydney Hoerr placed second and third place in the all around with scores of 39.300 and 39.050. Stevenson scored a 9.9 out of 10 on the floor, a performance that sealed the GymHawks’ upset and matched her career high.
“Honestly, it felt like the same routine I do every time,” Stevenson said. “Apparently, the judges saw something different. It was really good — it was a good competition. I’m glad I was able to pull through for my team and contribute to this win against Minnesota.”
Stevenson also had a strong performance on the bars, tying for first place with Willis with a score of 9.825.
“What a fantastic night for her,” Iowa head gymnastics coach Larissa Libby said. “[She was] clutch coming down to it, needing that 9.9 to win and delivering every time. She’s done a really great job with this team, keeping them focused, disciplined, and looking at the right things.”
After poor performances on the balance beam cost the GymHawks a win (and a potential 196 overall score) against Illinois on Feb. 16, they rebounded against the Gophers. The team had high scoring performances, led by Hoerr and senior Kaitlynn Urano, who both scored a 9.775.
Upset or not, it’s back to work for the Black and Gold this week, Libby said. Freshman Alie Glover believes that for the team to reach its goal of hitting 196 and beyond, the Hawkeyes will need to work one goal at a time.
“From here, we just try to take it one step at a time,” she said. “Fix all those little things we’ve been talking about: landings are a big thing, hand stands, stuff like that. We’re still working on the little things.”
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