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New NCAA scoring format doesn't faze GymHawks

BY RYAN PROBASCO | FEBRUARY 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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The old men’s gymnastics format showcased six gymnasts competing in each event, but only four (five this season) scores counted toward the team score. But in an effort to make the sport easier to follow for fans and to build excitement at meets, the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Committee proposed a modification in July 2012.

Starting on Friday, the new rule will take effect — five gymnasts will compete in each event, and all five scores will count toward the team total.

“With five guys competing and all five scores counting, it is fairly simple to follow,” committee head Mark Williams told NCAA.org on July 13. “When we have six guys up and two of the scores can be dropped, it isn’t as clear. It is complicated for fans to keep track of how a team is doing.”

The NCAA decided to allow six gymnasts to compete in each event with five scores counting toward the team score for the first half of the 2013 season in order to help teams transition into the new format. Beginning this weekend, that transition will end.

The No. 8 Iowa men’s gymnastics team is riding a three-meet winning streak — all three have been against teams ranked in the top 10 nationally. The Hawkeyes believe their best performances are ahead of them, despite the adversity the team might face with the new scoring system.

“I think it works really well for us,” sophomore Lance Alberhasky said. “The top teams have a little bit more difficulty than us, but with difficulty comes risk. I think it really benefits us. If anyone has anything that really messes up, it’s anyone’s game.”

The new format will increase the number of upsets that occur because teams aren’t allowed to drop their weaker scores. If a team lacks consistency and depth or is prone to missing sets, it’s not likely to fare well.

To combat the challenge of adopting the new format, the Hawkeyes will focus on cleaning up their routines rather than revamping them completely.

“The biggest thing is going to be the attention to little details,” sophomore William Albert said. “We can gain tenths back by pointing our toes harder, straightening our knees, and making sure everything finishes in a sharp position. Those are the things we’re going to be working on.”

Iowa head coach JD Reive and the rest of the coaching staff will be faced with difficult decisions in regards to their lineup and the specific routines and skills they choose to use.

Specialty gymnasts will have a tougher time cracking the lineup if they cannot be trusted to consistently hit sets. The all-around gymnasts’ performances must be sound if the Hawks want their recent success to continue.

Regardless of the lineups they use or the routines they tweak, confidence will not be an issue for the Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes are not the most talented squad in the country, but with their consistency and depth, they believe the new system will help them.

“I think we can be a team that just hits and hits and hits and never really stops,” sophomore Mitchell Landau said following the team’s Feb. 23 win against Nebraska. “I think that will help us win when five-up, five-count comes, because there’s no throwing away a score — you can’t mess up. And I think we can be a team that does that. It will help us more than it hurts us.”


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