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No. 8 GymHawks look to complete season sweep of Minnesota

BY RYAN PROBASCO | MARCH 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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The eighth-ranked Iowa men’s gymnastics team will try to build upon its recent success on Saturday when it travels to Minneapolis to take on No. 7 Minnesota. A win for the Hawks would mark a season sweep of the Gophers — Iowa defeated Minnesota, 422.750-419.450 on Feb. 8.

The Hawkeyes are riding a three-dual meet winning streak— all three have been against teams ranked in the top 10 nationally. But despite their recent success in Big Ten competition, senior all-around performer Javier Balboa is certain his squad won’t overlook Saturday’s competition.

“Just like at every point, we’re not trying to get too ahead of ourselves,” he said. “We have to look at the big picture. We can only focus on our scoring. This week, we have to focus all of our energy into ourselves.”

Iowa head coach JD Reive echoed that mentality and has been preaching consistency and focus this week in practice.

“We’ve definitely got some momentum going,” the third-year head coach said. “We talked about this in practice. It’s important that the kids continue to do what’s allowed us to carry that momentum, which is to do their job and their gymnastics and not step out of what’s allowed us success.”

Saturday will mark the first competition in which the Hawkeyes will compete under the new five-up, five-count scoring format. Previously, six gymnasts competed in each event, but only five scores counted. Starting today, the NCAA rule will change. From now on, only five gymnasts will compete in each event, and all five scores will count.

In preparation for the new format, the Black and Gold have tried not to change much about their approach. The only thing that will change for them, Reive said, is the way their scores will be written by the judges. The gymnasts, though, have been pushing each other in practice, knowing all of their routines will be counted, regardless of the score.

“We’ve been working on a lot of pressure sets this week because it will be the first competition with the new scoring format,” sophomore Lance Alberhasky said. “JD has really been emphasizing staying on the event. And if you do make a mistake, finish the routine and don’t throw it away because any thrown-away routine would be devastating to our team score.”

A win Saturday would push the Hawkeyes to 4-0 in Big Ten competition and extend their winning streak to four. In Reive’s tenure at Iowa, his squad had never won two dual competitions in a row prior to this season. But despite Iowa gymnastics’ unfamiliarity with this kind of success, Reive, and the rest of his coaching staff are confident the team can continue to raise the bar.   

“When they get out there on the floor and raise their hand, they’re still doing the same routine they’ve been doing and the same event they’ve been doing,” Reive said. “Nothing changes. Hopefully, they understand that and I can provide a little bit of comfort in the performance aspect of that … We have everything we need to accomplish a win this weekend.”


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