Hawkeye women's gymnastics preparing one week at a time

BY MATT CABEL | MARCH 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s been a long season for the Iowa women’s gymnastics team.

The team has gone through struggles on the balance beam, numerous lineup changes, and many season-ending injuries but has prevailed through it all — it’s currently the No. 25 team in the nation.

The injuries have forced the GymHawks to adjust quickly. They’ll have one more chance to perfect everything when they compete in a quad-meet against Southern Utah, San Jose State, and Ball State tonight in Cedar City, Utah, to conclude the regular season.

“We’ve had to be smart; we’ve had to make some changes,” Hawkeye head coach Larissa Libby said. “Any coach will tell you that if you don’t have the word adjust in your plan, then you’re not a good coach — you’re not seeing far enough ahead.”

Despite the injuries, Libby’s squad performed the best it has all season against Iowa State on March 8, when the GymHawks scored a season-high 196.375 score. The team’s strong performance, with senior Kaitlynn Urano’s injury still fresh on their minds, prompted Libby to call the meet a “night that will go down in Iowa women’s gymnastics history as the greatest night ever.”

“It was under the worst circumstances you could have ever possibly been in with the least amount of depth we’ve ever had in my 13 years of being here,” Libby said. “If you don’t keep them focused and believing that we can still win a championship, then I’m not a good head coach; I’m not doing what I promised them I would do.”

The GymHawks are taking the preparation one day at a time with the March 23 Big Ten championship looming. Freshman Kyra Trowbridge said the Hawks must “go into the meet and nail it” before they can focus on the Big Ten championships and beyond.

“I just feel like I need to do everything possible for [the team],” she said. “This is my job; I feel like I owe it to them.”

Trowbridge also knows her and her teammates need to stay healthy.

“We need to make sure that everyone’s doing quality instead of quantity [routines],” she said. “We need to come in and do what we need to do at the best quality possible so that we’re not getting tired and not having to do more — that’s when you can get hurt.”

While the gymnasts focus on the day to day, Libby and her coaching staff have to look at the greater picture.

All season, Libby has pushed the team toward one goal: being Big Ten champions. She remains confident about that outlook, injuries or not.

“All we can do now is just hit,” senior Emma Stevenson said March 8. “Stay close, stay focused and stay goal oriented toward what we want. I think we have a good shot of placing well at Big Tens, regionals, and possibly nationals. You never know, you can’t count someone out until it’s all over — I think we’re still very much contenders in all three aspects.”

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