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Hawkeye men's gymnasts close out regular season with win against Illinois-Chicago

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

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The No. 10 Iowa men’s gymnastics team toppled No. 15 Illinois-Chicago on March 30 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 428.300-400.300. The event, which marked the last home competition for five Hawkeye seniors, was the final official tuneup for the Black and Gold before postseason competition begins this coming weekend.

“That was awesome,” senior all-around gymnast Javier Balboa said. “It was a perfect way to say goodbye to Iowa and Carver as a home arena.”

The Monterrey, Mexico, native paced the Hawkeyes in several events, capturing individual titles on the still rings and parallel bars. Balboa also won all-around, scoring 86.800.

“He had one of his best meets of the season,” senior teammate Anton Gryshayev said. “It was his goal all year to keep climbing up and up. He’s led by example for us all year. And this meet showed that he’s peaking at the right time.”

Balboa and Gryshayev, along with seniors Brody Shemansky, Jack McClay, and Todd Becker, were honored following the meet for their contributions to the Iowa men’s gymnastics program. Third-year head coach JD Reive was flexible with his lineup choices to honor the departing seniors.

“For the seniors we let a few guys do a couple extra sets as exhibition, and they did a great job with it,” Reive said. “It was just a great meet all-around for everybody and for that group in particular.”

Shemansky and freshman Matt Loochtan also captured individual event titles. Shemansky’s score of 14.400 earned him first place on the high bar. Loochtan paced all performers on the vault with a score of 14.600.

Iowa will now shift its focus to postseason competition. The Big Ten championship is scheduled to take place this weekend in Minneapolis. The two-day event will likely be a grueling challenge for the Hawkeyes, as GymInfo ranks all seven Big Ten teams in the top-10 nationally.

Reive and the rest of his coaching staff don’t think the Hawks will need to drastically alter their approach in preparation for the event. The team will work instead on small details and repetition this week in practice.

“We’re just going to keep rolling,” Reive said. “At this point, it’s all refinement. They’re in super good shape. They look good, and they’re comfortable and confident … We’ll go to Minnesota and try to do the same thing we did here.”

Despite the challenging competition awaiting them this weekend, the Hawkeyes are confident in their ability and believe a top-3 finish is a real possibility. Balboa cited the new NCAA scoring format as proof that anything is possible once the meet gets underway.

“It’s hard to say what’s going to happen,” the senior said. “With the five-up, five-count format, anything can happen. So our approach as a team is to just hit sets and hit as many high percentages that we can. We’ll just do the best that we can do.”


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