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Confidence not an issue for GymHawks heading into Big Ten Championships

BY RYAN PROBASCO | APRIL 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s gymnastics team will begin postseason competition today when it travels to Minneapolis to compete in the Big Ten championships.

The Hawkeyes are confident in their ability and believe a top-three finish is possible, despite the conference’s stiff competition.

“The first two spots are fairly tight,” third-year head coach JD Reive said. “Everything after that, there are five teams that are battling it out. The team that hits the most routines is going to be the one on that third-place podium.

“It’s literally going to come down to the last event and last routine across the board.”

All seven Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 10 nationally by GymInfo, with the Hawkeyes coming into competition at No. 8.

Iowa closed out regular-season competition last weekend in a dual meet against Illinois-Chicago. Led by the efforts of all-around performer and reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Javier Balboa, the Hawkeyes defeated the Flames handedly by a score of 428.300-400.300.

Balboa took home three individual titles in the event. The native of Monterrey, Mexico, won the still rings, parallel bars, and the all-around competition with a score of 86.800.

“Javy’s the rock of this team right now,” sophomore Lance Alberhasky said. “He’s just a great all-around performer. If someone makes a mistake, we know Javy can go up and hit a set for us. We’re looking for a big score from him this weekend.”

The Hawkeyes chose not to drastically alter their approach and preparation this week in practice, despite the unique format of the Big Tens. Instead, they focused on small details to fix the finer points of their routines in preparation for the event.

“We’ve been preparing for this competition all year, so really our mental preparation is very similar to any other meet,” senior Brody Shemansky said. “We’re just going to go out there and stay mentally sound. If we do what we do in practice, we’ll be just fine.”

The Hawkeyes will compete in the NCAA championships following Big Tens. The competition is scheduled to take place in Penn State’s Recreation Building on April 19-21.

Action this weekend is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. today and Saturday in the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis. The entire two-day event will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

Alberhasky has yet to participate in a Big Ten championship. Injuries have prevented the redshirt sophomore from gaining that experience the past two seasons. But regardless, he’s confident in the team’s ability and expects to return to Iowa City with hardware in hand.

“We’ve been hitting sets, and the energy in the gym shows that we’re ready,” the Iowa City native said. “We’re going to come out really strong. We have no doubts in our minds that we can get on the podium.”


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