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GymHawks show glimpses of high potential in 2013 campaign

BY MATT CABEL | APRIL 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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The 2013 Iowa women’s gymnastics season might be best remembered as small glimpse of what’s to come. The team’s final roster consisted of 16 members — 13 of whom were underclassmen.

The GymHawk’s campaign came to a close on April 6 with a sixth-place finish and 194.475 score in Norman, Okla., when the team competed against five other teams for two spots in the NCAA championships. The young squad was forced to get younger after numerous season-ending injuries. Freshman Alyssa Lopez, sophomore Jessica Morreale and senior Kaitlynn Urano’s seasons ended earlier than expected as the team was having success in the middle of the season.

“We had our high and low points,” sophomore Sydney Hoerr said. “Overall, we found success as a team. The best part about our team is that we stick together no matter what happens — we always back each other up.” The team began its season in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 11, scoring a 193.375 in a victory over Ball State. While the team’s final score of the season a point higher — a 194.475 in the NCAA regional — the team showed its capabilities numerous times throughout the season.

A day after Urano broke her tibia and fibula on March 7, the team earned a 196.375 overall score against Iowa State, its highest score all season. But the constantly changing lineups that were filled with young gymnasts caused the team to never achieve any sort of stability after that meet. “It involved a lot of growing up for them,” senior Emma Stevenson said about the underclassmen. “As seniors, we had to help out such a young team — sometimes as a senior, you forget the things that are obvious to you, but a freshman doesn’t know yet.”

Another highlight of the season was the team’s defeat of then-undefeated Minnesota on Feb. 22. Although the team’s 195.725 overall score fell below the team’s goal of 196, the defeat of the Gophers propelled the team into the nation’s top 25. But the team couldn’t replicate its success and struggled when the scores mattered most. The Hawkeyes suffered from numerous falls and small mistakes in the Big Ten championships and NCAA regional, which resulted in the team earning lower overall scores in the postseason than at the end of the regular season.

Kyra Trowbridge was the GymHawk’s breakout star. After graduating high school after the fall 2012 semester, Trowbridge immediately joined the program, competing in the team’s first meet. She led the team in three of four events during the Big Ten championships and on two events in the NCAA regional. Trowbridge tied her career-high, a 9.9 for her floor routine in the Big Ten competition and earned a career-high 9.9 on vault in the NCAA regional. The latter earned her third place in Norman. “That kid loves to compete,” head coach Larissa Libby told The Daily Iowan on April 3. “She’s at her best on a competition floor — she has very much matured and grown in a very short time since she’s been here … honestly, without her, we’d be in a lot of trouble.”

Next season, the GymHawks will have no seniors on the roster, putting the junior and sophomore class in leadership roles sooner than normal. But if the highs of the 2013 campaign are to be believed, the team could find itself on the podium when championship season rolls around. “We learned how important it is to push each other in and outside of the gym,” Hoerr said. “It’s not just in the gym where things get accomplished — the things that you do outside of the gym that affect you in the gym.

“We’re just going to focus on the all-around package.”


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