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GymHawks try to conclude season in good spirits

BY RYAN PROBASCO | APRIL 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s gymnastics team will travel to the campus of Penn State this weekend to compete in the NCAA championships. The event will last three days, with the National Qualifier on Friday, team finals scheduled for Saturday and the event finals on April 21.

To advance to the finals, the Hawkeyes’ score today must be in the top three among all teams competing. The top three all-around competitors, as well as the top three individuals on each event that are not already on a qualified team will also advance.

The Hawkeyes are hopeful, yet confident, that their season will extend deep into this weekend’s event.

“The goal all year has been to make team finals,” redshirt sophomore Lance Alberhasky said. “We’re definitely capable. We’re in the second session on Friday, which is where judges have a tendency to score a little bit higher. As long as we go out and do our jobs we are fully capable of doing that.”

Last time out, Iowa finished sixth at the Big Ten championships in Minnesota. The Big Ten is likely to fare well in this weekend’s event, because all seven teams are ranked in the top 10 nationally by GymInfo.

Having already competed in the Big Ten championships, the Black and Gold have experienced participating in a large, competitive meet. They believe that gained experience will do wonders for them in this week’s competition.

“I think more than half of the team was competing in Big Tens for the first time last weekend,” senior all-around performer Brody Shemansky said. “Having that experience like last weekend is huge, because this is nothing like junior gymnastics. It’s a new atmosphere … Having that experience should help us tremendously.”

The Hawkeyes focused on refinement and pressure sets this week in practice to ensure their mental approach was sound this weekend.

“We have to keep the same pace,” senior Javier Balboa said. “We’ll pay a little more attention to detail. Those few mistakes and ways to gain tenths [of points] back will be our focus so we can boost our team score.”

Shemansky and Balboa were recently named to the first team All-Big Ten squad. Balboa received his first all-conference honor for his 15.500 score on the still rings. It was Shemansky’s second selection to the All-Big Ten team — he received the nod last year as well.

The first session of the National Qualifier is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. today, with the second beginning at 7 p.m. The entire competition will be held in the Rec Hall in University Park.

“Thus far this year we’ve struggled when it comes to big meets,” Shemansky said. “We’re a pretty young team and people falter here and there. But I think we’ve built up confidence, especially after being at Big Tens.

“I would really like it if the whole team could make it to the second day. That would keep my dream alive as an athlete, but it would also be a huge benchmark for this team to make it that far.”


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