Hawkeye gymnasts reflect fondly on surprising season


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Fresh off an impressive fifth-place finish in this past weekend’s NCAA championships, members of the Iowa men’s gymnastics team took time to reflect on the squad’s highly successful season.

Its showing at the NCAAs marked the program’s best finish since 2000, when the Hawkeyes placed third. Men’s gymnastics at Iowa has incrementally improved each year since head coach JD Reive’s arrival in 2010.

“His inspiration to revamp the system is something I’ve really taken away during my time here,” senior Brody Shemansky said.

The top-five finish will not only give returning members of the squad confidence, but future recruits may also see Iowa’s recent ascent as proof that the program is on the rise.

“The program has been struggling for quite a while, so to finally get it back as one of the top teams in the nation is just awesome,” redshirt sophomore Lance Alberhasky said. “That’s what JD has wanted the whole time, and he’s making it happen.”

The regular season was highlighted by the Black and Gold’s three dual-meet winning streak against teams ranked in the top 10 nationally. The streak included a thrilling upset against defending national champion Illinois on Feb. 16.

Iowa finished its grueling Big Ten schedule with a 3-1 record and placed sixth at the Big Ten championships on April 5.

Shemansky and senior Javier Balboa were named to the first team All-Big Ten after the event in Minneapolis. Balboa’s selection was the first of his career; Shemansky received the honor for the second time.

The Hawkeyes had struggled in larger, multiple-team competitions prior to the NCAA championships. Anton Gryshayev, a native of Littleton, Colo., believes his team’s success at the NCAAs was due in large part to the training program Reive has instilled at Iowa.

The coach and the rest of the staff design the training methods in a way that ensures gymnasts will be in optimal shape when postseason competition begins.    

“I think what went right [at the NCAAs] was we all came together as a team in the right place and at the right time,” departing senior Gryshayev said. “We executed what we’ve been practicing all year long.”

Gryshayev, as well as Balboa, earned All-American honors at the NCAAs. Balboa received the award for his performances on the still rings and in the all-around competition. Gryshayev earned his on the still rings.

Reive held a team meeting after the events concluded this past Sunday. He said that nothing more could be asked of them and that this type of success is only the beginning of what should be a powerhouse program in the near future.

Alberhasky will be relied on heavily next season, because several senior contributors will graduate this spring. The Iowa City native is more than ready for the challenge, and he has set lofty goals for himself and the team next year.

“He [Reive] has bigger plans for us next year, which I totally agree with,” Alberhasky said.

“Individually, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to this past weekend. I didn’t have any major mistakes, but I also didn’t hit the best routines I know I can hit.

“My plan is to All-American next year. I need that for how much effort I put into the gym and into this team.”

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