In the face of adversity


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The Iowa women’s gymnastics team has suffered a plethora of injuries this season, and — consequently— the GymHawks have a record of 0-5. 

The Hawkeyes are a young, inexperienced team with a 14-person roster composed of seven freshmen, four sophomores, and no seniors. So far this season, Iowa has faced three nationally ranked teams — No. 6 Georgia, No. 9 Nebraska, and No. 17 Illinois.

Given the youthfulness of the team and the discouraging number of injuries this season, the Hawks have a long way to go.

However, the women’s gymnastics team looks much better in person than they do on paper, and that 0-5 mark that misrepresents the gymnasts’ ability. That may seem cliché, but there is no doubt whether the talent exists, and frankly, it’s been a year of tough luck.

The dawn of “bad luck” appeared at the beginning of the season, when Iowa lost one of its top all-around performers in junior Emma Willis to a career-ending knee injury. That loss leaves four events that had to be filled by an extremely young team.

The lack of luck continued as Iowa faced a pair of hiccups in the season-opener matchup against Utah State on Jan. 11. The Hawkeyes suffered a setback when all-around freshman Lexi Mura suffered an injury warming up for vault. Junior Sydney Hoerr had to quickly step into her place. 

The Hawkeyes seemed to have come away the win over the Aggies, 191.950-191.750, after the final event. However, the Hawkeyes challenged for a rescore on one of the events, and the judges ruled against them, resulting in an automatic 0.30 deduction to Iowa’s team score. What could have been a win instead became a .025 loss to Utah State.

The Hawkeyes faced equally rotten luck a week later in the dual against Ball State, a team Iowa had defeated in their previous meeting. The Black and Gold adjusted their lineup to compensate for injuries. Ten Hawkeyes saw action on Jan. 17, including all six freshmen.

The GymHawks led Ball State going into the final rotation, but unfavorable luck struck again as sophomore Alie Glover, who appeared on the Big Ten Watch List, suffered from a sudden injury and could not finish the meet. The Hawkeyes ultimately fell to Ball State, 189.975-188.875.

The Hawkeyes have had two meets, three injuries, one failed tape review, and two losses to opponents that likely would have been wins.

Despite the tremendous adversity, the GymHawks have seen an exponential improvement in their overall team score for the season.

Iowa improved its team score by nearly 6 points from its previous outing against Ball State (188.875) to its matchup three days later against Georgia (194.675).

On Jan. 24, the Hawkeyes posted their second-highest team score in the Big Ten opener against the defending conference champion, No. 9 Nebraska, without their top all-around performer, freshman Angel Metcalf — yet another injury. Metcalf had claimed two all-around titles for the Hawkeyes in outings with Utah State and Ball State.

Freshman Mollie Drenth was the sole competitor in the all-around for the Hawkeyes in that meet.

In its past two duals, Iowa has only competed with one all-around competitor, which will most likely be the case in meets to come. Mura, Glover, and Metcalf are battling injuries, limiting them to two or three events per meet.

The Hawkeyes are slowly finding their balance and most recently posted a season-best team score against Illinois (195.050).

In the GymHawks’ most recent outing, Feb. 7, Iowa dropped its lead in the final rotation, resulting in a disappointing .400 loss to Michigan State (194.150-193.750). Glover was the only all-around competitor for Iowa.

The GymHawks will host No. 20 Ohio State on today in Carver-Hawkeye, beginning at 7 p.m. It’s safe to say the Hawks will compete with either Glover or Drenth in the all-around, and Metcalf and Hoerr will contribute in at least three events. 

The Hawkeyes are capable of turning this season around if they stay healthy and close every meet stronger than they started it. Consistency and health will be key factors for the team.

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