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Iowa gymnasts happy despite the loss

BY JACK ROSSI | FEBRUARY 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s gymnastics team may have gotten the spark the gymnasts were searching for.

The Hawkeyes hosted their last home meet of the year on Feb. 15, when Nebraska and Minnesota came to Iowa City.

Minnesota defeated Iowa and Nebraska with a score of 437.400. The Hawkeyes finished with a season high 433.050, and Nebraska came in third at 418.150.

Despite the finish, JD Reive’s Hawkeyes did not hang their heads after putting up one of their best performances of the year.

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“We did well. I was very happy with what we did today,” senior Matt McGrath said. “We stayed in as a team the whole meet. We started on floor, finished on high bar, and through that whole process, we did a great job of staying together and hitting our sets. Now, we just need to be a little sharper.”

The Hawkeyes will stay busy until they travel to the Big Ten championships at the end of March. Team members hope that the consecutive meets will get them in a groove as they hit the home stretch of the regular season.

“Basically, we’ve got no weekend off until Big Ten championships, and this is all about learning to compete, perform, and get comfortable out there and do the detail work we need to do,” Reive said.

While the metal work is coming along, he still sees room for improvement — rings were one of the weakest events of the meet for Iowa. McGrath led the team by taking fifth, and sophomores Matt Loochtan and Jack Boyle finished seventh and eighth.

“They did what we needed to do,” Reive said. “We still have room for improvement on things, we still counted misses on things, unfortunately, but great energy and great rhythm to the competition and a lot of good performances from the guys. Much improved in a week.”

Assistant coach Ben Ketelsen believes that Iowa will be able to maintain the energy from this meet and carry it into next week, when the team will travel to Las VegasFor the Winter Cup, then quickly turn around to Chicago for a meeting with Illinois-Chicago.

“We do much better when it’s just meet after meet once the season starts to roll along,” Ketelsen said. “So hopefully, this created some momentum so that we can carry it on through the next couple of meets. We will see Minnesota and Nebraska again.”

The Feb. 15 meet was also important to see how the gymnasts improved on pommel horse after last weekend’s subpar performance in which they scored a 61.050. They bounced back in a big way, scoring a 71.700.

“Pommel horse is normally a struggle for every team,” Ketelsen said. It’s hard to put up a strong and mentally tough pommel squad. It was good for us to go out and get a solid hit especially after last weekend.”

To top off a great performance, sophomore Doug Sullivan took down Ketelsen’s pommel-horse school record with a 15.250.

“He beat me,” Ketelsen said. “Which I am OK with because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to push them to break records.”


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