Men head for Big Tens

BY JACK ROSSI | MARCH 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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The men’s gymnastics regular season is over, and Big Ten Championships are set to begin today in Lincoln, Neb.

Competition at the Big Ten tournament will be fierce. The Big Ten has continued to be the best of NCAA gymnastics and the Hawkeyes will need to be just about perfect if they hope to threaten such schools as Michigan and Ohio State for the top spot in the conference. The result is a good indication of how the team will perform in a few weeks at the NCAA championships.

“We are the powerhouse of men’s gymnastics,” head coach JD Reive said. “There are some of the best gymnasts in the world. There are ,Olympians and there are U.S. senior national team members. When you watch a Big Ten meet, it’s as exciting as NCAA championships. It’s great gymnastics.”

Reive and his squad are more prepared than ever to take on some of the country’s best this weekend.

“This is probably the best I’ve felt going into a meet personally and as far as the team goes, we’re 100 percent ready for this meet,” redshirt senior Matt McGrath said. “We’ve just done a ton of sets. We could do these things in our sleep at this point.”

Comfort is key for a successful gymnastics program. While many teams are capable of being successful, the hard part of it is putting it all together in front of the judges.

“For the first time since I’ve been at Iowa, I am actually really comfortable with what we’ve done,” Reive said. “Our work is done in the fall and leading up to the season. If we don’t put the work in then, we are hoping that we are ready to go, but we’ve done the work, and we have to go earn it, but we are actually physically and mentally capable of doing it.”

The Hawkeyes worked through spring break, focusing on some of the finer details of their routines.
The week included two a days in the gym and a couple of intrasquad meets to gauge where they are going into this weekend.

“We did a little more intensity in terms of routine numbers but just more focus on individual detail,” Reive said. “We’re really looking at some miniscule amounts of deductions that we can add to our team score this weekend.”

After posting a season high of 437.350 in Nebraska two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes want to continue to have their scores rise. They believe that they still have room to grow and they are capable of putting up a 440.000 this weekend.

“I know we can hit 440.000 but, we still haven’t done it,” Reive said. “We did two intrasquad meets, and they were 438.000 still counting misses. We have the capability to hit 440.000, but we cannot count any falls or major deductions anywhere.”

For assistant coach Ben Ketelsen, this should be one of the more exciting championships seasons he has been a part of. Iowa did not have much success when he was a Hawkeye gymnast, but now he is experiencing it as a coach.

“The guys are more prepared than they have ever been going into championship season,” Ketelsen said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

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