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Men's and women's gymnastics to open seasons over break

BY CHARLIE GREEN | DECEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s gymnastics team will compete at LSU on Jan. 9, 2015. For head coach Larissa Libby and assistant Jennifer Green, the meet will mark a return to the school they competed for.

“It will be interesting for us because Jennifer and I both went to school and competed for LSU,” Libby said. “It’s the best in the country, and if you want to be the best, you have to compete against the best.”

Libby was a four-time captain before graduating from the school in 1996. She knows as well as anyone the powerhouse that the Tigers are in the sport — they enter season ranked No. 3 in the country.

The gymnasts know that to beat one of the NCAA’s top programs, it will take a complete team effort.

“We need to come together as a team and clean up our mistakes,” freshman and Florida native Nikki Youd said. “Our goal is to prove that we can compete with the best.”

The Hawkeyes will look for a boost from sophomore Angel Metcalf and senior Sydney Hoerr, who were recently named to the 2015 Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch List.

Libby stressed one goal she has for the team in their season-opener next month.

“I want consistency,” she said. “Mistakes are OK, but I don’t want to see falls.”

Men's gymnastics

Iowa men’s gymnastics is scheduled to travel to Chicago on Jan. 17, 2015, for the Windy City Invitational. Big Ten powers Michigan, Ohio State, and Illinois will also compete, as well as Illinois-Chicago.

After finishing ninth last year at nationals, the Hawkeyes come into this season ranked the same in the preseason coaches’ poll. That puts them behind five conference teams — including the three they will see in Chicago.

“We deserve a higher spot when we earn it,” head coach JD Reive said. “One of the things I did when I got here was change the strength of schedule, so we’re seeing the teams that are perpetually winning championships.”

Reive believes the opening meet is most important for building confidence. All-around performers such as Lance Alberhasky, Jack Boyle, Cory Paterson, Cyrus Dobre-Mofid, and Matt Loochtan should provide a promising level of versatility for the Hawkeyes.

Events such as the vault and pommel horse will be pivotal for the team this season, and the Hawks will rely on some younger gymnasts for points.

“I feel like I had a good vault coming in and the coaches have helped me improve,” freshman Dylan Ellsworth said. “If I just land on my feet and do what the coaches say, I’ll be able to help the team.”

With three of the top five teams in the country at the meet, the Hawkeyes are emphasizing the importance of a good start.

“Windy City is always a huge meet for us,” assistant coach Ben Ketelsen said. “We see a lot of really good teams there, and it sets a precedent for the rest of the season.”


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