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Iowa finishes fourth at Windy City Invitational

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JANUARY 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa men’s gymnastics opened its season Jan. 17 with a fourth-place finish at the Windy City Invitational in Chicago. Illinois won the meet, while Big Ten powers Ohio State and Michigan rounded out the top three.

Going into its final event on the still rings, the team was in prime position to finish the night strong. But in the Hawkeyes’ strongest event, they turned in a subpar performance.

“We kind of let our nerves get to us in the competition; we have the difficulty and ability to perform much better,” sophomore Cory Paterson said.

The Hawkeyes got off to a blazing start on the vault, an event that has been a weak spot in recent years. All five gymnasts — Will Albert, Andrew Botto, Matt Loochtan, Dylan Ellsworth, and Brandon Field — in the event scored above 14.000, making it their strongest event of the evening.

The promising start preceded struggles in traditionally strong areas. Falls in the floor exercise proved fatal for the team when the final score was tallied, as did unusual mishaps on the high bar and rings.

“We had some uncharacteristic falls, but did a good job of picking it back up and getting back on the right track,” redshirt senior Lance Alberhasky said. “We got a little fired up and made some stupid mistakes.”

Aside from the mistakes, several gymnasts put in promising performances for the Hawkeyes. Albert scored 15.000 on the rings, and Paterson scored a team-high 15.100 on the high bar.

On the pommel horse, junior Doug Sullivan led all contestants with a 14.900. Freshman Austin Hodges scored a 13.800 on the event in his first college action. However, three Hawkeyes — Elijah Parsells, David Spanier, and Emmanuel Monroy —failed to reach the 13-point mark in the event.

“Emotionally, we handled ourselves well,” head coach JD Reive said. “But our focus and the way we handled competition is something we need to work on.”

It was an up-and-down night for the team’s veterans. Redshirt junior Cyrus Dobre-Mofid scored a 14.350 on the parallel bars but struggled on the high bar with a 13.100. Junior Jack Boyle posted a 14.600 on the rings but just a 11.600 on the parallel bars. Loochtan also struggled on the floor, rings, and parallel bars.

“They’re seasoned veterans at this point,” Reive said. “I think in all the excitement, things just got away from them.”

The team finished just 0.8 of a point behind Ohio State, posting a final score of 414.000. According to roadtonationals.com, Iowa is ranked 10th in the country, one spot behind the Buckeyes.

Currently, Illinois sits at No. 4, and Michigan is No. 7. Minnesota, which finished fifth of the six teams at the invitational, is ranked 11th.

Illinois-Chicago, which finished last in the competition, will travel to Iowa City for the Hawkeyes’ home-opener on Saturday.

“We scored 414 as a team, and that’s not anything we want to stick around at,” Alberhasky said. “It’s just a matter of cleaning up the silly mistakes we made.”

Follow @CharlsGreen on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’ gymnastics team.


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