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Lance Alberhasky: The Experienced Field General

BY CHARLIE GREEN | FEBRUARY 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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Over the course of the week, DI staffer Charlie Green will provide an in-depth look at five core individuals who, together, typically combine for more than 50 percent of the Iowa men’s gymnastics’ points. Each athlete holds a defining characteristic that contributes to the team’s successes in addition to his quantitative contributions in competition.

It was time for the sixth rotation, and the Iowa men’s gymnastics team was one event away from defeating traditional powerhouse Ohio State. The athletes gathered around redshirt senior Lance Alberhasky — a guy who they knew could summon the energy and focus they needed. They eventually defeated the Big Ten foe.

If head coach JD Reive is commander-in-chief of Iowa men’s gymnastics, Alberhasky is his top field general.

He accounts for more than one-tenth of the team’s points, but the captain’s value extends far beyond the scorecard.

The Iowa City native is the most experienced gymnast on the team. This is his fifth year in the program, and he has consistently competed in numerous events.

“He’s been here a long time and knows his way around,” sophomore Cory Paterson said. “He can give us insights from his experience, and it helps us get through those tough times.”

Reive is quick to point to Alberhasky as his team’s unquestioned leader. He balances the responsibility of generating energy and maintaining focus.

Reive and Alberhasky have the type of player-coach relationship needed to make a promising team into a contender for Big Ten success.

“He’s definitely a translator,” junior Matt Loochtan said. “The coaches say something in a mean way, and get you angry and wanting to do it, and Lance reassures you that you can do it, in more of a nice way.”

Reive’s coaching style is nothing short of rigorous.

He builds his team on a foundation of the repetition of skills, routines, and workouts hundreds upon hundreds of times.  But Alberhasky has been through it all — the soreness, the long hours in the gym, and the nonstop training for only a few months of competition.

He grew up in Iowa City, where he also developed his prowess. He encompasses everything Reive brings to the program — that hard work and repetitive training transform athletes into champions.

Spending hours in the gym daily has paid dividends for the senior, who estimates he has gained 15 pounds of muscle since he started at Iowa. Alberhaksy has morphed into an all-around workhouse from someone who was recruited as a vault and floor specialist.

“In a sense, it’s good that I could prove people wrong,” he said. “JD knew I could be an all-around guy, and it worked out for me.”

But it hasn’t been without its struggles. Before his sophomore season, Alberhasky tore the Achilles tendon in his heel while working on a floor routine in practice.

An Achilles tear is one of the most frustrating injuries an athlete can experience, because of the lengthy recovery process. Alberhasky couldn’t walk for three months — resting, stretching, and waiting in order to avoid reinjuring himself. The injury took him out for the whole season.

But he built up the strength in his ankle and calf muscle, all while watching from the sideline as his team struggled.

Despite the frustration of injury, Alberhasky once again bought into his head coach’s mentality.

“I knew with JD’s program I could bounce back,” Alberhasky said.

Now, he is a staple for the Hawkeyes on the rings, floor exercise, and parallel bars, and he accounts for 11.18 percent of his team’s total points. With an average score of 14.375, he also leads his team on the high bar.

Patience makes him the gymnast he is. He knows the frustration of injuries. He knows the painstaking path to perfecting skills. He is the front man of a team with big aspirations, standing only behind his head coach.

He’s been through storybook ups and downs the sport has to offer. He contributed to a fifth-place team finish two seasons ago at nationals, followed by an eight-place finish last year.

The Hawkeyes are ranked seventh in the nation in points per meet at 423.683. Though a national title is unlikely, they look like they are capable of a top-three finish in the conference.

And the field general is leading the way.

“I know what I need to do to be consistent and do my job,” he said. “Just really manage my nerves, and let the younger guys follow me and see an example of what to do.”


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