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The level is in the details

BY CHARLIE GREEN | FEBRUARY 10, 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 account for only five of the 19 athletes on the Iowa men’s gymnastics team roster but typically combine for more than 50 percent of the team’s scored points. Each athlete holds a defining characteristic that contributes to the team’s successes in addition to their quantitative contributions in competition.

Cyrus Dobre-Mofid is picky, at least when it comes to gymnastics.

As a leader, he extends his approach to teammates, reminding them of the bad habits that irk him the most.

The redshirt junior can’t stand to see gymnasts look past the details. It bothers him when they take an extra hop on a landing they could have stuck; it perturbs him when a teammate loses grip on the equipment, and they fall without much resistance. He wants to see their tenacity.

“That’s what I like to see — the fight,” Dobre-Mofid said.

There’s a certain grace in his routines that seems to defy what a body should be capable of doing. It’s something that visually pleases the judges who evaluate him meet after meet.

But for Dobre-Mofid, it’s almost natural.

“Gymnastics literally runs through my blood,” he said. “It is something I’ve grown up with and grown into.”

That’s not to say that it hasn’t come with an immense amount of training. “Perfect practice makes perfect” is his motto. He knows that when it comes down to scoring a routine, the small details will keep him on top of his game.

“It’s presentation,” head coach JD Reive said. “Posture and where the head goes, how his arms are when he’s standing, how he salutes the judges. Those type of things command a certain level of attention.”

It encompasses everything from pointing toes to twisting in the air and making sure every inch of his body is in the right place.

“He’s very clean,” junior Matt Loochtan said. “He’s got high start values and is pretty consistent across the board.”

The Maryland native has performed 16 routines in four different events to date this season. Only twice, once on the high bar and once on the parallel bars, has he scored under 14.000. That type of consistency stems from an emphasis on the importance of meticulous training.

In a tri-meet with Oklahoma and Ohio State on Feb. 1, the co-captain recorded season highs on the parallel bars, high bar, and vault en route to Iowa’s victory over Ohio State. On Feb. 7, he added a season-high score on the floor exercise.

His value to the team cannot be understated. He holds the team’s top average score on the parallel bars and floor exercise. In all four of his events, he averages above 14.000. Accounting for 11.39 percent of the team’s total points, Dobre-Mofid has made the most of his devotion to the small but important details.

But as meticulous as Dobre-Mofid is, he provides a special kind of leadership that’s hard to replicate — his teammates say he’s funny.

“Having a sense of humor, about leading in practice or how difficult things are is part of keeping things sane and adding a little balance to what we do,” Reive said.

The mix of focus and lighthearted behavior rubs off on teammates, who do what they can to push through the aches and pains of the sport.

“He’s one of those upbeat, funny guys,” sophomore Cory Paterson said. “He keeps our moods up and nerves down before routines.”

But all he’s done is master simplistic perfection. He keeps start values up for his routines and makes them look as effortless as possible.

“The ideal routine is to make it look easy, and I think Cyrus has been able to do that,” assistant coach Ben Ketelsen said. “He maintains a certain intensity, but at the same time, everything flows.”

For the coaching staff, it has been a long journey of growth for Dobre-Mofid, who has the second-most points behind junior Jack Boyle.

“It’s been a long road for him trying to simplify but keep the start value up,” Ketelsen said. “And I think we found the right balance.”


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