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Dylan Ellsworth: The up-and-comer

BY CHARLIE GREEN | FEBRUARY 13, 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 on the Iowa men’s gymnastics team who typically combine for more than 50 percent of the team’s points. Each athlete holds a defining characteristic that contributes to the team’s successes in addition to his quantitative contributions in competition.

While seniors Lance Alberhasky, William Albert, and Brandon Field will say goodbye to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, freshman Dylan Ellsworth is just getting started.

Although he’s young — just 19 — the Utah native is a constant in several events.

“I said it right when we got him,” head coach JD Reive said. “If he’s healthy on every event, he’s [going to] add a lot of depth to this team. And he’s just now starting to get there from the ankle surgery he had back in the fall.”

He may be new to the team, but he is fifth in points on the season, accounting for 8.28 percent of the team’s total.

He started his first season as a Hawk fresh off surgery for a fracture in his foot, a cyst on his heel, and bone spurs.

It held him out for over a month at the start of the fall semester, and when he came back, the real struggle began.

“I felt good after six weeks,” Ellsworth said. “But gymnastics beats you up a little more, so it took me more like eight or nine weeks to feel like myself.”

It’s a physically taxing sport as it is, let alone when you’re still recovering from an injury. On top of that, he faced the challenge of transitioning to college gymnastics.

“I remember when I was a freshman just having such a hard time adapting to such a rigorous program,” junior Del Vecchio Orozco. “Especially with all the numbers and the strength, I’m really surprised at how well he’s accepted the overall change.”

But he’s handled it thus far, establishing himself as a cornerstone for the future of the program.

“With the surgery setting me back, and even coming back from it and excelling as much as I have, I feel like this summer I’m going to excel so much more,” Ellsworth said.

In all four meets this season, the freshman has cracked the lineup on the parallel bars, still rings, and vault.

He has improved every meet on the parallel bars, going from 13.400 in the opening meet Jan. 17 to 14.450 last weekend at Illinois.

The Hawks have benefited from his consistently improving ring scores.  After posting 11.200 in the opener, he added a personal-best 14.250 last weekend.

And he’s been even more valuable on the vault, an event he’s helped turn around this year for the Hawks.

“We lost Matt McGrath from last year,” senior Lance Alberhasky said. “He’s come in and done a great job of landing his vault in meets, and we needed that this year.”

Reive called Ellsworth an immense addition to the team — one of the best recruits he’s had as a head coach. The numbers recently back that up. The team will need the youngster to stay the course in Saturday’s Big Ten bout — the first televised event for the Hawkeyes this season — when they host Minnesota and Nebraska for Senior Day.

It is about as evenly matched as a meet can get. According to points per meet, Iowa comes in ranked eighth, Minnesota 10th, and Nebraska 11th.

Ellsworth may crash the seniors’ party, and his time with the program is just getting started.


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