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Women’s gymnastics take the 24th ranking nationally

BY ALEXANDRIA GRIFFIN | FEBRUARY 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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So far this season, the Iowa women’s gymnastics team has faced the highs of visible improvement and the lows of injuries and illnesses. 

Yet through all the ups and downs, the GymHawks have earned a ranking among the top-25 teams nationally; they débuted this week at No. 24.

“Nobody expected us to get here this quickly, ranking-wise,” head coach Larissa Libby said. “The team should know how big of a deal this is for them and how utterly proud I am in their accomplishments.”

The Hawks gained the ranking after taking second in a tri-meet performance over this past weekend that included No. 18 Denver and BYU.

“We were able to finish with five girls who finished with individual bests, and they did a fantastic job in a strange environment with some of the highest scores our team has seen this season,” Libby said.
Coming into the season, one of the squad’s major goals was to place in the top 25 and improve their season-average team score to 196.

Currently, the Hawks have an average of 195.280, up from a week ago, when they were ranked No. 26 in the nation.

“This is such an exciting time, but as a team, we need to keep challenging ourselves to keep striving for better,” sophomore Angel Metcalf said.  “Our new vision is to be ranked in the top 20.”

Even with three gymnasts out for the season because of injuries, the Hawks are able to prevail and work even harder in order to reach for higher scores and better rankings.

“I don’t think anyone can understand the amount of effort and work they do and how they have paid off in the rankings,” said Libby. “I am blessed to have kids that will look you in the eye at any circumstance and say ‘I’m ready.’ ”

Despite the importance of getting into the top 25, Libby doesn’t want the rankings to influence the mentality or the focus of the team.

This week was a bit different because of how important the rankings were to the team, but normally it’s not their main focus.

“We all have our own job on the team and our own personal goals in order to keep the team going,” freshman Melissa Zurawski said. “As a freshman, I feel this team is so successful and was able to reach 24th rank through our strong team dynamic with the upper classmen keeping us in line and reminding us younger girls of our team goal.”

This season, Iowa broke the 196 barrier at home against Illinois on Feb. 14 (196.370). It was the first time the GymHawks had made the mark since March 8, 2013, against Iowa State, when they posted a score of 196.375.

“Being able to look back at my four-year career here so far, this year has really shown continual improvement in scores and as a team,” senior Johanny Sotillo said. 

“We are able to work together on bettering our routines, and bettering our relationships, which has set us apart from other teams and has shown a successful outcome so far.”


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