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Hawkeyes stick to routines

BY CHARLIE GREEN | MARCH 10, 2015 5:00 AM

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Junior Emmanuel Monroy walked up to the pommel horse in Minneapolis, poised to start the Hawkeyes out on the right foot.

That didn’t happen.

He missed the first skill of his routine, an omen for what was to become a long night for the Hawkeyes — Monroy’s routine earned the team just an 11.450.

Every routine counts, no mulligans or low-score drops. This is what five-up-five-count brings to the table, any and all mistakes will shine through in the final score.

Yet despite posting its lowest point total since its season-opener on Jan. 17, the Iowa men's gymnastics team is not about to change anything in its preparation for the remainder of the season.

“I think our training is still proving to really put us in the position that we want to be in for the meets,” assistant coach Ben Ketelsen said. “As far as our preparation for next weekend, we’re going to keep doing the same things.”

Because freshman Dylan Ellsworth missed the competition with an illness, sophomore Cory Paterson stepped into the parallel-bars lineup — leading to the Hawks' second sub-12 score of the night.

"He's a little stronger; he can handle it better," head coach JD Reive said about Ellsworth. “Dylan missed at Penn State and went 13.300, Cory missed and went 11.150.”

Paterson and Monroy were not the only gymnasts with mistakes for Iowa; as the rings lineup failed to stick a single landing — accounting for 2.5 points in deductions.

The prior weekend at Penn State, the lineup stuck four-of-five, each one adding 0.2 of a point to its routine.

“At Penn State we had four-out-of-five sticks on the rings, and that’s 0.8 right there,” junior Andrew Botto said. “And this meet, we had zero sticks, so if we really just focus on our routine and focus on the sticks, we usually do, it will help us a lot.”

Despite the dismount struggles, Botto tied for a team-high 14.900 on the rings and added a 14.250 on the vault.

They maintain that the preparation that put them on the cusp of the nation’s top five will see no changes; they will continue to put in their numbers in the gym.

The Hawkeyes devote extreme emphasis and time on dismounts in practice, and they will continue to simulate high-pressure situations for routines — especially on the pommel horse.

A team score of 421.700 in the meet dropped the Hawks two spots in the College Gymnastic Association’s rankings behind Minnesota and California.

To this point, the rankings were based on a three-score average, which consisted of each team’s last three meets. This week, the association moved to a four-score average, which drops a team’s highest score on the season and only counts two home scores. A more arbitrary coaches’ poll will come out later in the week.

The change in ranking method, combined with a low score at Minnesota over the weekend, caused the Hawks to drop about 0.1 of a point behind California, and a little more than 2 points behind the Gophers.

Because the Hawkeyes are a lock to make nationals, the drop in rankings is not disastrous. But the top six teams advance to the final day at nationals, and being in that group puts the Hawks among the nation’s best.

“We've never gone into that meet sitting in the top six,” Ketelsen said. “We've always kind of been that underdog team that's trying to push into it.”

He believes that having the mentality of being chased, rather than doing the chasing, would serve the Hawkeyes well in the postseason. After the Nebraska meet March 15, the Big Ten championships — which carry more weight for seeding at nationals — gives them the best opportunity to move back into the top six.

“It just gives them a little bit of that intangible, that confidence that we belong in that top six,” Reive said. “The way the brackets lay out, it makes it much easier — and I use that term loosely — to qualify for the next day, and politically, it shows that’s the team that we are.”

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


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