Women's gymnastics selected for Auburn regional


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The Iowa women’s gymnastics team has been selected to compete at the Auburn, Alabama, NCAA Regional on April 4, one of six regional sites hosting the country’s top 36 teams.

The two top teams from each regional will qualify for the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 17-19.

“It’s just an honor; only 36 teams go,” head coach Larissa Libby said. “It sure is better than staying home — unless you’re hosting, of course.”

No. 5 Alabama, No. 8 Auburn, No. 17 Minnesota, Maryland, and George Washington will join the 24th-ranked Hawks at the regional competition.

Iowa is not only familiar with Maryland and Minnesota, but it has beaten both this season. The trip to Auburn will mark the squad’s second trip into SEC territory — the first coming in a loss at No. 4 LSU in the season-opener on Jan. 9.

Because one of the regional sites is in Ames, many GymHawks assumed that’s where they would be sent. Although a larger contingent of Hawkeye followers might have made the journey to Iowa State, they will get to travel to warmer weather once again.

“We’re excited to be heading to the sunny South, and the girls know it’s a hotbed for gymnastics,” Libby said.

That’s not so say the Hawks won’t be well-represented. Freshman Nikki Youd, sophomore Mollie Drenth, and junior Alie Glover are from Florida, sophomore Angel Metcalf is from North Carolina, and sophomore Ashleigh Edlin is from Tennessee.

While the program has been represented at regionals every year since 2005, three of those times only certain individuals were invited, rather than the team as a whole. But this time the whole squad will compete and has steadily climbed throughout the season to its first top-25 ranking since 2011.

Last season, only six current Hawkeyes were selected to compete at regionals.

“It’s lonely not having the whole team,” Drenth said in a release. “…Having all the girls just gives you that extra confidence, and when they are not there with you everything seems a lot harder.”

With fewer than two weeks until competition, the team is focusing on eliminating the nagging injuries they’ve suffered during the season and focusing on the details that will be vital as the meet’s fourth-seeded squad.

With much to think about, spirits are high heading into the home stretch of the 2015 season.

“It’s a really great feeling,” sophomore Angel Metcalf said in a release. “We have just come so far since last year, and we are so proud of ourselves, but we still have work to do and things to work on, so I think it’s a great experience.”

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