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Hawks to face uphill battle at NCAAs

BY CHARLIE GREEN | APRIL 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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Going into the Big Ten Championships on March 27, Iowa men’s gymnastics was in control of its own destiny — technically, it still is.

However, the squad could not hold its position as the No. 7 team in the country, and California (previously ranked No. 8) passed the Hawkeyes after a performance that has huge implications going into the NCAAs.

“Realistically, we just try to sell it to the kids that the battle is between us,” head coach JD Reive said. “Our job to win is to go out and hit 30 routines, and if it’s not 30, it’s to be as close to that as humanly possible, with minimizing all the errors we make.”

Iowa’s score of 427.600 was considerably lower than California’s 432.700 at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference Championship, more than enough to leapfrog the Bears over the Hawks in national qualifying average, a ranking that determines which of two groups teams will be placed in for nationals.

Previously, the rankings had been based on a four-score average, consisting of a team’s four highest scores, counting a maximum of two home meets.

The qualifying average replaces a team’s highest score with its score from their conference championship meet, which accounted for more than an 8-point drop-off from Iowa’s season high of 435.750 at Penn State on Feb. 27.

Each group advances its top-three teams to the second day of competition. Cal slipping into the seventh seed and Group 2 gives the Bears a better shot at advancing; it will likely come down to them and No. 6 Minnesota — a team Iowa beat twice this year.

For the Hawkeyes, being placed in Group 1 makes getting to the second day an uphill battle. At 430.213, its qualifying average is at least 6 points behind No. 5 Illinois and No. 4 Michigan.

Recent history provides solace to an Iowa team that ranked as high as No. 6 this season.

In 2013, the Hawks entered the NCAA Championships at No. 11 and advanced to the final day en route to a fifth-place finish.

So, there is hope. It’s likely going to take the team’s highest score of the season, as well as a few mistakes from Michigan and/or Illinois, to advance past the competition’s qualifying round.

The NCAA Championships will begin on April 9 in Norman, Oklahoma.

“If we go in, do our best, and walk away saying that we left everything on the floor, then we’ll be fine,” assistant coach Ben Ketelsen said. “If that means we move into the team final, that’s awesome, but if not, then we did everything we could do.”

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


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