Hawks finish sixth at NCAA Championships


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Through two rotations, Iowa stood in fourth-place ahead of Michigan and California at the NCAA team finals. The pommel horse loomed large in the next rotation, an event that had plagued them all season long.

In the third rotation of that final meet on April 10, the horse hurt the Iowa men’s gymnastics in one last time in 2015 — the Hawks went on to finish with 427.450 points to finish sixth out of six teams.

“I am proud of the team,” junior Cyrus Dobre-Mofid said. “We came into the competition with fire in our eyes and with the mission to make team finals. We accomplished that mission and were warriors in doing so.”

Solid scores on the floor exercise and high bar put the Hawks in a good spot through the first two rotations. But the pommel horse lineup simply could not pull through.

First, junior Emmanuel Monroy posted a 13.500 routine, followed by a 12.500 from junior Del Vecchio Orazco, which in itself might have doomed the team’s chances.

Even junior Doug Sullivan, one of the nation’s best on the event, scored just a 13.650.

The lineup finished with 68.500, second lowest of the six teams in the finals. Last-place team scores on the vault (70.600) and parallel bars (68.750) in later rotations cemented the team’s fate.

But while the Hawks may have lost steam in the team finals, getting there took its best performance of the season the night before in the qualifying round. That alone is a major accomplishment in the eyes of head coach JD Reive.

“I am super proud of the kids,” he said in a release. “They made it to team finals and that was the goal. It was tougher because of some injuries, but the guys performed very well.”

In an all-around stellar effort, the team put up 435.050 points to finish third in their group behind only No. 4 Michigan (437.000) and No. 1 Oklahoma (450.750). Iowa’s score in that meet was the fourth highest in qualifying action, even edging out eventual third-place finisher Penn State (432.900).

“It was a great team performance,” senior Lance Alberhasky said. “Even when things got hard, we worked through the challenges and made team finals.”

Alberhasky closed out his Iowa career by helping his team through a deadly qualifying group. In upsetting No. 5 Illinois to advance to team finals, the senior captain finished second on the team on the parallel bars with a score of 14.550.

Finishing in sixth left the Hawkeyes as the third-best finisher in the Big Ten. Oklahoma took first at finals with a team score of 447.050, followed by Stanford with 440.450.

For Reive, it marked the second time in three years he has led the Hawkeyes into the NCAA team finals for a top-six finish.

In event finals on April 11, junior Jack Boyle earned All-America honors by finishing sixth on the still rings, a fitting end to his strong 2015 campaign.

The Hawks entered the weekend on the outside looking in but finished with a performance worthy of discussing them as one of the nation’s elite programs.

“It is a privilege to be a part of this team,” Dobre-Mofid said. “We have the hearts of champions, and we proved that other teams cannot afford to sleep on us.”

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

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