Freshman sparks team competition


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa sophomore Brandon Wong performs on the pummel horse during the Black and Gold intrasquad in the Field House on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. The Hawkeyes men’s gymnastics team debuted their 2018 roster during the event. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Anna Kayser, [email protected]

Freshman Bennet Huang was named to the Big Ten watch list at the beginning of the season, and he’s already proving that he deserves the honor in the gym.

As one of the younger members of the team, Huang brings a lot of work ethic and strength to the Iowa team.

“He’s a solid all-arounder; you’re going to hear that over and over again, but at the same time, his strengths are very, very strong,” head coach JD Reive said. “Floor and pommel horse are very good events for him — he should be in contention to be a finalist at the end of the season.”

Being named to the Big Ten watch list is not only good for him individually, but the entire team.

“It’s super important for us as a team; politically, we’re trying to be better with all of the judging and all of the things that go into our sport,” Reive said. “It also shows the trajectory of that we’re on and what we’re trying to produce here in terms of quality of student-athletes.”

In the rest of the season, Reive said, he expects Huang to continue to grow into his skills as well as to grow into a leader on the team.

Huang is already doing the growing. Being a top performer as a freshman, he pushes the older members of the team to step up their performance.

“He pushes everyone in lineup because no one really wants to lose to a freshman,” senior Austin Hodges said. “He brings a lot of competition between us, which is what makes us even better.”

Huang is halfway across the country from his family, but the tightly knit dynamic of the Iowa men’s gymnastics squad makes his transition much easier.

That dynamic was a huge factor into deciding which team Huang would choose for his college career, among Iowa, Minnesota, and California.

“Coming here, I just really liked how the entire team was like a family to me and the entire staff around here in all aspects were just really friendly,” Huang said. “The atmosphere really got to me, and I thought that this was the right spot for me.”

Adjusting from California to Iowa hasn’t been as difficult as one would think for a freshman, but there are things that take some getting used to.

“Definitely the weather is a lot colder, but other than that, it’s going pretty well,” Huang said. “I have a lot of teammates to help me out. That’s really nice.”

In high school, Huang was a five-time Junior National Team member. At the 2017 Junior Nationals, he was the all-around, floor, and pommel horse champion.

That success in his high-school career has helped him transition into college competition.

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