Alternating Hawkeyes on the floor

With a big recent injury plaguing the Hawkeyes, the team is still finding its rotational rhythm.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lily

Iowa’s Clair Kaji performs on the beam during the Iowa/Ohio State gymnastics meet in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The GymHawks defeated the Buckeyes, 195.725 to 195.300, to win their home opener. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Anna Kayser, [email protected]

The Iowa women’s gymnastics team has been bouncing different athletes in and out of the rotation to fill gaps left by injury.

On Jan. 19 against Big Ten rival Ohio State, sophomore Clair Kaji sustained a foot/ankle injury that has left an open spot in at least three events for the Hawkeyes.

Since mourning the loss of a major piece of the rotation, head coach Larissa Libby has been moving girls in and out of lineups in an attempt to find what clicks.

“We’ve all had a role in kind of taking over where Clair was in the lineups and such,” sophomore Bre Fitzke said. “I think we do a good job, not only making ourselves better, [but] making each other better. It was really easy to just step into her role just because that’s how we’ve practiced the whole time.”

Kaji’s physical ability is not what the Hawkeyes miss most. She holds a large supportive role in the gym in terms of character as well.

RELATED: The Fighting Illini take both Iowa gymnastics teams

However, the physical side is key in having the roster be consistent in performances week-to-week.

“We’ve been bouncing in and out just because we weren’t sure who’s ready,” Libby said. “We’ve got the people, it’s just a matter of getting the right people together.”

Junior Nicole Chow is one of the athletes being worked into the rotation on the uneven bars with Kaji’s absence.

“I feel good; obviously we miss Clair in the lineup, obviously she played a big role on the team,” Chow said. “I think our team has done a really good job of stepping up and trying to keep the level of gymnastics that she had, and honestly working to even be better than that.”

Freshman Madison Kampschroeder, sophomore Annie Kustoff, and two alternates are also options for the Hawkeyes if other injuries occur.

On the floor, Fitzke and sophomore Gina Leal have going back and forth for that open spot. Who competes all depends on the way both athletes are performing in practice in the week leading up to the meet. Freshman Erin Castle is also getting ready for a possible performance.

With Kaji being a high scorer on the beam, that has been one of the tougher events to put together. Chow and junior Sydney Hogan have both been used in the event.

After training hard at the beginning of the week, the coaching staff and athletes like to have a something of a set lineup of who will be competing in the meet, but doesn’t always happen that way.

“The unfortunate thing for us is we’re warming up all of those kids in the meet, and then whoever’s the most consistent in the warm-up is who goes,” Libby said. “That’s tough, you don’t want that.”

Right now, rotations lack consistency, which is the hardest part of losing athletes to injury.

Another problem battling the Hawkeye’s lineup is sickness. Last week, sophomore Charlotte Sullivan didn’t train, and then felt better enough to compete in the meet.

Facebook Comments