GymHawks look at the past as they prepare for the future

The Iowa women’s gymnastics team prepares for its 2019 season with the Black and Gold Intrasquad meet on Dec. 2. 


Joseph Cress

Iowa head coach Larissa Libby huddles with her athletes during a women’s gymnastics meet in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.

Jess Westendorf, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s gymnastics team on Saturday will give fans a preview of what the squad has in store for the 2019 season in the Black and Gold Intrasquad meet.

The GymHawks will split into two teams to compete in the four events that make up a gymnastics meet: vault, bars, beam, and floor.

The team will also have celebrity judges (who have not been named yet).

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But before sights are set on this season and this meet, it’s important to look at what has led to Iowa’s success in the past few seasons.

Larissa Libby is entering her 15th season as the head coach of the GymHawks, and each year the program has become stronger.

In 2016, Libby and the squad earned their first national ranking since 2011, at No. 19. It has maintained a ranking in the top-50 for three-consecutive years: No. 19 in 2016, No. 18 in 2017, and No. 33 last season.

If the 2019 season is anything like the past three seasons, then the program can hope to see the GymHawks back in the national top-50 rankings.

Over the past three seasons, Iowa has recorded 19 first-place finishes. Ten of those 19 wins have come when the GymHawks compete in Carver-Hawkeye.

Iowa has made 18 appearances in a NCAA regional while making an appearance during each of the 15 seasons that Libby has been at the helm.

The 2019 season will have the same expectation — continuing to make the tournament.

Breaking school records also seems to be a priority for the squad, and each season the team builds on previous success.

In 2018, Iowa recorded a season-high 196.400 at the Big Ten Championships, good for fourth place.

In 2017, the GymHawks placed third at the Big Ten Championships. Not only did it show that Iowa can compete in the conference, it was also the best championship score in the program’s history, 196.725.

This successful 2017 Big Ten Championships then led the team to its 17th NCAA regional appearance in Champaign, Illinois. Iowa shattered the record books once again.

On beam, the GymHawks crushed the previous rotation record of 49.425 with a 49.600.

At the end of the 2017 regional, Iowa took third with two individual gymnasts standing on the podium and advancing to the NCAA Championships.

At the time, freshman Clair Kaji and senior Angel Metcalf finished the event with season-bests of 9.950, giving them an automatic invitations to the NCAAs.

The 2017 season was definitely one to remember and one the GymHawks will strive to emulate.

As it gets closer to the Black and Gold Intrasquad, the program and the fans can relish in the success and look forward to the 2019 season.