Women’s gymnastics open season with Black and Gold Intrasquad

The Gold Team was victorious in the first look at the GymHawks this season.

Iowa+gymnast+Erin+Castle+performs+on+the+floor+at+a+meet+against+Rutgers+on+Saturday%2C+January+26%2C+2019.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Scarlet+Knights+194.575+to+191.675.

Grace Colton

Iowa gymnast Erin Castle performs on the floor at a meet against Rutgers on Saturday, January 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights 194.575 to 191.675.

Cassandra Buchholz, Sports Reporter

The women’s gymnastics team opened its 2019-20 campaign with a Black and Gold intrasquad scrimmage held in the UI Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.

The teams — divided up between all four classes — were called the “Black Team,” coached by assistant Vince Smurro, and the “Gold Team,” coached by Jennifer Green. The Gold Team won by audience vote, seven events to six.

“The crowd is the most important detail of these types of intrasquads,” head coach Larissa Libby said. “We need to do a better job of the timing of the event. We took four kids out today just to make sure, but we wanted to get them in front of a crowd. The crowd can make you or break you based off of how you feed off of the environment.”

The Fieldhouse hosted a crowd of roughly 200 people for the event. Senior Clair Kaji sat out of Saturday’s meet and was interacting with the crowd and pulling young girls out for summersaults and handstands.

“[The kids] are just coming out of the club system, where it’s a very individual environment,” Libby said. “We’re here to show that it’s ok to make mistakes and ultimately most important to have fun.”

Junior all-around Erin Castle opened the meet on vault for the Gold Team, winning the crowd’s reaction for the point against the Black Team’s Carina Tolan. Castle noted the importance of competition between teammates and how crucial preseason is for the GymHawks.

“This was really big for our confidence,” Castle said. “We do intrasquads just about every week during practice, but to bring out the equipment and boost up each other in front of a crowd is really fun.”

Taking points in vault and her floor routine, freshman Madeline Solomon won the United States Marines Distinguished Female Athletic Excellence Award from Waterloo West High School and showed a respective dominance at the Intrasquad, showcasing the GymHawks’ young talent.

“We had to get into the mindset of being in a real meet with competition” said Solomon. “It was really rewarding to see the little girls sitting around the mat cheering me on. When I was a younger gymnast, I used to look up to them [Iowa team], and it’s so cool to now be the role model.”

The Hawkeyes kickoff their competition schedule in Orlando, Florida, on Jan. 3, where they will face Georgia, Oregon State, and Division II University of Bridgeport.

Iowa opens at home at 4 p.m. Jan. 11 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to compete in a three-team meet against Ball State and Air Force.

The women will start Big Ten competition the following week where they will travel to College Park, Maryland to take on Maryland in the first dual meet of the season. The rest of the 13-meet schedule consists of opponents of Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa State, West Virginia, Western Michigan, and Cal.

The Hawkeyes contend in the Big Ten’s annual Big 5 meet on Feb. 21 in Toledo, Ohio, with the Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Championships taking place on March 21, hosted by Ohio State.

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