Women’s gymnastics takes on Michigan State on Alumni Night

The Hawkeye women’s gymnastics team prepares for a battle against the Spartans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Grace Colton

Iowa gymnast Bridget Killian sticks her landing in 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 Iowa women’s gymnastics team is back home in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to take on Big Ten rival Michigan State this weekend. The Spartans are coming to Iowa City after a tight loss to No. 16 Nebraska at home.

Even with a loss in the Big Ten, Michigan State still performs strongest individually, completing many 9.8’s and 9.9’s last weekend. Iowa head coach Larissa Libby sees this but notes the strength of Big Ten gymnastics.

“It’s funny, we are really good friends with the Michigan State coaching staff. I was just on the phone with their associate head coach this morning,” Libby said. “I watched their competition [against Nebraska]; they are killer. With everything that the program has gone through, I am so happy for her and the staff.”

It’s a challenge competing in the Big Ten in any sport, and gymnastics is no exception to that. Facing off against a conference foe is always a battle, but other teams in the Big Ten having success elevates the league as a whole.

RELATED: GymHawks fall to Penn State in close dual meet

“There is nothing better than promoting another team to get up there in the Big Ten,” Libby said. “We want as many teams in the conference to be going to the national championship or at least vying for the Big Ten title.”

The GymHawks have shown impressive performances both as a team and individually this season, particularly sophomore Lauren Guerin.

Guerin performed the third-best floor routine in Iowa history against Penn State last weekend. That doesn’t mean there aren’t areas to improve.

“We all need to work on our consistency, resilience, and confidence,” Guerin said. “Our gymnastics is there. We just need to put it all together and hit when we need to.”

Sophomore Bridget Killian — who was a near-miss on all-around, performing 9.8 routines on floor, vault, and beam — said her floor is her strongest routine. Now, it’s just about focusing on the little things.

“We have to focus in on the details: landings and sticking landings on ball,” Killian said. “[Michigan State] is a really good team, paying attention to detail with leaps and form. That will make sure we are getting the 9.8s and 9.9s.”

Ultimately, coach Libby says success starts within, worrying about how the Hawkeyes will perform on Saturday versus how the Spartans will perform.

“It’s our home. We intend to defend that by not focusing on them,” Libby said. “I think our biggest problem is we’ve beaten ourselves twice. We just need to focus on the things we need to clean up. We’ve been brutal with landings lately, that’s an easy place for us to pick up and start again.”

The last matchup between the two was in 2018 and resulted in a close, 193.375-192.900, win for the Hawkeyes in East Lancing. With Alumni Night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, competition begins at 7 p.m. Saturday.

After competing against the Spartans, the GymHawks face off against Minnesota in Minneapolis Feb. 8 and Michigan at home on Feb 14.