Women’s gymnastics looking for complete performance at Big Five meet

The Hawkeyes head to the Big Ten’s annual Big Five competition that determines the seeding placement for the Big Ten Championships.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s all-around Erin Castle performs on the beam during a gymnastics meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Michigan State on Feb. 1.

Cassandra Buchholz, Sports Reporter

After taking first place last year with a team total of 196.450, the Iowa women’s gymnastics team is looking for a repeat in the Big Ten’s annual Big Five Meet in Toledo, Ohio, this weekend.

The Big Five meet is the final regular-season conference meet — designed for seeding placement heading into the Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Championship — held March 21 in Columbus, Ohio.

The Hawkeyes will compete against the four other Big Ten teams they have not seen in dual meet action yet. Iowa will compete against Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Rutgers tonight, while Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Penn State compete Saturday.

After a disappointing fall to Michigan last week, Iowa head coach Larissa Libby notes that her team understands where they are and where they can go.

“The whole event last week was so fun,” Libby said. “We had so many fans write to us about how that was their first gymnastics meet, and it was entertaining. We knew we weren’t perfect, and we knew it would take perfection to hit that 196 [points]. But I think [Feb. 14] was the first time they saw their potential of being close to the best.

“We sat down [Feb. 16] and figured out, ‘What’s the one thing you can change?’ and, ‘What’s the 1/10 that you can change on your routine?’ for each person.”

RELATED: GymHawks fall in close battle to No. 8 Michigan

Iowa native and current junior Erin Castle has seen two other Big Five meets in her career in the Black and Gold. After earning a personal best on bars last weekend, the gymnast spoke of how electric and exciting the environment is at the placement competition.

“I’m excited [going into the weekend],” Castle said. “Big Fives is such a fun environment with the podiums. Last year’s Big Fives were so fun. We’ve been on an upward with being more consistent lately, and now we are just trying to put it all together.”

Gymnastics is an individual competition sport that turns into a team-game with the combination of scores. While her gymnasts have been strong on the individual level, Libby recognizes the team aspect and how the Hawkeyes can focus on themselves coming into the weekend.

“That’s the hardest part about our sport in college,” Libby said. “It’s not really a team sport. We try to change that in our freshman right away and teach them that to move the chains. The sixth person can’t hit until the first person hits [during a competition].”

“Coming into the weekend, we are focusing on ourselves. It’s a good thing we don’t see the other half of competition on Saturday, because we’ve already seen them. We will be at our best if we don’t see what everyone else in the arena is doing.”

After the meet in Toledo, the Hawkeyes stay in-state for the annual Cy-Hawk match-up against Iowa State at 6:30 p.m. March 6 in Ames.