The No. 10 Iowa men’s gymnastics team hosts Big Ten rival No. 6 Illinois inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 1. The previous matchup between the two resulted in a 398.800-410.450 loss for the Hawkeyes last season.
Junior Bennet Huang leads the Hawkeyes in the all-around with a season-high 81.050 and an average score of 79.670 and is ranked ninth nationally. His career-best on vault (14.550) was performed last year against the Fighting Illini in Champaign-Urbana.
Huang was the sole gymnast from Iowa competing in the World Cup, which is a national meet in preparation for building the Men’s National Team for USA. The Palo Alto, California, native finished 27th overall in the preliminary round (77.900), with his best coming on floor and earning a 13.750.
The Winter cup consisted of a total of 42 gymnasts from 19 teams. Huang also competed for the Hawkeyes at the 2019 Winter Cup. He tied for fifth on floor with his two-session score of 27.750. Huang also finished 18th on pommel horse (24.550), 14th on rings (24.850), and 18th on the high bar (25.050).
The Hawkeyes have strength on floor going into the meet, with sophomore Evan Davis leading with a career-best 14.400 against Nebraska in January. Davis earned Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Feb. 11 after his stellar performance against top-ranked Oklahoma.
Davis won the all-around with a career-best 81.950. The Houston native also placed second on rings (13.600) and third on the floor (14.200) and parallel bars (13.800). It was Davis’ third Big Ten honor of his career.
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Senior Mitch Mandozzi is also a key component of the Hawkeyes’ success. He takes vault for Iowa and completed a personal 14.600 against the Cornhuskers.
The Hawkeyes are ranked fifth nationally on vault, seventh on high bar, eighth on floor, 10th on pommel horse, 10th on parallel bars, and 11th on rings.
The Fighting Illini are 3-1 currently in the season, staying steady at .500 in the Big Ten. The team’s only loss in the conference is to Minnesota. Junior Jordan Kovach competed in Las Vegas at the Winter Cup for the Fighting Illini, finishing 37th on parallel bars (11.800) and 39th on vault (12.100).
The highlight of the season so far for Illinois was defeating No. 4 Nebraska on Feb. 1 by a score of 407.050-399.850.
Illinois is ranked nationally second on rings, third on vault, sixth on pommel horse, sixth on floor, eighth on parallel bars, and tenth on high bar.
Iowa’s next meet is March 7 in Columbus, Ohio, where the Hawkeyes will take on Ohio State at 12:30 p.m.
The March 1 meet is one of only four remaining dual competitions for the Hawkeyes before the Big Ten Championships April 3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The NCAA Tournament shortly follows on April 17.