No. 12 GymHawks set for showdown in Ann Arbor

Iowa women’s gymnastics heads to Ann Arbor, Michigan, this weekend to compete in the Big Five Meet.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s all-around JerQuavia Henderson performs on the beam during a women’s gymnastics meet between Iowa, Minnesota, and Maryland on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes came in second with a score of 196.775 after the Gophers won with 196.975 and Maryland lost with 195.350. Henderson received a score of 9.875.

Hunter Moeller , Sports Reporter

The 12th-ranked Iowa women’s gymnastics team will hit the road this weekend for the Big Five Meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Scheduled for Saturday at the Crisler Center, the Big Five Meet features Iowa, No. 5 Michigan, No. 30 Penn State, No. 31 Michigan State, and No. 43 Rutgers

In last year’s Big Five Meet, the GymHawks squared off against Nebraska, Ohio State, Illinois, and Rutgers. In that meet, Nebraska came away with a win while Iowa finished fourth.

“The Big Five is always a really exciting meet because it’s half of the Big Ten all in the same arena,” Castle said. “I think it puts everyone on the same playing field. It’s always a very exciting meet with a lot of energy. We always love going there, and we always have a lot of fun. I think everyone is excited for it.”

The Hawkeyes enter the Big Five Meet riding a five-meet win streak. Iowa is 5-1 on the season as it lost its season-opening competition to Minnesota.

Part of the Hawkeyes’ success can be attributed to their unmatched performance on the floor this season. The GymHawks currently hold the No. 1 national ranking in the event with an average score of 49.383.

Senior Clair Kaji is currently rated No. 2 in the Big Ten and eighth nationally on floor with a 9.908 average. Sophomore JerQuavia Henderson tied a school record and posted her career-best on floor with a 9.975 in a tri-meet with Minnesota and Maryland.

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On beam, Iowa is ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 8 in the country with a 49.129 average score. Freshman Adeline Kenlin posted a career-best 9.950 on beam in Iowa’s Feb. 20 matchup with Nebraska.

The GymHawks are third in the Big Ten and 16th in the nation on vault. Henderson and junior Bridget Killian both set season-bests in the competition against Nebraska, scoring a 9.850.

Henderson is the only Hawkeye competing in all-around this season. She currently has a 39.175 average score, good enough to rank her seventh in the Big Ten and 38th nationally.

This season, the GymHawks have won 15 individual events. Kaji has claimed five event titles, Guerin and Kenlin have won three apiece, and Henderson has picked up two event victories.

Following last week’s dual with Nebraska, Hawkeye head coach Larissa Libby had one simple message for her team, even if her athletes didn’t feel like they performed to their full potential.

“The last message I gave them was, I have a belief that everything that has happened to this point, good or bad, on this journey for us has happened at the right time for whatever reason,” Libby said. “There’s a purpose for it. I have to believe that we made that mistake at that time for a good reason. I would have rather made the mistake then than making it at Big Five or in the postseason when a championship is on the line.”

Saturday’s Big Five Meet will be streamed live on BTN+ at 1 p.m.

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