Iowa gymnastics hits the road for weekend competitions

The Hawkeye men will compete in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday while the Iowa women head to Lincoln for a matchup with Nebraska.


Kate Heston

Iowa’s Lauren Guerin is seen doing a jump during her floor routine at a women’s gymnastics meet between the Iowa Gym-Hawks and the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. The Hawks defeated the Gophers, 196.800-196.375.

Hunter Moeller, Sports Reporter

Iowa men’s and women’s gymnastics both hit the road this week as the regular season nears its end. The No. 8 Iowa men will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face off against No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday at noon at the Covelli Center, while the No. 19 GymHawks make the trek to Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday to compete against the No. 35 Cornhuskers for the second time this season at 4 p.m.

The men come into the matchup with Ohio State fresh off their first loss of the season to No. 2 Michigan, 402.650-398.650.

“We’re really just trying to get the entire lineup to go all the way through, keep that energy, and keep that focus all the way through each lineup of each event,” Senior Bennet Huang said. “If we set our goals higher and hold ourselves to a higher standard, it doesn’t matter who we go against.”

Iowa and Ohio State last met at a triangular meet in March 2020, and the Hawkeyes finished in third while the Buckeyes claimed second place.

This season, Iowa is ranked sixth in the country on vault, seventh on parallel bars, and eighth on the floor, pommel horse, rings, and high bar.

Two Hawkeye men’s gymnasts also rank inside the top 10 nationally for their performances in all-around. Huang currently ranks sixth with a national qualifying average of 81.283, while junior Evan Davis’ 80.850 is good for eighth. Junior Stewart Brown is rated 13th in the country with an average of 78.017.

As the Hawkeyes rapidly approach the postseason, head coach JD Reive is doing everything he can to keep his highly ranked team mentally prepared.

“What we’ve been doing this week and a little bit last week was saying you all have to hit exactly where you want to in a meet in a row,” Reive said. “That may take one time, or it may take twelve times. We’re talking about minuscule things, but it’s very complex and takes a lot of mental focus. Sometimes you’re going to land a little wonky or have a misstep, but you have to struggle through it, figure out how to fix it, and get your mind back on track.”

Like the Hawkeye men’s team, the GymHawks have also had a solid season, most recently defeating No. 19 Illinois, 196.450-196.225.

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Iowa women’s gymnastics clinched the Big Ten Conference regular season title earlier this season, and the Hawkeye women have been ranked as high as No. 7 nationally.

This week, the GymHawks will compete against a familiar Cornhusker squad. The first time the two teams met in 2020-21, Iowa bested Nebraska, 195.850-195.100

Sunday’s competition is the GymHawks’ last of the regular season.

“This week, we’re just focusing a lot more on having confidence in ourselves and a good mentality going into it,” junior Lauren Guerin said. “We’re looking to get back to where we were at the beginning of the year, just relaxed and having fun. That’s when we’re at our best.”

The Hawkeyes currently rank first on floor in the Big Ten and fifth in the nation. The GymHawks are also ranked 19th on vault, 21st on beam, and 23rd on bars.

The GymHawks have several gymnasts who are ranked inside the top 20 in different events. Guerin is currently tied for tenth in the nation on floor with a 9.938 average. Sophomore Jerquavia Henderson and senior Clair Kaji are both tied at 20th nationally with a 9.925 average. Freshman Adeline Kenlin is currently tied at 15th in the country with an average of 9.925 on beam.

Although the GymHawks have accumulated win after win this season, they feel like they have struggled in the past couple of meets with little mistakes.

“There’s bound to be mistakes,” head coach Larissa Libby said. “The one thing that I told them was that I don’t want them to wear them out there. You just got to learn to let them go and move on. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s part of the game.”