Iowa gymnastics set for home and road matchups

Iowa women’s gymnastics is on the road competing for the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis, and the men’s team is at home against Nebraska.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa all around Bennet Huang performs on the rings on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2022 during the Iowa vs. Penn State men’s gymnastics meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa defeated Penn State 398.850-393.550. Huang placed seventh overall on the rings with a final score of 12.700.

Hunter Moeller , Sports Reporter

Iowa gymnastics are back this weekend, with the No. 18 women’s team heading to Minneapolis Saturday to take part in the Big Ten Championships at 5:30 p.m., while the No. 8 men’s team will stay home to play host to Nebraska in its regular-season finale at 3:00 p.m. Both meets will be televised on BTN.

The women’s team ended its regular season last week with a win against No. 35 Nebraska, 196.825-196.100. The score was its highest of the season.

This will be the first Big Ten Championships appearance for the GymHawks in two years, as last year’s Big Ten Championships was canceled because of COVID-19.

The GymHawks have already added a regular-season Big Ten title to their resume, and they will try to add the championships title come Sunday.

While the Big Ten Championship is important, Iowa head women’s gymnastics coach Larissa Libby doesn’t want the team to forget the regular-season title it already won one but staying focused is essential.

“There’s a lot of amazing things that this team has done,” Libby said. “And I want them to remember they’ve already done that. Don’t focus on those things right now. Go to the championship and push to be your very best.”

Iowa has had success in every event. The GymHawks rank first in the Big Ten on floor and are tied for third in the nation. The GymHawks are also ranked 18th on vault and 22nd on both bars and beam.

Several GymHawks are ranked inside the top 25 in specific events. Junior Lauren Guerin and sophomore JerQuavia Henderson are both tied at 11th in the nation on floor, and senior Clair Kaji is tied for 23rd. Freshman Adeline Kenlin is currently tied for eighth on beam.

With it being the postseason, there is always pressure, something Kaji said they have to use to their advantage.

RELATED: Iowa gymnastics ends weekend with victory and defeat

“There is pressure,” Kaji said. “And Larissa says that as well. I think not being afraid of the pressure, using the pressure to our advantage, doing what we know how to do, and not changing anything when we go to a meet is important. Having fun and being our genuine, authentic self, I think it’s always been what this team is about.”

Opposite of the women’s team, the men’s team are coming into their competition with Nebraska off a 406.100-395.750 loss to Ohio State. The loss is the second of the season and second in a row for the men.

The matchup with Nebraska is the season finale for the men, and the senior Hawkeyes will be honored. Senior Bennet Huang said the mental focus is essential.

“Obviously, we want to go out with a bang,” Huang said. “But honestly for us, it’s just about improving as much as we can. We know what’s at stake, and we want to prove that we’re one of the top teams.”

Despite the men’s gymnastics program coming to an end because of COVID-19 implications, the men have stayed focused and continued to compete at a high level.

The Hawkeyes are currently ranked inside the top ten in every event. Iowa is ranked sixth on vault, seventh on parallel bars, eighth on pommel horse, rings, and high bar. The Hawkeyes are also ranked ninth on floor.

Several Hawkeyes are gymnasts are highly ranked for their all-around performances. Huang is fifth in the country with an 81.500 national qualifying average. Junior Evan Davis is ninth with an 80.850, and junior Stewart Brown is ranked 12th with a 78.583 average.

Iowa head men’s gymnastics coach JD Reive said it’s important to make sure the team is putting everything into the competition.

“Having conversations with them, individually, as a group, and just talking about how we want to end this season is crucial,” Reive said. “If everybody’s on 100 percent, and we get beat, so be it. You can’t regret that, but there will be regret if you don’t put everything out there in your practices and in the last couple of meets.”

Facebook Comments