Iowa gymnastics ends weekend with two Big Ten Champions and underdog win

Iowa women’s gymnastics finished third at Big Ten Championships, and the men’s team ended its regular season by beating No. 4 Nebraska.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s all-around Adeline Kenlin performs on the beam during a gymnastics meet against Ohio State on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 at Carver Hawkeye arena. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes with a score, 196.550-193.800. Kenlin earned a score of 9.825.

Hunter Moeller, Sports Reporter

Iowa gymnastics capped off an eventful weekend with the No. 8 men’s team winning its regular-season and program finale with a 406.700-406.650 win against No. 4 Nebraska on Saturday afternoon inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The women’s team competed in the Big Ten Championships Saturday evening and came away with a third-place tie, scoring a 196.625.

The men couldn’t have asked for a better finish to end its regular season, especially because the competition was the program’s last in Carver-Hawkeye Arena ever.

Iowa also celebrated its seniors, Bennet Huang, Addison Chung, and Kulani Taylor.

Now 4-2, Iowa put up a 406.700, which is the team’s highest score this season. The Hawkeyes couldn’t have done it at a better time.

“That meet probably took a couple of years off my life,” Huang said. “It was great to go out like that, and we wanted to make a statement.”

Both programs were neck and neck throughout the entire competition.

Iowa began the rotation on floor, where it put up a season-high of 69.100. Huang continued his stellar season with a share of the title with a 14.300. Taylor and junior Evan Davis both scored season highs of 14.100 for fourth.

In the second rotation on pommel, Huang once again led the way for the Hawkeyes. His 13.600 was good enough for a third-place finish. Davis finished fourth with a career-high of 13.550. Junior Drew Helberg scored himself a career-best of 13.400. After the rotation, Nebraska led 135.950-135.000.

Iowa flipped the script against Nebraska on rings. Freshman James Friedman had himself a career day, posting a 13.600 for second place. Junior Peyton Hobson followed with a 13.500, placing him third. Iowa scored a season-high of 67.750 on rings.

Vault was the event that the Hawkeyes excelled on and has been their best event all year. Junior Stewart Brown won the title with a career-best and Iowa record of 14.900. Sophomore Amari Sewell continued his success with a second-place finish of 14.650. Huang followed with a third-place finish, scoring a 14.500.

Sophomore Carter Tope took second with a 13.850 on parallel bars. Huang acquired another third-place finish with a career-best 13.750.

Coming into the final rotation, Nebraska closed the gap and brought the match total to a tie.

The Hawkeye’s did just enough on high bar to seal the victory. Davis, who ended the event, scored a 13.650, good enough for third place. Huang’s season-best of 13.550 gave him fourth, and junior Noah Scigliano’s career-best 13.400 was good enough for sixth.

All three of the all-around gymnasts finished with career bests. Huang placed first with an 83.100, Davis second with an 82.050, and Brown fourth with a 79.500.

RELATED: Iowa gymnastics set for home and road matchups

Iowa head men’s gymnastics coach JD Reive said he was proud of how his team competed, especially with this being its final competition at home.

“I’m a little bit emotional,” Reive said. “You could not have written a better Cinderella story ending. We were tied going into the final routine, which never happens. The probability of that is ridiculous. It was a ton of fun. We really did our job tonight, and I am proud of my kids. They killed it.”

The men will compete in the Big Ten Championships April 3 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The No. 18 women, who were this year’s regular’s season conference champs with a 10-1 record, fell just short in the Big Ten Championships Saturday evening inside Maturi Pavilion.

The GymHawks competed at 5:30 p.m. against No. 16 Illinois, No. 3 Michigan, and No. 7 Minnesota. Iowa finished tied for third with Illinois after both teams posted 196.625. The score is the highest finish for Iowa since 2017. Minnesota won the championship with a program-record of 197.750, followed by Michigan with 197.425.

While the GymHawks didn’t come away with the team championship, they still had strong individual performances.

The GymHawks had two gymnasts score career bests, five tie career bests, one set a new season high, and, as a team, set two new season highs on vault and bars. Four scores were added to the Iowa record book.

Junior Lauren Guerin and sophomore JerQuavia Henderson were both Big Ten Champions on floor as the two GymHawks earned a share of the title with a 9.950. The score ties Guerin’s career-high, the fourth-best in school history. Senior Clair Kaji posted a 9.900, and freshman Adeline Kenlin tied a career-best with a 9.875.

On vault, the Hawkeyes scored a season-high team score of 49.325. Henderson led the Hawkeyes with a 9.925, tying her career-best and setting a new season-high. She finished tied for fourth. Junior Alex Greenwald, Kenlin, Guerin, and junior Bridget Killian all scored a 9.850. The score is a season-best for Greenwald and ties Kenlin’s career high. Junior Carina Tolan also scored a career-high with a 9.825.

Iowa set a new season-high on vault with a 49.375, third-best all-time. Kaji shared the runner-up position with a career-high 9.925. Sophomore Allyson Steffensmeier’s 9.900 earned her a tie for fifth, and senior Emma Hartzler tied her career-best with a 9.875. Kenlin scored a 9.850, and sophomore Ellie Rogers scored a 9.825.

Beam was the final event for the GymHawks. Senior Erin Castle’s 9.825 career-high led the way for Iowa. Killian also posted a 9.825. Kenlin and fellow freshman Aubrey Nick followed with 9.750 and 9.725.

Henderson and Kenlin were the two GymHawks to compete for the all-around title. Kenlin scored a 39.325 for a fifth-place finish, while Henderson’s 38.925 notched her a 12th place finish.

Three GymHawks — Guerin, Henderson, and Kaji — were named to the Big Ten All-Championships Team because of their performance.

Iowa head women’s gymnastics coach Larissa Libby and Kenlin earned Big Ten top honors, it was announced after the competition concluded. Kenlin was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while Libby was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

The GymHawks will compete in the NCAA Regional Championships April 1. The placements will be announced Monday at 4 p.m.