Iowa women’s gymnastics season-high score not enough to advance to Regional Finals

The GymHawks post its highest score of the season for a third-place finish at NCAA Tuscaloosa Regionals.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s all-around JerQuavia Henderson practices on the beam before the competition round 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 went on to receive a score of 9.875.

Hunter Moeller , Sports Reporter

The No. 19 ranked Iowa women’s gymnastics team scored a 197.050, its highest score of the season and second-highest in school history, in a third-place finish at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Friday afternoon inside Coleman Coliseum in Alabama.

While the GymHawks received their highest score of the season, the third-place finish marks the end of the women’s record-breaking season. The Hawkeyes needed to finish in second place or higher to qualify for the NCAA Regional finals.

No. 7 Alabama was crowned the winner of Friday’s competition after posting a 197.525, while No. 10 Arkansas finished second with a 197.250. Iowa’s 197.050 was enough to finish in front of Iowa State, who scored a 196.525.

The 197.050 is the highest score for the GymHawks since 2004. Iowa had four gymnasts tie career-best. Sophomore JerQuavia Henderson tied for the title on floor with a 9.925.

“This is so hard,” Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said in a release. “I have no regrets as this was an amazing season, but I am devastated for our seniors. I am so proud of this team for everything they have accomplished this season. They did an excellent job today, and I believed that it would be enough, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.”

The GymHawks didn’t disappoint once again on the floor. The No. 4 team in the nation and No. 1 in the Big Ten posted a 49.450. Henderson led the floor rotation with her first-place finish, junior Alex Greenwald scored a 9.900 for fourth, Kaji, junior Lauren Guerin, and freshman Adeline Kenlin scored a 9.875 to tie for sixth.

On vault, the GymHawks scored 49.175. Henderson, Kenlin, and junior Bridget Killian all scored 9.850. Guerin scored a 9.825, while both junior Carina Tolan and Greenwald scored 9.800.

The GymHawks scored a 49.225 on bars. Kaji finished the rotation tied for fourth with a 9.925. Kenlin scored a 9.900, while both senior Emma Hartzler and Allyson Steffensmeier scored a 9.875.

Kaji showed out on beam, finishing tied for second with a 9.925. Junior Mackenzie Vance scored a 9.875, while Henderson posted a 9.825. Killian followed with a 9.800.

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On all-around, Henderson and Kenlin were the only GymHawks to compete. Henderson scored 39.250, and Kenlin finished with 29.625.

Libby spoke out about the NCAA’s placement system, with the GymHawks season ending sooner than they would have liked.

“As we sit, wait and see if we will have any individual qualifiers moving on, I can’t help but feel frustrated by how these sessions and brackets were set up,” Libby said. “With no disrespect to all the amazing teams and individuals that qualified, I am hopeful that in the future, we will find a better way to represent the rankings more accurately throughout the brackets. Perhaps a certain level of transparency so a team that finished 26th might understand why they were placed in a ‘play in.’

“As frustrated as I am, I don’t want that to overshadow the accomplishments of my team and the teams that moved on to the next round. They all deserve to be recognized and praised for the incredible gymnastics performed today, but I still believe the system is broken.

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