Iowa women’s gymnast Adeline Kenlin looks to build on strong freshman season

The 2021 Big Ten Freshman of the Year will return to the mat with the Hawkeyes in January.


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.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

Adeline Kenlin chose to launch her collegiate gymnastics career in her hometown. The West Branch High School graduate from Iowa City has competed with the University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team since the 2021 season.

Kenlin won the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award four times last year. She was also named the 2020-21 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and to the All-Big Ten first team.

Kenlin’s first season of collegiate gymnastics was odd. Athletes in the Big Ten Conference had to deal with a bevy of COVID-19-related policies. Though, for Kenlin, having the opportunity to compete was enough to make her first season at Iowa meaningful.

“Honestly, it just felt completely normal,” Kenlin said. “I felt like I was at home. It was really great to get out there. I’m really excited this year to be here with a bunch of fans in the stadium.”

Hawkeye head coach Larissa Libby attributes some of Kenlin’s early success to how she handled the transition from high school to collegiate gymnastics.

“For her to have made that transition so incredibly smooth, and then put herself out there, not only as someone to be relied on, but also as an incredible team member, was so [impressive],” Libby said.

Kenlin broke a UI record with 9.975 beam score she registered in a meet with Nebraska on March 14. Despite her success, she’s still set lofty goals for herself this season.

“Last year, my goal was to get a ten, but 9.975 is just as good too, I guess,” Kenlin said. “My goal is to get a couple tens this year.”

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Libby believes Kenlin is more than equipped to reach her goal in 2022. Libby thinks Kenlin’s drive and motivation can help her reach her goals on beam.

“She’s one of those kids that you can look at and say, ‘If you decide that, I do not doubt that’s what’s going to happen,’” Libby said. “There’s no reason for her not to score that. She is certainly capable. She’s very driven in all the right ways.”

On top of her pedigree, Kenlin’s teammates say her impact extends far beyond her talent on the mat. The now-sophomore has stepped into a leadership role within the program at a young age.

“She makes sure everyone feels comfortable in and out of the gym,” senior Alex Greenwald said. “She’s not afraid to hold people accountable in order to make our team better . . . I think, as a sophomore, it’s really cool to see that.”

Kenlin’s teammates aren’t the only ones that see her her leadership skills. Her coaches also feel like she can make an impact off the mat as much as she can on it.

“It’s hard to be a good leader when you don’t have support around you,” Libby said. “So, I think it speaks volumes to her confidence as a person and where she can go as an athlete. Her confidence, trust, and loyalty to her team — they trust her, they love her — they wouldn’t allow her to [be a leader] if they didn’t believe what she was saying.”

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