Iowa women’s gymnastics to compete against conference rivals in Big Five Meet

Iowa will take on No. 1 Michigan, No. 22 Ohio State, No. 39 Maryland, and No. 26 Illinois in Toledo, Ohio, this weekend.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa senior Lauren Guerin performs her floor routine during a gymnastics meet between Iowa and Texas Women’s University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. Guerin tied for 2nd place with 9.875. The Hawkeyes defeated the Pioneers, 196.125-189.300.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s gymnastics team will face off against four conference rivals this weekend at the Big Five Meet in Toledo, Ohio.

Iowa will battle against top-ranked Michigan, as well as No. 22 Ohio State, No. 39 Maryland, and No. 26 Illinois.

Senior Clair Kaji said the GymHawks expect to see more talent at this year’s installment of the annual Big Five Meet.

“The Big Ten is extremely good this year, top to bottom,” she said. “We always want a stronger competition level within the conference, and we’re seeing some really good gymnastics from the entire Big Ten this year. We’re expecting a good meet with some great competition.”

The Hawkeyes are 6-1 overall on the season and rated at No. 17 in the Road to Nationals rankings.

Senior Lauren Guerin said the GymHawks are more concerned with their performance on the mat than their rankings. But they would still like to see their performances reflected in the polls, she said.

“We still feel like we haven’t reached our full potential,” Guerin said. “Although that’s been frustrating, it’s been motivating us in the gym to go out and strive for a better score each week.”

To get a higher ranking, Iowa will have to go through No. 1 Michigan, the reigning NCAA Champions, this weekend. Kaji said the GymHawks are looking forward to their opportunity to go up against the Wolverines.

“It’s really exciting to go up against the No. 1 team in the country,” Kaji said. “They’ve got some beautiful gymnastics. We’re hoping to show what we can do, and hopefully, we will surprise some people.”

Kaji said the meet, as well as Michigan’s prominence atop the rankings, will bring national attention to Big Ten gymnastics.

“We see this weekend as an opportunity to show not only what we as a program can do, but what the Big Ten Conference is capable of as a whole,” Kaji said.

Iowa, the reigning Big Ten Conference regular season champions, has started the season undefeated in league play. The Hawkeyes are 3-0 in the conference after last weekend’s victory at Rutgers.

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Guerin said the GymHawks have continually focused on doing the little things throughout the 2022 season.

“We’ve been pretty consistently trying to focus on the details in our routines these past few weeks,” Guerin said. “As we grow more confident in our ability to do those little things the right way, we’re getting closer to hitting our full potential.”

The GymHawks have passed the midpoint of their regular season, with just four duals left in 2022 before the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.

But Kaji said the GymHawks have realistic goals with their time left this season.

“This is a long season, every single year,” Kaji said. “The past few seasons have been chaotic with cancellations, but knowing we have a pretty secure opportunity to finish out the season this year means we have that time left to grow and reach the full ability we know we’re capable of finding.

“I think it’s encouraging that we haven’t done our best at this point in the season, because we’re on the right track to be very dangerous when it matters most.”

The meet will begin at 6 p.m. and will be streamed live on FloGymnastics.