Iowa women’s gymnastics to face Minnesota for second time in 2022 season

Iowa first matched up with Minnesota on Jan. 17, and the Hawkeyes fell to the Golden Gophers in a tri-meet.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa’s Adeline Kenlin competes on beam during a gymnastics meet between No. 18 Iowa and Eastern Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Kenlin was named Big Ten freshman of the year last season. The Hawkeyes defeated the Eagles 195.950-194.100.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s gymnastics team will face off against No. 8 Minnesota this weekend, marking the second time the Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers will meet in Minneapolis this season.

Iowa traveled to Minneapolis on Jan. 17 for a triangular meet with Minnesota and UCLA. The Hawkeyes came in second in the tri-meet, as the Golden Gophers took the crown.

Last weekend, the Hawkeyes competed at the annual Big Five meet in Toledo, Ohio. Iowa finished fourth out of five teams.

The reigning Big Ten champion Hawkeyes fell to No. 1 Michigan, Ohio State, and Illinois. Michigan took the overall meet crown, clinching the 2022 Big Ten Conference regular season title in the process.

RELATED: Iowa women’s gymnastics finishes fourth in Big Five Meet

Despite the low mark, junior JerQuavia Henderson said the team is unconcerned with their final standings in Geneva last Friday.

“Honestly, we felt like our scores didn’t really match up to how we performed,” she said. “We walked away feeling really good about ourselves, because we had some great gymnastics. And that’s all we’re looking for in order to build ourselves up throughout the season.”

Iowa moved up three spots this week to No. 13 in the most recent Road to Nationals poll — calculated by teams’ average score throughout meets in the 2022 season. Iowa’s national qualifying score is 196.263 points.

Senior Alex Greenwald said the GymHawks’ ranking gives them hope of pursuing a title.

“It’s really exciting to be ranked thirteenth,” she said. “One of our top goals for this season is to be ranked in the top sixteen at the end of the year, because then we’ll be seeded heading into NCAAs. That would definitely improve our chances of finishing where we want to this season.”

Greenwald also said head coach Larissa Libby has told her athletes not to concern themselves with scores.

“She was proud of the improvements we made last week,” she said. “We don’t need to make big changes at this moment, we just need to control what we can control. That means we need to not worry about what our opponents do or the scores the judges give us; she just wants us to go out and give our best performance possible.”

The Big Five Meet saw the return of Hawkeye sophomore Adeline Kenlin, the conference’s reigning freshman of the year. Kenlin had been out of competition since Jan. 17 with an unspecified injury.

Kenlin only competed in one event for the Hawkeyes. She led the GymHawks on bars, scoring a 9.850.

“It always feels amazing to see your little sisters doing what they love,” Henderson said. “She’s such a competitor, and she’s phenomenal at getting the job done and earning points for our team.”

Although Kenlin was out for almost a month, Greenwald said her impact was still felt throughout the season.

“While she’s been out, she’s been an awesome leader on the sidelines,” she said. “But having her back on the floor has been incredible, because she boosts the entire team’s confidence just by being out there.”

After this weekend’s bout in Minneapolis, the Gymhawks will have just two regular season competitions left to prepare for this year’s Big Ten Championships.

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