Iowa women’s gymnastics to travel to Raleigh for NCAA Regional Championships

Iowa will compete against No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Missouri, and North Carolina State on Thursday afternoon.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa head coach Larissa Libby instructs her team during a gymnastics meet between Iowa and Texas Women’s University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Pioneers, 196.125-189.300.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s gymnastics team will compete at the NCAA Regional Championships on Thursday in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 22nd-ranked GymHawks will face off against No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Missouri, and North Carolina State. The top two team finishers at the meet will move on to the NCAA regional finals on Saturday.

Although the GymHawks are competing against two teams with higher rankings, senior Lauren Guerin said Iowa isn’t worried heading into the meet.

“We’re still just focusing on ourselves,” she said. “Obviously, LSU and Mizzou are two really great teams to compete against, but I think we have just as much potential when we do it our way and have fun.”

Thursday afternoon could be the final meet for GymHawk seniors Guerin, Allie Gilchrist, Alex Greenwald, Clair Kaji, Bridget Killian, Carina Tolan, and Mackenzie Vance. But sophomore JerQuavia Henderson said the Hawkeyes are focused on a victory to make sure that isn’t the case.

“We have nothing to lose,” Henderson said. “We’re going to go big, go all out, and do it for our seniors because we owe a lot to them.”

After a third-place finish at Big Ten Championships on March 19, the GymHawks awaited regionals on a 12-day break from competition.

Henderson said Iowa head coach Larissa Libby kept practice fun and competitive during the hiatus.

“We’ve been focused on our team atmosphere,” she said. “In practice, we had a game where we divided our team into “Black” and “Gold” and competed. It kept us in the loop of how it feels to compete and strive to win and want to be great for each other.”

RELATED: Iowa women’s gymnastics finishes third at Big Ten Championships

As the team continued training, some postseason honors rolled the Hawkeyes’ way.

Guerin and Henderson both earned second-team All-American honors on floor on March 24. The Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association determines All-America honors by national qualifying scores. The top eight NQS scores earn first-team All-America honors, and 9-16 scores in the nation garner second-team All-American status.

Guerin finished the regular season with a 9.950 average score on floor. Henderson was close behind with an average of 9.945 points.

“It’s obviously really exciting,” Guerin said. “It’s such an honor, and to be part of Gymhawk history forever is a really cool feeling. I couldn’t have done it without my team, so I’m feeling very grateful and thankful for having them.”

The University of Iowa athletic department also extended Libby’s contract on March 23. Libby, who has been the Hawkeyes’ head coach for 18 years, is now under contract until 2026.

“I was extremely happy for her,” Henderson said. “I called her right away and congratulated her. It’s always good to see the people you love and appreciate succeeding and getting the recognition they deserve. I was extremely proud of her, and if I could stay around [in Iowa City] that long, I probably would too.”

Guerin said Libby’s impact on the GymHawks reaches further than the mat.

“She leads with such integrity and heart,” Guerin said. “She really puts the person before the athlete, and really tries to shape us into strong women with amazing careers ahead of us. Her extension was absolutely deserved, and I’m so happy for her.”

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