Iowa women’s gymnastics set for NCAA Regional

The GymHawks compete in Norman, Oklahoma, on Thursday for a chance to go to nationals.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa’s Bailey Libby competes on floor during a gymnastics meet between No. 18 Iowa and Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. Libby placed 11th in the event with a score of 9.700. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights 196.200-195.125.

Emma Sachs, Sports Reporter

The No. 25 Iowa women’s gymnastics team is headed to Norman, Oklahoma, to compete in regional qualifying for the 2023 NCAA Gymnastics Championships on Thursday.

Based on their regular season ranking, the Hawkeyes qualified to automatically advance to round two of the regional competition, skipping round one. Iowa will compete against No. 8 Alabama, No. 9 Kentucky, No.22 Illinois, and N.C. State, which advanced from round one.

In order to advance to the regional final on April 1st, the Hawkeyes’ team score must place in the top two. The top two teams in the regional final will then advance to the national semifinal.

The Hawkeyes defeated Illinois once this season at the Big Five but were later upset by the Fighting Illini at the Big Ten Championships. Iowa last faced N.C. State in 2011 and the Hawkeyes were defeated by the Wolfpack. The GymHawks have not faced the Wildcats since 2009 and have never competed against the Crimson Tide.

RELATED: JerQuavia Henderson named Big Ten floor champion, Iowa women’s gymnastics finishes eighth at conference Championships

The GymHawks are excited to travel to Oklahoma for some of their biggest competition this season.

“We’re always excited to travel somewhere new, especially Oklahoma,” senior JerQuavia Henderson said. “We’re most excited to do it together. We’ve talked about that all year. We do best when we stay together. When we have fun and are our original goofy selves.”

Henderson is coming off a successful showing at the Big Ten Championships, where she was crowned the Big Ten floor champion for the second time in her collegiate career. Henderson was also named to the All-Big Ten Team.

The GymHawks are coming off an eighth-place finish at the conference championships, where they tallied their third-lowest team score of the season, a 196.125.

Despite the tough upcoming competition, the Hawkeyes are determined to prove their capabilities.

“We’re trying to prove that we aren’t the team that we’ve shown the past couple of weeks,” freshman Bailey Libby said. “We started off really strong at the beginning of the season, but towards the middle, it kind of dropped down a little bit. But we know that we’re a stronger team than what we’ve showcased the last couple of weeks.”

Freshman Gianna Masella said her team is focused on bringing a positive mindset to Norman.

“One of the main goals is just to go have fun,” Masella said. “We’re not going in just thinking about winning, we’re going thinking about bettering ourselves as a team. We’re trying to be ourselves and do better than what we’ve done in the past. We have really strong pieces and we’ve been putting them together slowly and I’m excited to finally put it all together.”

RELATED: Iowa women’s gymnastics head coach Larissa Libby changing the culture of the sport

Henderson said the Hawkeyes plan to leave it all on the floor with their postseason hopes hanging in the balance.

“Our main goal is just to go and have fun and leave without any regrets,” Henderson said.