The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa second-year gymnast Karina Muñoz builds off of impressive first-year campaign

Muñoz continues to improve in her second season with the Black and Gold.
Matt Sindt
Iowa’s Karina Muñoz competes on beam during session two of the Big Ten Gymnastics Championship at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on Saturday, March 18, 2023. Michigan won the Big Ten women’s gymnastics title with a score of 198.000.

Iowa second-year all-around gymnast Karina Muñoz took every opportunity she could to get in competitions during her first season for the Iowa women’s gymnastics team last year — and now it’s paying off.

As a first-year from East Brunswick, New Jersey, Muñoz competed in all 12 meets. She was one of only two athletes to compete in all-around during the season.

She notched seven event titles and 13 top-three finishes, scoring a 9.800 or better on every vault performance in the year.

“As a freshman, I didn’t expect to do as much as I did,” Muñoz said. “I feel like that was kind of different. I feel like I had to prepare my head more. But now that I was able to compete at all-around last year, and leaning toward this year too, I felt that was something.”

That “something” was momentum propelling into her second year with GymHawks, in which she is now poised to break out for this Hawkeye squad.

After her impressive rookie season at Iowa, Muñoz earned a spot in the Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch List this preseason.

Despite not enjoying what comes with the early hype, Muñoz uses it as fuel to power her through her second-year campaign.

So far this season, Muñoz has done just that. She’s lived up to the preseason expectations.

In three meets this year, she has already earned three event titles, averaging a 9.800 or higher on beam, bars, and vault.

“I feel like I held back and could have done more [last season],” Muñoz said. “Now that I have that year out of the way, I can use everything I didn’t use last year and use it this year.”

One factor that Muñoz thought she could improve on was the mental aspect of the sport. Heading into a new year, both athletically and academically at the University of Iowa, Muñoz has a more positive mentality than she has ever had as a GymHawk.

“During the summer or even during the preseason, I feel like things were hard for me,” Muñoz said of the balance. Iowa head coach Larissa Libby still thinks Muñoz can improve after an already impressive first-year campaign, emphasizing that she hasn’t scratched the surface of her full-blown potential.

“I think that she trusts herself more,” Libby said. “She’s a good competitor — there is no question about that. But I think that she’s a little more self-assured, so that presents a lot better.

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About the Contributor
Jake Olson, Sports Reporter
Email: [email protected] Jake Olson is a Sports Reporter for The Daily Iowan. In his three years with the paper, he has covered everything from rowing to basketball. He is studying journalism and mass communication with a minor in sports and rec management.