March 8, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By BRADY JOHNSON
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa men's gymnastics head coach JD Reive's training regimen aims at getting his team to peak at the right time. With just two meets left before Iowa hosts the men's gymnastics Big Ten Championships, the right time is now for the 12th-ranked Hawkeyes.
Gymnastics is a sport where improving the team score and peaking towards the end of the season weighs more heavily than wins or loses in the regular season. After Iowa posted a season high team score in its last meet, Reive is confident his squad is on the right path toward achieving that goal.
"The important part is always ramping everything up throughout the course of the season to peak during the conference meet and championship event," said Reive. "We've had a few bumps and bruises here and there, but we will be as prepared as possible by the end of the season. We will be peaking when it counts."
The Hawkeyes posted a season high team score of 338.200 on March 3 to place second in a tri-meet at Minnesota and Brockport. The score exceeded Iowa's previous best mark by nearly four points. The meet will be televised on tape-delay this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CT) by the Big Ten Network.
Iowa's most recent score was a dozen points better than its first score of the season, and the improvements have been indicative of months of training and following Reive's regimen, as well as hard work from the Hawkeye gymnasts. Iowa has improved from one meet to the next on all but one occasion this season.
"The important part is always ramping everything up throughout the course of the season to peak during the conference meet and championship event. We've had a few bumps and bruises here and there, but we will be as prepared as possible by the end of the season. We will be peaking when it counts."
UI head coach JD Reive
"There is so much than goes into it. It's super obsessive compulsive structured training designed to have guys at their peak at the end of the year," said Reive. "It takes intellectual capacity for the guys to understand what it means to cycle and what the results will be, and to trust what I'm teaching them."
The improvement from week-to-week come as no surprise to Reive, but it's a trend Reive has no intentions of discontinuing considering Iowa's ranking.
The top 12 nationally ranked teams advance to compete in the NCAA Qualifier. The top three teams in each session of the qualifier advances to the NCAA Championships to compete for the title. Iowa has been sitting at No. 12 in each of the past two rankings.
"We've been getting better and better each week," said Reive. "We absolutely need to continue that. We are sitting at the 12 spot right now, and that's the cutoff, so it's vital to keep improving."
The Hawkeyes' pursuit of improving its team score hasn't been without facing adversity on the way. Returning from a strong freshman campaign, Lance Alberhasky suffered a season ending injury before the first meet. Junior Matt McGrath, a reigning All-American, has been limited with a knee injury as well. Junior Javier Balboa has also been limited due to injury as of late after establishing himself as an all-around threat.
Reive's team mentality has helped lessen the blows from such setbacks, as plenty of gymnasts like freshman Devin Clarke and Brandon Field are stepping up to fill the voids. Meanwhile, McGrath and Balboa are fighting through those injuries.
"We don't have one gymnast that accounts for a huge amount of the team score. Our team is made up of everybody, and that's what I've been trying to get them to understand," said Reive. "We have guys that are stepping up and surprising people, and then we have guys like McGrath, Balboa, (Broderick) Shemansky and (Anton) Gryshayev that are very stable. It takes everybody in the lineup to make it work."
Reive's desire to have his team peaking as it enters the postseason is only made greater by the location of the Big Ten Championships this season: Iowa's own Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The event will be April 6-7 starting at 7 p.m. (CT) each day.
"We always preach that it doesn't matter where you are, if it's an abandoned garage in Siberia or in Carver, you perform and execute the same way," said Reive. "But, it's impossible not to be excited about hosting that event in Carver. It's a great venue, and it's fun to have a home crowd, and our guys will be excited for that."
Iowa hosts No.3 Illinois on March 17 at 7 p.m. (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It will be Senior Day for Zach Cazabon and Adam Wilson. Iowa will compete one week later on March 24 at Nebraska to close out the regular season before turning its attention toward the Big Ten Championships.