April 2, 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 -- With seven Big Ten Conference teams ranked in the top-11 nationally, University of Iowa men's gymnastics coach JD Reive expects his team to get a strong feel for the NCAA Championships from competing at the Big Ten Championships.
The 11th-ranked Hawkeyes host the Championships on April 6-7, and the meet features 48 ranked gymnasts as the strongest conference in the nation will be competing for the league title inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The start time for both days is set for 7 p.m. (CT), and the event will be televised live by the Big Ten Network.
"With Nebraska in the conference and having seven teams, this will have the same layout and same energy as an NCAA Championship," said Reive. "This essentially is an NCAA Championship considering how strong the Big Ten is. It's really fun to be in the heart and soul of men's gymnastics."
The Hawkeyes have hosted three meets inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. After construction forced Iowa to compete at the Field House last season, Reive and the Hawkeyes have enjoyed their new stomping grounds and have even had a few opportunities to practice in it this week.
The Iowa women's gymnastics team hosted the Big Ten Championships on March 24, and the equipment was left standing instead of tearing it down only to put back up two weeks later. This gave the Hawkeyes the opportunity to practice inside the venue and replicate the settings of the conference championships.
"To be at home and to be able to train in there a few times and know what to expect, that is great," said Reive, who is in his second year with the program. "We're looking forward to having a great crowd, and a great energy. Carver has been an awesome venue all season, and we do a great job hosting these meets."
Iowa will be competing against top-ranked Penn State, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan and No. 9 Nebraska. The Hawkeyes have seen every team in the conference at least once this season except for the Nittany Lions.
The conference championships couldn't be coming at a better time as Iowa is coming off its best performance of the season. The Hawkeyes broke its previous season high team score by five points against the Cornhuskers, scoring a 343.350. The performance moved Iowa ahead one spot in the polls to No. 11, an important move for Iowa as the top-12 teams receive invites to compete at the NCAA Qualifier.
"That was big for us, and we had to do that because of the rankings," said Reive. "That pushed us up a spot and gives us a little cushion, and it also helps our confidence and gives us bigger expectations."
The Hawkeyes had four first place finishes against Nebraska, including an all-around title for junior Broderick Shemansky. Shemansky also placed first on high bar with a season best mark on the event. Freshman Mitchell Landau placed first on parallel bars, claiming his first event title of his career. Junior Anton Gryshayev finished first on rings and set a new program record in the progress. Gryshayev, who was named Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week for his efforts, scored a 15.750 on the event, besting his previous high score by five-tenths.
"It's huge to a have a number of guys stepping up like that," said Reive. "We need that leadership on every event. It gave us a lot of momentum, and it's great for those guys to be reaching their personal aspirations and, more importantly, helping the team in a big way."
After the Hawkeyes improved their team score from one competition to the next all but two times this season, Reive has high expectations for his team.
"If we just hit routines like we can and compete to the level these guys are capable of, we can make some noise," said Reive.