Rising to the Challenge

Jan. 17, 2006

The Iowa men’s gymnastics team ended last season with a bang. Then-junior Michael Reavis was crowned NCAA Champion on the vault. His 9.55 score earned him all-America honors. Iowa also boasted two other all-Americans in junior Michael McNamara and senior Linas Gaveika.

Now, the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes look to build off last year’s strong finish while trying to adjust to the loss of six competitors.

“We obviously have some talented freshmen who’ll hopefully be able to help us here and there and provide some scores. We also have some other team members who have been around a few years but haven’t contributed much to this point,” said Head Coach Tom Dunn.

Iowa will need everyone to step up this year, as the six lost gymnasts accounted for 53 percent of Iowa’s competitive scores.

Dunn expects a team effort from his entire roster, however there are a few he expects to lead the way.

“We have a team captain, Jacques Bouchard, who will have leadership duties. We have another senior who will be a team leader gymnastically, Michael Reavis,” he said.

“We have some other juniors and seniors who will play a big role such as Bryan Borland and Curtis Kleffman.”

While Dunn has high expectations for his leaders, he’s still waiting for the season to kick into high gear before determining exactly what his team is capable of.

“We haven’t set any specific team goals. We want to do well in Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, especially since we’re hosting the Big Ten]meet,” he said.

“We have a very strong conference and new scoring rules we have to get used to. We have to get into a few competitions to see how strong we’ll be.”

The new scoring rules may take everyone a while to get used to. Due to the judging problems that occurred at the 2004 Athens Olympics, the men’s gymnastics governing body adopted new rules to ensure those problems would never occur at the collegiate level.

The new rules include a difference in how the overall scores are averaged, the coach’s protest procedures, and in the number of judges and panels.

Despite the changes, Dunn is anxiously awaiting competition. “I kind of like the new rules in the sense that it’s a challenge. Everyone is on the same page with the new rules,” he said.

One of the challenges comes in the form of adjusting to lower scores. With more judges who are responsible for judging more specific aspects of the performance, Dunn is concerned about egos.

“The scores are probably going to be lower. That will have an affect on their ego the first couple of meets. Their scores will be lower than they used to be. I think in the long run they will rise to the challenge,” he said.

The GymHawks next compete at Illinois-Chicago, Jan. 21. They will host the Big Ten Championships March 24-25.