March 20, 2006
Take down the basketball hoops. Roll away the wrestling mats.
This weekend Carver Hawkeye Arena becomes gymnastics central as the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team hosts the Big Ten Championships.
The six teams representing the Big Ten will battle Friday and Saturday evening for the team title as well as individual crowns.
Despite all the little details involved in hosting the championship, the team is excited to use the home atmosphere to its advantage.
“It’s a little bit of an advantage. We are going to use our own equipment, which we are familiar with. We’ve had one competition in Carver, and we’ll be able to get one more practice than the competition,” said Iowa Head Coach Tom Dunn.
With the advantages of competing at home, come the disadvantages as well.
“They [the athletes] get to sleep in their own bed. But, they still have to go to all their classes. That’s something they wouldn’t have to do if we were on the road,” he said.
While hosting the Big Ten meet has many benefits, planning for an event this large has its drawbacks. Luckily for Dunn, Iowa has an event staff ready to tackle the challenge.
“We’re lucky at Iowa to have a good event staff. This lets the coaches focus on their own team,” he said. “However, I’m still pretty involved just making sure on all the details.”
In addition to getting Carver Hawkeye set up for a gymnastics meet, there are many other things to consider. The concession stands need to be in operation. Not only is the Hawk Shop open, merchandise advertising the Big Ten Championships is needed. There needs to be security for the parking lots and the event itself. Meet programs are created and distributed.
“There are more teams to consider and a lot more preparation over the course of the year. There’s a lot more people involved in the running and setup of the meet,” said Dunn.
Adding to the excitement of this year’s competition is the new scoring system. After the scoring difficulties that occurred during the 2004 Athens Olympics, the governing body of men’s gymnastics adopted new rules to ensure problems would seldom occur at the collegiate level.
Using the new scoring rules, the team championship will be determined using the top four scores from the team’s six competitors.
For Coach Dunn and the rest of the Hawkeyes, the preparation for the competition at home is the same as it would be for a road meet. Dunn is looking for his team to maintain focus and do everything they normally would.
“We need to stay healthy. That’s probably the most important thing. To be able to focus on the competition, but not make it an especially big deal is the key,” said Dunn.
This competition is also special for the seniors, specifically Michael Reavis. The four-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week enters the competition ranked first nationally on the floor exercise.
Dunn is looking at this week as a chance to get all the minor details worked out while keeping his team level.
“For the most part, the work’s already done. It’s just a matter of fine tuning,” said Dunn.
The Big Ten Championships starts Friday in Carver Hawkeye Arena at 7 pm. The competition resumes Saturday at 7 pm.
By Jennifer Bissel, Iowa Sports Information