Hawkeyes Head Into Season

Oct. 24, 2006

If there is one thing that Larissa Libby has learned in her coaching career is that there will always be transitions to adjust to and adversity to fight, but it is how you deal with these things that ultimately determine the success of your team.

Iowa faces the 2007 season having lost two members of its senior class, Romina Mazzoni and Bobbie Zimmerman. Due to the loss of those two athletes, the leadership of the team will fall in the hands of seniors Danielle Legeai and Beth Dilick.

Legeai, working hard in the off season, has improved her strength in order to accomplish the goals she looks to achieve this season. She has always been a consistent beam worker for us but we hope that she will be able to contribute on both floor and bars this year as a result of her diligence over the summer. Dilick, having fallen short of achieving her goals last season, has gained a new insight into what she wants to accomplish this year. If she can focus on making her performance count for the team, the coaches are sure that she will be successful.

“We’ve been impressed with both Beth and Danielle since they’ve returned from the summer. Gymnastically they’ve both been great but the effort they have made to guide the team down a path of success has been remarkable They have truly made an attempt to take control of the team, their attitudes, and the goals they want to accomplish this season. Both Beth and Danielle have shown a great deal of leadership already this year and we are hopeful that they will help the team stay settled and focused throughout the season,” said Libby.

Iowa’s junior class, consisting of Katie Burke, Amanda Rudolph, and Ally Zipse, gained a wealth of competitive experience last season. They will be providing the much needed depth and consistency that was missing from last year’s team. Burke has upgraded her level of difficulty on all four events in the off-season and has returned this fall with a fierce desire to win.

The sophomore class will certainly be the biggest question mark this season. Not in a negative way, but simply due to the fact that we have not yet seen the true potential that lies within this class. With Kara Pinjuv, sidelined for the entire season last year and Jenifer Simbhudas, having only competed in a few meets, the team was missing two key competitors. Brandi Loffer, the sole competitor from this class last year, did an excellent job in her debut as an Iowa gymnast. Brandi likes to compete and the coaches feel that with a year behind her she will raise her competitive edge a bit and really push her consistency this season. The assumption at this point is that both Kara and Jen will be contributors in the all-around this year. Iowa will rely heavily on them to create the stability that is key in division one athletics.

The freshmen will have huge shoes to fill this season in that they are replacing last season’s senior class and two great competitors for Iowa. Katie Turcotte and Nikki Page will be expected to be competing in the all-around, but will be key competitors for Iowa on vault, beam, and floor. Both ladies have shown incredible difficulty in practice and a strong desire to be on the competitive floor.

In addition to Turcotte and Page, Iowa gained two walk-ons in the off season, Rachel LaCasse and Jenny Donar.

“Rachel has beautiful lines and should contribute on beam and floor. Jenny, whom we are extremely excited about, is truly raw talent, and has the potential to eventually compete for us on two or three events,” said Libby.

In looking at the roster and analyzing the team at this point, Libby still feels that the year will be a difficult one.

“I think that the potential is there for us to have a fantastic year. We have made some key changes to the program and we think the changes will help in the long run, but we are still very much lacking in depth,” said Libby. “It will certainly take a total team effort and we simply don’t have room for error.”

“We have big and lofty goals for this team. Given our current situation, some may say unrealistic but if you don’t aim high you will you never know where your true potential lies. Lofty goals or not, we have to focus on us as a team and the things we can control,” said Libby. “In the end, only those things will matter. We know we have a lot of work to do and the staff and team are prepared to put in the time and energy to make these dreams a reality.”