Iowa Opens Big Ten Play With No. 1 Illinois

Jan. 24, 2011

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THIS WEEK: The 10th-ranked University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team will travel to Champaign to take on No. 1 llinois at 1:00 p.m. The meet will be co-ed with the Iowa women’s team joining the men in action against the Fighting Illini.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENT: The Hawkeyes will begin Big Ten play with tough competition, taking on the top-ranked team in the nation. Iowa saw Illinois once already, where the Fighting Illini placed first at the Windy City Invitational. Illinois also placed first in a triangular with Nebraska and Minnesota.

LAST TIME OUT: JD Reive earned his first victory at Iowa and his first victory as a head coach last week, and saw a lot of improvement out of his Hawkeyes in the process. Iowa defeated Illinois-Chicago 342.00-329.300 inside the UI Field House. Sophomore Matt McGrath claimed first on floor exercise (14.500). Senior Ben Ketelsen placed first on pommel horse (14.600), and also tied for first on vault (15.600) with freshman teammate Javier Balboa. Sophomore Anton Gryshayev earned top honors on rings with a 14.900. Senior Mike Jiang won parallel bars (14.400), and tied for a first place finish on horizontal bar with freshman teammate Lance Alberhasky (14.100).

RECORD SETTER: Sophomore Anton Gryshayev set the school record on rings with a 14.900 against Illinois-Chicago. The previous holder was Reid Urbain, who scored a 14.800 in 2009. The open-ended scoring system has been in place since 2008.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK: The Hawkeyes improved in nearly every category possible their last time out against Illinois-Chicago. At the Windy City Invitational, Iowa held a five point advantage against the Flames. Last Saturday, Iowa improved their team score by 9.3 points and edged Illinois-Chicago by 12.700. Iowa also improved their team score on every single event.

A NEW ERA: The Hawkeyes will have a new man at the helm this season, as JD Reive was announced to fill the head coaching vacancy left by the retirement of Tom Dunn after his 30th season. Reive is the seventh men’s gymnastics coach in program history. Reive comes from Stanford, where he served as an assistant coach for seven seasons and helped the Cardinal reach four top-three finishes at the NCAA Championships. He was also honored as the Collegiate Gymnastics Association Assistant Coach of the Year on three occasions. Reive also coached the U.S. National Team at the 2009 Toyota Cup in Japan. Reive graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2000. Assisting Reive will be Dmitri Trouch and Brad Virkler.

Mr. ALL-AMERICAN: Iowa’s Mike Jiang walked away from the 2010 season with All-America honors, placing seventh at the NCAA Championships on pommel horse. Jiang scored a 14.550 and a 14.000 to place among the best in the nation. Jiang scored a 13.500 at the NCAA Qualifier to reach the NCAA Championships. Jiang will be back this season as one of three seniors on the roster.

HAWKEYE NEWCOMERS: There will be an abundance of youth this season for Iowa, with underclassmen out-numbering upperclassmen by a 12-5 margin. The Hawkeyes will also have six newcommers in the gym this season. Iowa City’s own Lance Alberhasky will compete for the Hawks after being named Iowa Gymnast of the Year. Angelo Bronzino of Aurora (IL), David Dyckman of Foster City (CA), Brandon Hill of Sparks (NV), and Samuel Wright of Lafayette (CO) round out the freshmen. Javier Balboa will also be in his first year at Iowa, transferring as a junior from Mexico’s Instituto Technologico y de Estudious Superiores.

2011 BIG TEN GYMNASTS TO WATCH: Iowa garnered some preseason recognition with the release of the 2011 Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list, which featured Iowa’s own Lance Alberhasky and Javier Balboa. Alberhasky won state titles in five events his senior year, and also placed third on high bar at the Junior Olympic Nationals on top of being a three-time academic All-American. Balboa will be in his first year at Iowa after transferring from Monterrey, Mexico. Balboa placed first on the parallel bars at the 2010 Mexico Nationals. Balboa also placed second in all-around at the 2010 Central American Trials. Balboa is a junior this season.

HEADING TO VEGAS: The Hawkeyes will travel to Las Vegas for the Winter Cup on Feb. 3rd.