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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. –The University of Iowa men’s gymnastics fell short in its first Big Ten competition, as third-ranked Illinois stayed perfect on the season. The Fighting Illini held off the No. 9 Hawkeyes 354.900-339.400 inside Huff Hall Saturday, handing Iowa a loss in its Big Ten opener after heading into the meet with momentum after the first win of the year against Illinois-Chicago.
The Hawkeyes’ team score was just off pace from their Illinois-Chicago victory, where Iowa racked up 342.100 points, meanwhile Illinois finished with their second-highest team score of the season. Anton Gryshayev led the Hawkeyes, breaking the school record on rings in back-to-back weeks. Gryshayev scored a 14.900 against Illinois-Chicago to top Reid Urbain’s 2009 record mark. Gryshayev topped himself this time, scoring a 15.100 to place second on the event and grab the school’s top two finishes on the event.
“It went a little rough, but we still put up a decent team score,” said head coach JD Reive. “It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, and we see a chance to take some steps forward from this and really work on our consistency.”
Sophomore Matt McGrath led Iowa on floor exercise, scoring a career-best and team season-high score of 14.800 to place in a tie for third. John Haines (13.900), Lance Alberhasky (13.800), and Todd Becker (13.700) also paced Iowa.
Illinois took the advantage on pommel horse, as senior Mike Jiang was the only Hawkeyes to place in the top-five on the event. Jiang scored a 14.000 to place fifth.
Gryshayev’s record mark helped the Hawkeyes come away with a team score of 57.600 on rings, with junior Javier Balboa (14.400) and McGrath (14.300) placing fifth and sixth.
Iowa scored a 62.900 on vault as a team, marking one of two events where the Black and Gold stayed even with Illinois, who also scored a 62.900. Senior Ben Ketelsen and McGrath turned in strong runs on vault, scoring a 15.900 to tie for first place on the event with Illinois’ Yoshi Mori. The 15.900 from Ketelsen and McGrath set a team season-high.
“McGrath had a great vault for us. That is the one that I’m really happy about,” said Reive. “He put up a good score on floor too, so we got a good performance out of him.”
Jiang earned another top-five finish for Iowa on parallel bars, scoring a 14.300 to place fourth. McClay (13.900), Alberhasky (13.800), and Balboa (13.700) finished fifth, sixth, and seventh to help Iowa earn a 55.700 team score on the event.
The Fighting Illini held a strong advantage on horizontal bar, holding Iowa out of the top four places. Freshman Sam Wright placed fifth with a 13.600 to lead Iowa on the event. McClay also scored a 13.100 to finish sixth.
“A few of the events we feel like we are a strong team on didn’t go as well as we would have liked today,” said Reive. “Our high bar score came up short, pommel horse score came up short, and we left ourselves with room for improvement the next time out.”
Balboa was the only Hawkeye to compete as an all-arounder, placing third with a 79.800 score. The score set a team season-high mark as well.
Iowa will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 2011 Winter Cup in their next action of the season. The meet will run Feb. 3-5.