March 31, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Head Coach Larissa Libby and the University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team enter the 2011 NCAA Regionals in a different position than years past. The GymHawks find themselves squarely on the radar instead of flying underneath it.
Thirty-six teams are selected for NCAA Regional competition, with six teams in six different regions. The NCAA seeds the top 18 teams in the country, placing three seeded teams in each region. Iowa was awarded a No. 3 seed, and will compete in the Corvallis Regional Saturday.
Host-school Oregon State is the No. 1 seed in the region, followed by second-seeded Nebraska. Southern Utah, San Jose State and Michigan State will also compete in Corvallis.
This season marks just the fourth time in school history that Iowa has earned a national seeding for NCAA Regionals. Libby has led the GymHawks to five NCAA Regional appearances in her seven seasons, including each of the last four seasons, but this is the first time since 2003 Iowa has been seeded.
“We were very excited to be seeded,” Libby said. “Being a national seed shows the growth of our program. We jumped 16 spots in the coaches poll this season, and the national seed is a reward for our hard work.”
Libby said the GymHawks have embraced the national recognition.
“We want that mindset,” Libby said. “We have been flying under the radar and that’s not what we want. We want to be seen as a threat, not as the underdog. The expectation needs to be that we win every time we go out.”
Winning at NCAA Regionals would mean finishing as one of the top two teams in the competition. That would earn the GymHawks a team berth at the NCAA Championships, a feat only accomplished twice in program history (2003 and 2004).
“Our mission is to advance, as a team, to the NCAA Championships,” Libby said. “We are holding ourselves as one of the best in the region. We believe this is an attainable goal.”
Libby believes her team is physically ready to show they are one of the top teams in the nation. Now the approach turns to the mental side.
“We need to have a common belief that we are capable,” Libby said. “We deserve to be there. Gymnastics is about being perfect. There are tough teams in our region, but we control our own destiny. All we need to worry about is our performance. We need to take it one routine at a time.”
With an approach like that, Libby and her GymHawks will be a permanent dot on the NCAA gymnastics radar for years to come.