Jan. 19, 2012
Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By BRADY JOHNSON
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Heading into his second season with the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics program, head coach JD Reive found the second go-around to be much different than the first — he actually had the time to sit back and make goals.
After sending six gymnasts to the NCAA Championships and breaking nine team records last season in his first year at the helm of the program, Reive didn’t use that additional time this season to make small goals by any means: the Hawkeyes are ready to raise the bar this season.
“This year we definitely set goals. Every kid has something they want to do individually, and as a team we have this goal of being a top-three Big Ten team,” said Reive. “This conference is incredibly challenging, but if we can weasel ourselves in there, I think we can have a phenomenal season. And the good thing about that is, it’s all possible.”
In a conference with seven teams ranked in the top 10, few may be looking for a conference contender in Iowa City. But, that’s exactly the goal for three Hawkeye coaches and 19 gymnasts. Iowa — who entered the season ranked 10th — will rub elbows with No. 2 Illinois, No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 Penn State, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 8 Minnesota and No. 9 Nebraska this season.
“This year we definitely set goals. Every kid has something they want to do individually, and as a team we have this goal of being a top-three Big Ten team. This conference is incredibly challenging, but if we can weasel ourselves in there, I think we can have a phenomenal season. And the good thing about that is, it’s all possible.”
UI head coach JD Reive
With one transition year under the belt, the Hawkeyes are up to the challenge of raising their status in the conference and nation.
“We have some depth issues and some injury issues, but you hold the bar up high and that’s where you want to be, and you don’t settle for less,” said Reive. “We expect a lot from ourselves, which is great for the program.”
Gone from Iowa’s roster is last year’s senior class of Mike Jiang, Ben Ketelsen and John Haines; a trio that combined to score significant points out of the team score. Reive will look to counter those losses with a talented freshman class and a crop of proven juniors in the lineup.
“Those guys (juniors) are a huge part of our scoring,” said Reive. “They’ve also been here and made the transition, so they can take the younger guys under their wings and help them out. That leadership part is equally as important to our team as their scoring.”
With the team going through the second year of his training regimen, Reive is eyeing major improvements to the team as well as looking into the potential of the program down the road.
“These guys have made huge improvements from where they were when I came in a year and a half ago to where they are now,” said Reive. “They are all excited to go out and see where they exist within the Big Ten, and there are a lot of promising things for us going forward.”
The Hawkeyes kicked off the season on Jan. 14 at the Windy City Invitational with a team score of 316.800. Iowa had three top-five individual performances — Devin Clarke on vault, Balboa on parallel bars and Gryshayev on rings — but the solid routines were too far and between for Reive as Iowa finished sixth.
“We had some competition anxiety, but we are going to work through that,” said Reive. “There is a different mentality now with different expectations. We’ve raised the bar. Our guys will have to get used to that.”
There will be one more difference for Reive this year from last year as well: the Hawkeyes will be competing in Carver Hawkeye-Arena rather than the UI Field House. Iowa will host its first meet on Jan. 21 as Big Ten frontrunner Illinois comes to town for a 5 p.m. competition.