Jan. 21, 2012
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team fell short against sixth-ranked Illinois on Saturday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The No. 13 Hawkeyes were defeated by a final score of 352.300-326.200. Iowa had four top-three finishes.
The Hawkeyes improved their team score by nearly ten points since their last competition one week ago. Iowa was competing in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time in almost two seasons after renovations forced Iowa to compete inside the Field House last year.
“We took a big step forward,” said head coach JD Reive. “The fact that we battled back, got a little momentum going, and had them hit some consecutive routines – that’s important for us heading into next week.”
“It was awesome to be in Carver. This is a national championship venue, and this was just a dual meet. It’s fun to compete in here and that gave us a lot of energy.”
The Hawkeyes got a great performance out of junior Javier Balboa, who came within 2.25 points of tying the school record for highest all-around score. After finishing outside the top-six in his first three events, Balboa strung three consecutive top-three finishes together to close out the dual and finish fourth on all-around (84.200).
Balboa finished in third place on parallel bars (14.800) and high bar (14.000) and tied for third on vault (14.600). Balboa’s parallel and high bar mark set a new team season high score.
“I did much better this time. I can’t say I’m satisfied because there is still a lot of work to do, but this was better,” said Balboa. “Still, the most important thing to me is the team, and we were a little better, but still need to work harder.”
Senior Zach Cazabon led the Hawkeyes on pommel horse with a third place finish, scoring a 13.800 on the event. The score was a personal best for the Brentwood, Mo., native. Freshman Mitchell Landau placed tied for sixth (13.200).
Junior Matt McGrath placed tied for fifth on rings to pace Iowa. The reigning All-American scored a 14.500 on the event. McGrath competed on rings and parallel bars, but was unable to compete on floor and vault – his two best events – due to a knee injury. Iowa was without their leader on rings as well as junior Anton Gryshayev was injured on floor exercise and did not return.
Junior Broderick Shemansky (14.100) and Landau (14.000) paced the Hawkeyes on vault with a sixth and seventh place finish to compliment Balboa’s top-three score. Landau also placed tied for fourth on parallel bars (14.300), while McGrath finished tied for sixth place (14.200). Landau placed tied for seventh on high bar (13.600).
“We just need to keep working as hard as we can every day in the gym,” said Reive. “We have to start cleaning things up and refining, and they need to start going out there with some confidence.”
Iowa will head back to Chicago to face the University of Illinois-Chicago on Jan. 28 inside the UIC Physical Education Building. Start time is 5 p.m. (CT). The two teams met at the Windy City Invitational last week with UIC edging Iowa by just over ten points.