No. 11 Iowa Scores Big at Big Tens

April 6, 2012

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IOWA CITY – The No. 11 University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team placed sixth at the 2012 Big Ten Championships in Iowa’s own Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night. The Hawkeyes scored a 342.800, just five and a half tenths from tying its season best, to edge out ninth-ranked Nebraska (340.700).

No. 4 Illinois won their fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship, posting a 352.950. No. 8 Michigan (351.850) finished runner-up and top-rated Penn State (350.000) finished third. C.J. Masteas of Illinois won the Big Ten all-around title with a score of 89.500.

The Hawkeyes advanced three gymnasts to the Big Ten event finals. Senior Zach Cazabon (pommel horse), junior Matt McGrath (vault) and junior Javier Balboa (parallel bars) each qualified for Iowa. The event finals will begin Saturday at 7 p.m. (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa set the school record for team score on parallel bars, scoring a 58.000 on the event. Broderick Shemansky placed sixth on all-around for the Hawkeyes. The junior scored a career best 85.150.

“I’m thrilled with our performance. We went out there and hit sets,” said second year head coach JD Reive. “There were a couple of things we could nitpick about, but this was one of our best meets of the year and we came out and performed well start to finish. We accomplished our goals tonight, and that’s the perfect setup heading into NCAA’s.”

Iowa started the event on parallel bars, and came out of the gates on fire with six solid scores. Iowa was led by Shemansky and Balboa, who each scored a 14.600 on the event to place tied for tenth. Balboa advanced to the event finals on account of his higher ranking on the event. Cazabon scored a 14.450 to place tied for 13th, and freshman Mitchell Landau scored a 14.350 to place 16th. Iowa’s score of 58.000 on the event tied for third best out of the seven teams in action.

The Hawkeyes then moved to high bar, where they would keep the momentum rolling. Balboa led Iowa on the event with a 14.400 to finish tied for 11th. Shemansky (14.250), Landau (14.200) and sophomore Angelo Bronzino (14.050) also provided counting scores for Iowa. Iowa scored a 56.900 on the event.

Freshman Brandon Field fueled Iowa on its third rotation, scoring a 14.350 on floor exercise to finish tied for 18th. Fellow freshman Devin Clarke also stepped up, scoring a 14.300 to place tied for 20th. Shemansky (14.250) and Bronzino (13.800) also paced the Hawkeyes. The Black and Gold scored a 56.700 on the event.

After a bye on the fourth rotation, the Hawkeyes moved to pommel horse where they were led by Cazabon. The Brentwood, Mo., native scored a career best 14.200 on the event to place seventh and advance to Saturday’s event finals. Junior Anton Gryshayev (13.850), Shemansky (13.500) and Landau (12.950) would also provide counting scores for the Hawkeyes. Iowa scored a 54.500 on pommel horse.

All five Hawkeye competitors on rings hung solid numbers on the scoreboard, as Iowa scored a 58.250 on the event led by Balboa’s 14.750. The routine put Balboa in 13th place. Gryshayev (14.650), Bronzino (14.400) and McGrath (14.400) also paced the Hawkeyes.

Iowa would conclude the meet on vault, as the team would finish strong thanks to a great vault from McGrath. McGrath scored a 15.100 to place tied for fourth and advance to the event finals. Balboa (14.550), Field (14.500) and Gryshayev (14.300) also had solid vaults for the Hawkeyes.

After coming within a point from tying its season high team score, Reive had nothing but positive things to say about his squad and about hosting the event.

“It’s great to be at home and showcase these guys, because nothing but good things are going to come out of this program within the next few years,” said Reive. “This staff does a phenomenal job hosting these events, and it was a lot of fun.”

While the team score was a quality number, the Hawkeyes had one standout individual performance from Shemansky. Shemansky provided Iowa with a counting score on all six events to score an 85.150 on all-around, which was the best score a Hawkeye gymnast has posted on all-around all season.

“It was a huge step up for Brody (Shemansky), because it was the first time he has got six good events under his belt,” said Reive. “He deserved to be up there on the all-around podium, and that’s where he belongs now.”

The top 10 gymnasts on each event will compete for the Big Ten event finals championships tomorrow at 7 p.m. (CT). Tomorrow’s action will also be televised live by Big Ten Network.