Nov. 9, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When JD Reive first accepted the head coaching job for the Iowa men’s gymnastics team, his first two tasks were as arduous as they were ambitious. Reive hoped to change the culture and the expectations of a program that had fallen on hard times. After two years of tireless work, the Hawkeyes are on the verge of meeting those two goals.
Iowa enters the 2012-13 season with a sense of excitement stemming from a talented lineup, a new mentality and goals that are higher than any other team has set during Reive’s tenure.
“This is the transition that we have been waiting for,” said Reive. “We’ve been waiting for a group of kids who are ready to change Iowa gymnastics, put us back on the map and to be on top of the podium. This is a team that realizes that, and is ready to go out and do it. We’re all very excited about the expectations this season.”
In his first two years with the team, Reive implemented a new training regimen and a new vision for Iowa gymnastics. The process was challenging for both the gymnasts and coaches, but all the progress is close to paying off.
Iowa enters the season with 13 returning letterwinners, and the emergence of a deep and talented freshman class. The blend of the team consists of gymnasts with different experience levels and specialties, but the same goals.
“The goals that the team set this year are the exact same as mine, which is phenomenal,” said Reive. “They want to be a top-three Big Ten team and a team that advances to the team finals of the NCAA Championships. It’s something that they need to work very hard to achieve, but it’s doable and they really want it.”
The Hawkeyes will be led by a senior class in which Reive sees a number of potential All-Americans, including Javier Balboa, Anton Gryshayev, Matt McGrath and Brody Shemansky. Shemansky returns from a first team All-Big Ten campaign last year, while McGrath was an All-American on vault in 2010 and could reach the same accolades on vault and floor exercise this year. Balboa is an all-arounder that can contend in multiple events, and Gryshayev is the top-performer Iowa has arguably ever had on rings.
“The upperclassmen have made great strides from last season to now in terms of work ethic, commitment and discipline to their training,” said Reive. “It’s nice for me to look across the board as they keep improving and say, `wow, these guys are going to put up some big scores.'”
While Iowa relied heavily on its proven upperclassmen in past years and needed high scores from them to be successful, this year’s upperclassmen are being pushed by the newcomers. The Hawkeyes have 12 underclassmen, seven of which are freshmen, that have added depth to the lineup.
“We have a big group of younger guys that are holding their weight and doing a lot of good things for us,” said Reive. “They’ve added depth to the team, and right now, they are a big driving force in the gym.”
While continuing to push the bar higher and higher, Iowa is eager to perform in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this upcoming season. The Hawkeyes hope the fans will be, too.
“Get out to the meets and watch the boys this year,” said Reive. “We can’t wait to be in Carver and get people out to support these guys, because it’s coming – we’re going to be very good soon.”
The Hawkeyes will start the season with the Black and Gold Intrasquad on Dec. 2nd with both the men’s and women’s teams competing. Start time is set for 2 p.m. inside the UI Filed House.