Intrasquad Helps Hawkeyes Handle Pressure

Dec. 3, 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.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa men’s gymnastics coach JD Reive knows the difference between hitting a routine in training and hitting a routine in actual competition is substantial. Lucky for Reive and the Hawkeyes, the Black and Gold Intrasquad goes a long way toward bridging that gap.

Iowa got out in front of the judges and a packed crowd at the UI Field House on Sunday to get its first taste of the season of competing under pressure. For the Hawkeye gymnasts, it was a small taste of what the real thing will be like, but the experience from the event should help them down the road.

“This event is essentially for that — to help bridge the gap between what you can do in practice and what you can do in competition,” said Reive. “They can hit their routines in the gym, but you have to put them out in front of judges and a crowd because their brain will go a little haywire at some point. The goal is to expose them to that environment and learn how to adapt to it.”

Reive liked what he saw from his squad, who return 13 letterwinners from last year’s campaign. Led by senior Javier Balboa and junior Lance Alberhasky, the gold team defeated the black team 324.700 to 314.200. Balboa and Alberhasky combined to grab three event titles. Senior Anton Gryshayev and freshmen Doug Sullivan and Matthew Loochtan also earned event titles.

Sixteen gymnasts competed for the Hawkeyes, including six freshmen. The team had a few ups-and-downs, but put together two solid team scores considering how young the season is and that they didn’t throw out the lowest score in any event.

“I was very pleased with how today went,” said Reive. “It was close to mirroring what we want out of a typical practice, and it was good to get this experience under our belt. There are a number of positives we’re going to take away from it.”

In the grand scheme of things, the results from the intrasquad mattered little. Yet, the experience from the event and learning how to compete under pressure will matter a lot, especially when it counts the most — when the Hawkeyes are back on the big stage competing in front of the judges and a crowd.

“They can bring this back to practice with them and use their imaginations to help re-create the pressure in order to become better prepared for it down the road,” said Reive. “It’s very important to do that, because as a gymnast you can hit everything in practice and then go out in competition and not do half of that if the nerves get to you.”

The Hawkeyes will have a busy schedule of training coming up over winter break, a period where Reive hopes to get a lot accomplished. Iowa opens the season Jan. 19 at the Windy City Invitational.

“Coming up, we’ll have about four weeks over break with no school and a lot of really run, intense holiday training,” said Reive. “We get so much accomplished in that period, and it’s a very important phase. By the time our first meet comes, we’ll have another 40 or 50 more routines under our belt than what we saw tonight and will have that much more repetition.”