Cy-Hawk Showdown Set for Friday

March 6, 2013

Complete Release

The GymHawks return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to host Iowa State on Friday. The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup is slated to start at 7 p.m. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to support breast cancer awareness. The competition, which concludes Iowa’s homestand, is also Senior Night. The seniors will be honored following the conclusion of the dual.

Mediacom Channel 22 will broadcast the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series live on Friday at 7 p.m. (CT). Former GymHawk, Jessa Hansen, will call the action.

The GymHawks can clinch the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series for Iowa with a victory on Friday. Iowa currently leads Iowa State, 12-9, with Friday’s meet and softball (May 1) left to be played. The Cy-Hawk Series is in its ninth season and is sponsored by Iowa Corn for the second time. The 12-event series awards two points (except football, which is worth three) to the winning school in each head-to-head match-up. Additionally, one point is given to the institution if its student-athlete graduation rate is greater than the national average.

The Hawkeyes’ annual Pink Meet will help raise awareness for breast cancer research. Survivors will be honored, and the crowd is encouraged to join the Gymhawks and wear pink for the cause. The Pink Meet especially resonates with the GymHawk family. Former Iowa assistant coach (2006-09), Talya Vexler, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. At the time, Vexler was a 23 year-old student at the University of Georgia. Vexler just completed her gymnastics career and was looking forward to graduation. Now, Vexler is a survivor and currently coaches her family’s gymnastics club in Amherst, Mass. Vexler’s story has been an inspiration to many, and now collegiate gymnastics programs all over the country dedicate one meet per year to raise breast cancer awareness. On Friday, the first 200 fans will receive free pink t-shirts, and the first 250 fans will get free pink bracelets.

Friday’s competition concludes the 2013 homestand and will honor seniors Emma Stevenson, Kaitlynn Urano and Maya Wickus. Stevenson has been one of the GymHawks’ most consistent gymnasts since her freshman year. This season, Stevenson leads the team on bars (9.825 RQS) and floor (9.855 RQS) and has hit 100 percent of her routines (16 of 16). Urano, a mainstay in the bars, beam and floor lineup, is having a breakout year. Urano is the Hawkeyes’ top beam scorer (9.765 RQS), earning a career-best 9.800 on the beam against Penn State (1/19) and Michigan (1/26). Wickus, a powerful vaulter, added the uneven bars to her repertoire. Wickus won the bars title in the season opener vs. Ball State with a career-best 9.825. In the Big Ten, Wickus ranks 25th on both the vault (9.790 RQS) and bars (9.755 RQS).

The rivals split two meetings a year ago. The Hawkeyes claimed the last meeting in Iowa City, 194.150-192.750, on Feb. 17, 2012. Iowa State was victorious in Ames, 194.900-194.550, on Jan. 27, 2012. The two teams have split their regular-season competitions the past three seasons. Iowa State leads the all-time series against Iowa, 51-28.

Iowa traveled to Lincoln, Neb. to take on the 10th-ranked Huskers. Despite individual season-bests from Hawkeye seniors, Iowa could not overcome the defending Big Ten champions. Nebraska topped Iowa, 197.675-194.950. Freshman Alie Glover finished third in the all-around (38.925), while Nebraska sophomore Jessie DeZiel and junior Emily Wong tied for the title (39.675). Seniors Emma Stevenson and Kaitlynn Urano earned season-highs on the bars. Stevenson led the way with 9.875, while Urano posted 9.825. Senior Maya Wickus matched her season-best on vault, pacing Iowa with 9.850. Urano scored a season-high 9.800 on the floor for the third time and led the Hawkeyes in the beam rotation (9.725). Sophomore Caitlin Tanzer anchored in the beam lineup for the second time in her career, earning 9.675.

Iowa State (4-6, 0-2) is coming off a season-best performance against Minnesota, defeating the 12th-ranked Gophers, 195.550-195.025. The Cyclones concluded their homestand 4-1 in Hilton Coliseum. The upset over Minnesota marked the first time Iowa State downed a top-12 ranked team since defeating No. 3 Florida and No. 11 Arizona State in 2006. The Cyclones tallied season bests on vault (48.700), bars (48.925), beam (48.875) and floor (49.050). Junior Camille Santerr-Gervais won the bars title with a 9.850. Senior Elizabeth Stranahan tied for second in the all-around (38.900), posting the second-highest all-around score of her career. Iowa State is led by head coach Jay Ronayne. Ronayne is in his seventh season and is assisted by coaches Kristen Maloney and Katie Minasola.

The Hawkeyes are ranked seventh in the conference (195.265 RQS). Individually, senior Emma Stevenson is tied for 10th on bars (9.825 RQS), with Illinois senior Alina Weinstein and Penn State freshman Samantha Musto. In the Big Ten all-around, freshman Alie Glover ranks 11th (38.805 RQS).

Six of the eight Big Ten teams (No. 3 Michigan, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 14 Minnesota, No. 15 Penn State, No. 18 Ohio State and No. 19 Illinois) are nationally-ranked in the GymInfo Top 25. Michigan leads the conference on all events: vault (49.315 RQS), bars (49.300 RQS), beam (49.185 RQS) and floor (49.400 RQS).

The Hawkeyes did not compete last week, so they had no opportunity to improve their Regional Qualifying Score before the Monday morning rankings. As a result, Iowa fell out of the top-25 GymInfo rankings, but is still nationally-ranked on the bars (No. 22) and floor (No. 21). Senior Emma Stevenson is ranked 53rd on the bars (9.825 RQS) and 48th on floor (9.855 RQS). Freshman Kyra Trowbridge is 52nd on floor, while freshman Alie Glover is 49th in the all-around.

Sophomore Jessica Morreale, a key performer on beam and vault, will be out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus. Morreale won the beam title vs. Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago with a career-best 9.875.

The majority of GymHawks are underclassmen, with six freshmen, four sophomores, three seniors and no juniors. Seventeen of Iowa’s 24 routines are contributed by underclassmen. Freshman Alie Glover is the only Hawkeye to compete on four events in every competition. She is ranked 49th nationally in the all-around. Glover was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Feb. 11 for her outstanding performance in the tri-meet against Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 8. Glover captured the all-around title with a career-high 39.050, leading the Hawkeyes to a first-place finish and season-best performance (195.875).

The rankings switched over from the scoring average to Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) on Monday, Feb 25. The RQS is calculated by taking the team’s top six scores, three of which must be from road meets. The highest score is dropped, and the remaining five are averaged. In the Big Ten, the top four teams with the highest RQS scores will compete in the evening session (6 p.m.) of the Big Ten Championships, while the bottom four will compete in the afternoon session (12 p.m.). Nationally, teams with the top-18 Regional Qualifying Scores will be seeded for the NCAA Regional Championships.

The next gymnastics competition scheduled to be shown on the Big Ten Network is the Big Ten Championships (Mar. 23). The Hawkeyes appeared on BTN on Feb. 23, in their dual meet vs. Minnesota. Iowa won, 195.725-195.550.

The Hawkeyes have increased their team score dramatically since scoring a 193.375 in the home opener against Ball State (1/11). Iowa tallied a 194.200 at Ohio State (1/19), before finding the 195 range at Penn State (1/26) with a 195.325, and at Michigan (2/2) with a 195.200. The Hawkeyes earned their season-best (195.875) against Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago (2/8). Iowa matched its season-best (195.875) against Illinois (2/16) and downed undefeated Minnesota, upsetting the 12th-ranked Gophers, 195.725-195.550 (2/22). Despite the 197.675-194.950 loss at Nebraska (3/4), Iowa’s 194.950 result will allow the Hawkeyes to drop their 194.200 at Ohio State and increase their Regional Qualifying Score.

HEAD COACH Larissa Libby
Entering her ninth year as head coach of the Hawkeyes, Libby has her eyes set on a sixth-consecutive NCAA postseason appearance, the seventh in her tenure. In 2012, the Hawkeyes finished the season ranked 26th nationally, the highest finish since 2004. Libby coached Emma Stevenson to the Big Ten All-Championship Team. The Hawkeyes hosted the Big Ten Championships, drawing a season-high attendance figure of 1,661. Stevenson scored a 9.875 on the floor exercise, and Iowa finished seventh as a team. Libby led the Hawkeyes to a fifth-consecutive NCAA postseason appearance. Iowa posted 194.600 and finished fifth at the Seattle Regional.

The GymHawks will travel to Cedar City, Utah to take on Southern Utah, San Jose State and Ball State on Friday, March 15. Action is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (CT) in Centum Arena.

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