The Next Rung

Oct. 31, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Coming off its most successful season of the decade, the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics program is poised to achieve an even higher level of success. The Hawkeyes are using their 2013 fifth place NCAA Championship finish and summer competition experience to take their success to new heights in 2014.

“It was a lot of hard work finally coming to fruition, and they got a tangible result out of it,” said UI head coach JD Reive. “They know if they get on board and do what they’re supposed to do, this is what happens.

“We took the momentum from the end of last season and took it into the summer. Guys stayed, went to school, and trained. We entered into this season and the freshmen came on board faster than I’ve experienced in quite some time.

“Everybody here right now is working very well, so we’re in a great place. A lot of it is because of how we finished. They saw what they were able to accomplish and they are starting to see that at the end of last season. Now we’re pushing on to the next level off that.”

Over the summer, several members of the team represented Iowa competing on a national and international stage. Junior Brandon Field and freshman Cory Paterson joined now-graduate Javier Balboa in competition at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.

Five additional Hawkeyes, junior Lance Alberhasky, sophomore Jack Boyle, sophomore Matt Loochtan, senior Matt McGrath, and freshman Andrew Botto, had the opportunity to try out for a spot to compete at the P&G Championships. These student-athletes competed in a field of 71 for positions on the 14-man squad. Loochtan, McGrath, and Botto made the cut and competed at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., on Aug. 15-18.

“It’s a big deal for us to be at those because it allows them to continue to train and see outside of the NCAA bubble,” said Reive. “We are an international sport. We are an Olympic sport. That is still what defines us.

“The NCAA is one the most exciting gymnastics competitions you can participate with, but in the bigger picture of it, these guys grew up with this idea of competing for their country and getting to experience some of that. Whether they’re competing or their teammates are competing, it’s a big push and motivation for the program.”

The team’s depth is something that excites Reive and the coaching staff. The amount of talent and potential the group possesses can lead to an exciting result for the squad this season.

“They have a ton of potential,” Reive said. “It has been 11 years now that I’ve coached NCAA teams and this is one of the best fall semesters that I have had as a group. I try not to get super excited with them to keep them focused on their business, but they’re good.

“We have a phenomenal amount of depth, and we have good kids. They’re committed to what we do, and overall this can be a fantastic team. They can accomplish something that they still don’t even comprehend. I don’t think the rest of the country even has a concept of how good we’re going to be.”

Iowa gymnastics fans can catch their first glimpse of the Hawkeyes at the annual Black and Gold Intersquad. The event, which also features the Iowa women’s gymnastics team, is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 8, at noon in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“It’s exciting to watch,” said Reive. “You can sit back and appreciate the movement and what we’re doing in competition. We epitomize the student-athlete concept with how much we train, and we’re excited to show what we can do to Hawkeye fans.”