Jan. 14, 2016
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By MEGAN ROWLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team gears up for two meets in four days. The GymHawks hit the road for a Big Ten Conference matchup at Michigan State on Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. (CT) inside the Jenison Field House, before returning home to host Denver on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It is definitely a little different, but it is a good time,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “It is early in the season and we aren’t too broken down to handle the quick turn around. It is all about how you present it. Your team is going to be receptive to however you as the coach present the situation.
“If you present it that they are fine and it is not that big of a deal, it wont be that big of a deal. We have told them it is actually something they do everyday. They compete, they have a day off and then they are back up in training. We have intrasquads during the week so it is about the same type of thing, except now we are in real competition gear. It really is a good time. I like the way it is set up because it gives us time to get home and to relax. The second meet is at home. I think it would be harder if it was reverse.”
With two meets in the books, the GymHawks have had time to reflect on their opponents and what they have learned from them thus far.
“They have learned that it is not enough to be intimidating, you have to be able to finish,” said Libby. “If you are trying to intimidate, to be successful you have to back it up with the gymnastics. We are better when we stay true to who we are as a team.”
While some teams take a more intimidating approach to competition, the Hawkeyes find success by staying true to their long-standing dynamic.
“We are not that team,” said Libby. “We never have been and we never will be. Everyone has always commented on the character and integrity of our team. We are more comfortable being ourselves. We like sticking to our own systematic process and not worrying about what everyone else is doing; owning the environment. While we acknowledging that the opponent was in the building, we try to not really pay attention to who the team is.
“There are always things you can learn about yourself from the opponent, but you don’t have to pay attention to them to know those things. They figured out who they need to be who they are accustomed to being, not change anything because the word competition is thrown in. I don’t want them to focus on the name of the team that is coming in. It doesn’t matter who is in the building, it matters what you accomplish.”
For the GymHawks, success is in the details.
“Our main focus for these meets is the details,” said Libby. “Things like handstands on bars, on vault it’s landings, on beam it’s being sharp and on floor it is the total package. They are little tiny things that we can easily fix. We talked about it after our last meet. While it should have been a disappointment that we had fallen, it wasn’t because so many other things went right.
“When we were in Cancun something was just off; it felt wrong. Yes, we made mistakes. I would rather have three falls with little mistakes here and there and score a 194.500 than have a hit and be at 194.500 with no room to get better. They are things that we can fix. One of our goals is to have the team go out with full intensity without worrying about falls rather than dialing it back to prevent falls. It’s not worth it. We want them to train like they compete.”
Monday’s meet against Denver is Student Day. The first 250 fans will receive a free Iowa Gymnastics drawstring bag. Beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, fans will be able to purchase hot dogs for only $1 during Hot Dog Happy Hour. Fans with an Iowa Men’s Basketball ticket from Jan. 17 will receive free admission to Monday’s meet. Please bring your ticket stub for admission. Kids Zone will be available for young Hawkeye fans prior to the meet.