Feb. 24, 2016
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 18th-ranked University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team travels to Denver, Colorado, for a quad meet against Denver, Southeast Missouri and Illinois-Chicago on Saturday, Feb. 27.
The meet gives the Hawkeyes a rematch with the Denver. On Jan. 18, the Hawkeyes fell to the Pioneers, 195.900-194.725, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Since the loss, Iowa has gone undefeated.
“When we first competed against Denver, we hadn’t found a consistent pace yet,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “Since then, we have had enough meets under our belt to get them comfortable with the idea of competition. Instead of it being challenging, it is now something they thrive on.”
Iowa’s winning streak has included three upset wins over No. 25 Ohio State, No. 14 Nebraska, and No. 21 Illinois.
“I think we are a very different team now because we are more confident and consistent,” said Libby. “I think we have found a group of kids that are dialed in and understand what is at stake; the big picture is formulating and coming together. They know what needs to be done every second of every day in order to be successful in the end.”
Another aspect of Iowa’s success is the depth of the team. While the GymHawks have found consistency in their lineups, the Hawkeye reserves are vital to the longevity of success.
“We have some kids that are tired,” said Libby. “To be honest, our focus has shifted to numbers seven, eight, and nine in the lineup. Right now, those are the most important people that we have to have ready for competition. When you get to this point in the season, you run into situations where people get sick, people get tired, ankles get dinged.
“If you can’t replace someone that is one through six in the lineup with someone that is seven, eight, or nine, you’re in trouble. We are trying to get those kids to be as competitive, if not more competitive, as those first six people in the lineup.”
The GymHawks enter into this weekend’s contest with a No. 18 national ranking and all the pressure that accompanies it.
“The pressure is building for this team,” said Libby. “When you start to make a name for yourself, you have more pressure on you. They have done a good job not paying attention to it to this point and focusing on establishing themselves as contenders. We have tried to stray their thinking away from being the best and instead being their best. The most important goal for this weekend is to go back to who we are as a team.”
Saturday’s meet is set to begin at 7 p.m. (CT) inside Hamilton Gymnasium. Fans can follow the action on Periscope and Twitter (@IowaGymnastics).