March 2, 2016
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 17th-ranked University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team travels to Ames, Iowa, for an Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series rivalry meet against Iowa State on Friday, March 4. The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series stands at 12-8 favoring the Hawkeyes with gymnastics and softball contests remaining.
“I think the rivalry is always difficult,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “There is a lot of hype behind it. A lot of the times it comes down to us making it or breaking it and that’s a lot of pressure.
“It is always tough to go to Iowa State and compete in their arena. They draw large crowds who are fanatical about the Cyclones. No matter where it is, I love being in that atmosphere. It is difficult, but it is always great preparation for Championship season.”
While the GymHawks enter this weekend’s contest with a No. 17 ranking, they are working twice as hard to put their best on the floor come competition time.
“We are just staying status quo,” said Libby. “We felt like we got back on track last week. We are really more focused on the big picture and each meet is a part of that big picture. Our ranking, while it is exciting for us, makes no difference. Essentially you go back to zero every time you compete so the ranking really has no bearing. Either you can do your gymnastics or you can’t, it’s that simple. In almost every sport, the best teams are beaten by teams with lower rankings, and we have always cautioned our team to never underestimate our opponent.”
After defeating Iowa State on home turf last year, the Hawkeyes are hungry for their first win in Ames since 2010.
“It is always difficult to beat a team in their home arena and it has definitely been a long time since we have beaten Iowa State in Ames. I certainly expect it to be a tough competition and the pressure of the rivalry will only add to that.” said Libby. “Regardless of the circumstances we will do our best to focus on the big picture and control the things we can control.”
With championship season on the horizon, the in-state rivalry fueled fandom will help to prepare the GymHawks for the Big Five meet, Big Ten Championships, and NCAA Regional competition in Iowa City.
“It is not your home venue, it is not what you are accustomed to, and it is great prep as we are heading into the back half of the season,” said Libby. “I think Iowa State always presents a challenge to us because there is pressure on both sides to put up points for our respective institutions and to claim those bragging rights of being the best in the State. Every time we are on the floor together, we bring out the best in each other and don’t anticipate this to be any different.”
“I expect it to be a very good competition. I expect it to be loud, obnoxious, and fun as it has been in the past. We are always excited, but certainly cautious in knowing that anything can happen.”
Friday’s meet is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. (CT) inside Hilton Coliseum. Fans can follow the action on Periscope and Twitter (@IowaGymnastics).