March 12, 2016
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — As the University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team enters the back half of the season, the team has set its sights on making its eighth NCAA Regional berth in the last nine seasons. With postseason experience with the GymHawks and as an individual competitor, junior Angel Metcalf provides a wealth of postseason experience for the team to look to for motivation.
Metcalf was one of six Hawkeyes selected for competition at the 2014 NCAA Regionals in Minneapolis. The Swansboro, North Carolina, native competed in the all-around, posting a 38.125 overall score and falling just short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
In 2015, Metcalf returned to the NCAA Auburn Regional with her team by her side. The junior led the GymHawks in the all-around, posting a score of 39.175 to finish fifth overall. Metcalf also paced the team on bars, placing 12th with a score of 9.800.
This year, Iowa and Carver-Hawkeye Arena will host 2016 NCAA Regional competition, beginning April 2 at 4 p.m. (CT). Click HERE to purchase tickets. The Hawkeyes last hosted an NCAA Regional in 2009.
Metcalf recently sat down with hawkeyesports.com to reflect on her regional experiences and her goals for the remainder of the season.
Q: What was it like competing as an individual at the NCAA Regional in 2014?
A: “It was my freshman year, so overall it was exciting. It was completely different. It had a little bit of a club feel when I went by myself. I was on my own and it was completely different than what I had been doing all year long. A few individuals from my team were with me, but you are all split up and competing on your own. The other teams that I rotated with made me feel welcome.
“It is different than competing with your team. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t want to go without my team again. But to have that experience and make it there as an individual was a big personal accomplishment. Now the focus is on getting my team there.”
Q: What did you learn from your experience as an individual that benefitted the team?
A: “We talked about it afterwards. We wanted to make it a goal for our team to make it together the next year. It was very helpful to get that extra opportunity to compete. I was obviously hoping to make it to nationals, but I came up short. I benefited from the extra experience and gained some confidence from it; because I did make it as an individual.”
Q: After your individual experience, what was it like to share regionals with your team the following year?
A: “Last year was incredible. I had never been to Auburn before, so that was a fun experience in itself. I think we were in a great place last year. We had hiccups at Regionals and while that wasn’t what we wanted, we ended in a great place. It was a special environment. When I went to compete it felt like my sisters were right there and had my back.”
Q: How have the upperclassmen used their postseason experience to motivate the team?
A: “We have been preparing them all year. They have competed with us for 11 meets so far this season and the postseason is very similar. I think they will get a taste of what Regionals is like when we travel and compete at Penn State for the Big Five meet and when we travel to Nebraska for Big Ten Championships. It is always a little different. We are just trying to get them used to the noise and the pace. I think the rest of our season, the way it builds, will help them adjust to that. I think they will be very prepared.”
Q: What is your mental strategy for the postseason?
A: “There won’t be a huge mental change from regular season to postseason. We are still going to be implementing the same lessons as we would during the regular season. We like to center our focus on ourselves and work to get one 10th better to better the team. We will be focusing on going green. At the end of the day, we are competing against ourselves. We are in a bubble and we are the only ones in the arena. We have our mission, not our goal.”
Q: What would it mean to you to compete at regionals in front of the Hawkeye faithful inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena?
A: “It would be so amazing. There will be six teams in there plus individuals, so that will be an incredible environment. There is nothing better than walking onto our floor and seeing all of the black and gold in the stands. It will be incredible to hear that arena roar when you perform. It will be different than any other Regionals experience because it is home.”
The GymHawks continue their push to the postseason this afternoon when they take on Penn State, Michigan, Rutgers, and Minnesota in the Big Five Meet inside Rec Hall. The meet is set for 12 p.m. (CT) and will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network.