March 19, 2016
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LINCOLN, Neb. — The 18th-ranked University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team posted a 195.875 to lead the morning session and tie for fifth place overall at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday.
“I am definitely disappointed,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “I am proud of our girls. I think they competed their hearts out and their gymnastics were just as good. We made some mistakes but it was difficult to sit in the stands and watch the evening session.”
In addition to Iowa’s top team performance, three GymHawks received individual conference awards. Juniors Mollie Drenth and Angel Metcalf were all named to the All-Championship Team for the second consecutive year, while sophomore Melissa Zurawski collected the Sportsmanship Award.
“I could not be more proud of Angel and Mollie,” said Libby. “It is very difficult to be named to the All-Championship team, especially coming out of the morning session.”
Five conference teams enter the Big Ten Championships ranked in the Road to Nationals Top 25 poll. Michigan paced the conference at No. 7, followed by No. 12 Nebraska, No. 16 Minnesota, No. 18 Iowa and No. 25 Illinois.
Despite the tough competition, six GymHawks tallied a total of nine top 20 finishes. Metcalf led the way for the GymHawks, finishing ninth in the all-around (39.225), 12th on beam (9.825), and 20th on bars (9.825). Drenth earned second place for her effort on vault (9.925) and tied her teammate for 20th on bars (9.825).
The GymHawks started the day on the bars, registering a 48.875. Drenth and Metcalf paced the Hawkeyes, each earning a 9.825. Senior Johanny Sotillo and sophomore Melissa Zurawski posted scores of 9.775 and 9.750 for 32nd and 37th place, respectively.
Iowa moved to beam where they tallied a 48.700 team score. Metcalf led the GymHawks on beam, earning a 9.825. Sotillo had the second best finish for the Hawkeyes, posting a 9.800.
Team totals were 146.700 (Iowa), 146.350 (Illinois), 146.000 (Rutgers), and 144.125 (Maryland) heading into the final rotation of the morning session.
The GymHawks closed the day on vault with a score of 49.175, giving them a final score of 195.875. Drenth paced the Hawkeyes once again, earning a near-perfect 9.925. Freshman Misty-Jade Carlson followed closely behind her teammate, posting a career-high 9.850 in the event.
“Our freshman Misty-Jade has been consistent in our vault lineup for a few weeks and I was very happy to see her on the podium,” said Libby. “It was great to see her rewarded for the effort she has put in.”
Michigan captured the Big Ten title with a score of 197.125. Nebraska finished runner-up (196.900), followed by Minnesota (196.575), Penn State (196.150), Iowa (195.875), Ohio State (195.875), Michigan State (195.475), Illinois (195.175), Rutgers (194.775), and Maryland (194.025). Minnesota’s Lindsay Mable won the all-around title with 39.650.
The GymHawks will find out if they have done enough to qualify for NCAA Regional competition on Monday afternoon. The selection show begins at 3 p.m. (CT) on NCAA.com.
The championship provides for a field of 36 teams determined based on their regional qualifying score and seeded by the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee. Included in the championship field are also 24 all-around competitors and 48 individual event specialists (all of whom are not on a qualifying team).