March 30, 2016
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — After spending the last four weeks of the regular season on the road, the 19th-ranked University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team’s homecoming could not come at a better time. The Hawkeyes and Carver-Hawkeye Arena host NCAA Regional competition on Saturday, April 2.
“We have been on the road for the past four weeks, and it has been a difficult final stretch for us,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “Coming home will nice. We can control how we eat, when we sleep, what we do, when we go to the arena, everything will be going back to normal.
“We are a better team when we are systematic. We have a systematic approach to everything that we do and when we break away from that, it makes it hard for us.”
While the GymHawks have done their best to recover from the normal wear and tear of the regular season, they are ready for a much needed boost of energy from the Hawkeye faithful.
“Right now we are a little tired but that’s where the hosting edge comes in,” said Libby. “It’s our home, our arena, our fans. Our crowd is what gets us up and running again. The fans at Iowa are unbelievable. To not have our crowd for four weeks was difficult. You never realize how much your fans impact your performance until you have to compete without them.”
The GymHawks host No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 30 Kent State, and No. 35 Central Michigan, as well as individuals from Ball State, Western Michigan, and Centenary in the Iowa City Regional. Despite the tough competition, the GymHawks continue to focus on their mission.
“We know who’s coming here, but we never focus on the other teams,” said senior Alie Glover. “We’re very much a team that likes to stay in our own bubble and focus on us. We go out on the floor, focus on warm ups, then we let warm-ups go and start over on every event that comes our way. That way it’s easier to deal with mistakes that may happen, stay focused, and remain on the same page.”
Though the GymHawks are not focusing on the other teams, they know better than to count them out.
“We have discussed that we shouldn’t ever discredit your opponent, but that goes both ways,” said Libby. “We have a lot of amazing teams coming in here. But a lot of them have not seen what we are capable of.”
With a spot to compete at the NCAA Championships on the line, the GymHawks are ready to bring their yearlong mission to fruition.
“The team can feel the excitement building around them,” said Libby. “They have put themselves in a position to be in contention for this spot. It has been a long time since it has been realistic to think that we can go.”
“At this point, knowing that we are competing against the best as one of the best in the country is absolutely gratifying for all the work we have put in all season long.”