April 2, 2016
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team capped it’s season in NCAA Regional action inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena Saturday afternoon. Three senior GymHawks — Alie Glover, Opua Calucag, and Johanny Sotillo — ended their collegiate careers with a fourth place regional finish and a score of 195.450.
“We have prepared our team all year for this,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “You could be at your best and still not make it. I am so thankful that we won the back half of the meet. If we continued the way we were in the first half of the meet, it would have left a bad taste in our mouths.
“We are going to be back next year. We will figure out those first two events and we will be dangerous. We won’t be in this situation again and it is a far cry from where we finished last year. What we did today sends a strong message of where our team will be in the future.”
Nine GymHawks collected a total of 17 top 25 finishes. Junior Mollie Drenth led the way for the Hawkeyes, finishing at the top of the podium on beam (9.900), fourth on bars (9.900), seventh on vault (9.825), and 13th on floor (9.825).
After a rough start on floor (48.400) and vault (48.525), the GymHawks came out of the locker room following a bye as a new team. Six stuck landings led the Hawkeyes to a 49.425 team score on bars — their highest score of the season by 0.175. Drenth and junior Angel Metcalf paced the team on the event, each earning a 9.900 to tie for fourth place.
The GymHawks ended the regional on beam, where they posted the third highest beam score in the competition field (49.100). Drenth earned her eighth beam title of the season with a 9.900. Glover followed closely behind her teammate, posting a 9.875 to tie for sixth place.
No. 1 Oklahoma won the meet, totaling a 197.575. No. 12 Nebraska earned second (196.550), followed by No. 13 Arkansas (195.500), No. 19 Iowa (195.450), Central Michigan (194.675), and Kent State (194.525).
The top two teams, Oklahoma and Nebraska, continue on to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 15-16. The event is hosted by Texas Woman’s University and the Knight Eady Sports Group.
Drenth finished third in the all-around with a score of 39.450. Since the first and second place competitors — Chayse Capps (39.550) and Keeley Kmieciak (39.475) — advance with Oklahoma, Drenth advances to the NCAA Championship as an individual, the first championship appearance of her career.
At the conclusion of the regional meet, Libby was named the NCAA North Central Region Coach of the Year. Assistant coaches Jennifer Green and Caleb Phillips were also honored, earning NCAA North Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year recognition. The GymHawks coaching staff led the team to a 10-win season and a No. 19 ranking, the program’s first top 20 ranking since 2011.