April 5, 2016
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By MEGAN ROWLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa women’s gymnast Mollie Drenth is no stranger to postseason success. The junior has collected five top 10 finishes and an event title in NCAA Regional competition in the last three years.
Drenth was one of six Hawkeyes selected for competition at the 2014 NCAA Regionals in Minneapolis. The Riverview, Florida, native competed as an event specialist on floor, posting a score of 9.800 to fall just short of qualifying for NCAA Championships.
In 2015, Drenth returned to NCAA Regionals in Auburn, Alabama, with her team by her side. The junior competed in the all-around, posting a score of 39.050 to finish eighth overall. Drenth also paced the team on bars, placing ninth with a score of 9.825. Despite her success, one small mistake on the last event of the day kept her from realizing her NCAA Championship dream.
“I haven’t brought this story up to Mollie since 365 days ago, but I know it sits in the back of her mind,” said UI head coach Larissa Libby. “The last time she was in this situation, we had the same exact rotation. She had the smallest mistake on beam and it cost her going. I know that sat with her for entire year, whether she verbalizes it or not.
“The last thing she wanted to do was make that mistake again in a situation where it would have been so easy for her to advance. I could not be more proud of the reversal that she did.”
This year, Drenth was determined not to make the same mistake again.
“I had a stupid mistake at the beginning of my routine during my mount and I made sure I wasn’t thinking about that this year,” said Drenth. “I wanted to make sure I hit, focused on every detail, and made sure I got the job done. I wanted to do it for my team.”
Third time really is the charm, as Drenth led the way for the Hawkeyes in 2016 NCAA Regional competition in Iowa City on April 2. She finished 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).
Drenth also finished third in the all-around with a score of 39.450 to punch her first ticket to compete in the NCAA Championships. She is Iowa’s first NCAA Championship qualifier since Rebecca Simbhudas and Houry Gebeshian in 2011.
“It is such a privilege,” said Drenth. “It feels awesome that everything clicked. The goal was to go as a team and that’s what I really wanted. But that motivates me even more next year to make it as a team. I am hoping to take back everything I learn from nationals this year and bring it back to my team so that we can make it next year together.”
Drenth will represent the University of Iowa as and individual all-around competitor at 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.