On To Columbus

April 14, 2016

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.


IOWA CITY, Iowa — With one competition remaining on its 2016 schedule, the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team looks to cement itself as yearly contenders for the NCAA Championship by qualifying for its third team finals appearance in four years.

The Hawkeyes travel to Columbus, Ohio, for the NCAA Championships on April 15-16. Iowa is looking to make its third trip to Columbus its best through focus and determination.

“We came off the conference meet excited about what we are capable of doing,” said UI head coach JD Reive. “It has been very focused in the gym. We know exactly what needs to be done, what routines are crucial, what the momentum and rhythm need to be and I have seen them come in committed to that.”

The best examples are seniors Matt Loochtan and Jack Boyle. Loochtan, who was named first-team All-Big Ten at the Big Ten Championships, believes that the first postseason competition was just what the team needed to take the next step.

“Big Tens was a key meet for us,” Loochtan said. “We showed that we can hit our sets. Going into NCAAs, we need to keep working hard.”

Going back to Columbus brings familiarity. Iowa earned a fifth place finish at the Big Ten Championships just two weeks ago.

“We know the travel, the timetables… we know everything,” Reive said. “Even the meet scheduling is almost identical. We have been through it; we had a practice run and it just happened to be the Big Ten Championships. Now we are going back for the NCAA Championships.”

Iowa’s seventh place standing following the Big Ten Championships qualified the team for the second session at the NCAA Championships. The Hawkeyes will compete against Stanford, Ohio State, Illinois, Air Force, and Michigan.

“The second session is a good session to be in and we like that later evening meet,” Reive said. “The big thing is that the teams there are ones we have competed with and seen before. We need to go in and do our job and have Iowa’s meet.”

For the underclassmen, the postseason experience is valuable because of the intensity and pressure surrounding each routine. Sophomore Austin Hodges is coming off his second straight event finals at the Big Ten Championships and is looking to add to his experience at NCAAs.

“Event finals is a dream to compete in and I am happy to be in it two years in a row,” Hodges said. “I didn’t compete on high bar last year. It’s more to think about, which is good because if I focus on pommel horse too much, I get in my head. Having an extra event helps me relax and get into the flow of the meet.”

The Hawkeyes compete in Session II on April 15 at 6 p.m. (CT) inside St. John Arena.