May 11, 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 JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It is finals week and the gym in the UI Field House is empty except for junior gymnast Mark Springett, who is already preparing for 2017 following a breakout 2016 season.
A former walk-on, Springett competed in every competition in 2016 on floor, rings, and vault after only appearing in the lineup once the previous two years.
“This has been my most successful year,” Springett said. “I was able to contribute on three events in every meet this year. It was a successful year, and I am happy at how it turned out.”
Springett’s best meet came during the regular season finale in Nebraska on March 20, where he set two career-highs on floor (14.800) and rings (14.700). It took some time, but the coaches saw something in the Dover, Massachusetts, native when he arrived in the fall of 2013.
“We saw his work ethic and his power that could be developed,” UI assistant coach Ben Ketelsen said. “We put him in one meet his freshman year and he hit it, so we knew that he was a guy that would hit his routine if we put him in. But his sophomore year ended in disappointment when he didn’t make it into any lineups.”
Following his injury-plagued sophomore year, the coaches told Springett what he needed to do to break into the lineup over the summer. He listened and took their advice to heart.
“When it comes down to summer training I want to be practical,” Springett said. “I want to be able to add more difficulty to my routines, but not so much that I don’t have the potential to do it. It’s about training smarter.”
The smarter training also involves narrowing his focus rather than trying to learn too much at once.
“For my summer training on rings, for example, I spent a lot of time working on dismounts and strength; just two things,” he said. “From there, I have lived by that mentality. I try to learn one or two things over the summer because if you try to do too many skills on too many events, inevitably you are probably only going to learn one and you waste time.”
Springett’s new training style seems to have paid off. He finished his junior season as one of the most consistent gymnasts on the team, hitting on all of his routines except one.
Heading into his final offseason, Springett will be looking to the coaches for more advice as he hopes to take another leap forward in his senior season.
“I attribute a lot of my success to the coaching staff,” Springett said. “They help me out a lot when it comes to focusing on what needs to get done.”