Metcalf, Kaji at NCAA Championships

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Senior Angel Metcalf and freshman Clair Kaji of the University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team will finish their season as individual competitors at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis on April 14. Metcalf will compete in the all-around, while Kaji will compete as an event specialist on beam.
37607Although disappointed the Hawkeyes did not advance as a team, both Metcalf and Kaji are excited for each other as they continue to represent Iowa on their journey to nationals.
“I’m happy to be advancing as an individual and I’m honored and even happier that my teammate Clair gets to come with me,” said Metcalf.
“I’m just so excited for my teammate Angel,” said Kaji. “She’s the best senior ever. To know that I’m going to nationals is very exciting. Going with a senior is nice, because I know she will be helpful in guiding.”
The pair finished at the top of the podium on at the NCAA Regional competition in Champaign, Illinois, to qualify for nationals.
Both gymnasts recorded career-highs of 9.950, joining a list of only three other GymHawks (including senior Mollie Drenth) to tie the secondbest score in Iowa history. Metcalf and Kaji led Iowa to a record-breaking beam rotation of 49.600, with five Hawkeyes finishing in the top six.
Metcalf qualified as an all-arounder after finishing third with a score of 39.300, behind Oregon State’s Kaytianna McMillan and UCLA’s Madison Kocian. While both Metcalf and Kaji are excited to represent Iowa at the NCAA Championships as individuals, they are disappointed to leave their team behind.
“I’m super excited and so proud to represent Iowa, but it’s not about me. It’s about my team,” said Metcalf. “I think we’ve had one of the best seasons that Iowa has ever had. To close out our season with that 49.6 on beam was incredible. I won’t even remember that I made it to nationals when I’m 45, but I’ll always remember that beam rotation.”
In the end, the pair recognizes that they have helped the nation view Iowa as a national contender. This, even more than a trip to nationals, is what is important to the duo.
Kaji and Metcalf hope the GymHawks take this momentum into the offseason to prepare for the years to come.
“I think this is just the beginning,” said Kaji. “We started strong this season and we’ve kept that momentum going throughout the rest of the season. Now we’re going to keep building on this season even more over the next few years.”
“I think it’s taken the last few years to build a name for ourselves,” said Metcalf. “As a team, I think we’ve done that. We accomplished our mission, which was to be seen as a national contender and a legitimate contender within the NCAA.
“We were so close at regionals. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen and that’s OK, but I would watch out for Iowa next year. Good luck to anyone who faces us, because I wouldn’t want to go against us next year. I’m proud and happy to have been teammates with all of these girls. I’m proud of everything we accomplished this year.”