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 BREANNA KELLOGG|
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team is going back to the basics for the 2018 season.
“We talked about having a mentality that our job is to go and hit routines,” said senior co-captain Austin Hodges. “If we can maintain that mentality throughout the season, we can beat anybody. We need to stick to that mentality because that’s what defines us and our training.”
The Hawkeyes are looking to redefine who they are and what they bring to the floor. A big part of the change is freshman Bennet Huang who believes he and the other three freshmen bring diversity and fresh energy to the team. But the key to every newcomer’s success begins with Iowa’s upperclassmen, specifically Hodges and senior co-captain Dylan Ellsworth.
“Our senior leadership is on point,” said Iowa head coach JD Reive. “They’ve done a wonderful job of bringing in a talented group of freshmen who will be contributing quite a bit to the team score. It’s been fun to see them get pulled in immediately and have a role and a responsibility. You will see continuity from the freshman class all the way up to the senior class. If we do that right, it will make us really competitive.”
Iowa returns five sophomores, all of whom Reive believes will make a substantial impact this season.
“The sophomore class is 10 times better this year,” said Reive. “As you go up the ranks in each of the classes, we get a little bit more experience from the previous season and a little more hunger from the overall team drive. Our freshman and sophomore classes are our biggest chunks.
“They’re all going to play, sophomores specifically, a large role across the board in all of our lineups. We’ve got more routines out of them. They are stronger, their fitness level is more adept, they have more difficulty, and they have been doing it since April. I expect quite a bit out of them.”
With a team built of talented newcomers, experienced veterans, and outstanding senior leadership, the Hawkeyes aim for a top-three finish in the Big Ten Conference and a trip to the finals at the NCAA Championships.
“We want everyone to know that Iowa is not a team that’s going to get pushed aside,” said Ellsworth. “We don’t want people to think we’re going to be a fifth-place team like we’ve been in the last few years. We want them to realize right away that we’re here to compete and win.”