University of Iowa men’s gymnastics senior Dylan Ellsworth, sophomore Nick Merryman, and freshman Bennet Huang head to Las Vegas for the annual Winter Cup Challenge this week. Competition will run from February 15-17 with prelims beginning on Feb. 15. Session one begins at 3 p.m. (CT) followed by session two at 8:30 p.m. (CT). Finals will take place on Feb. 17 at 9:15 p.m. (CT).
WHY WINTER CUP
Performances at the 2018 Winter Cup Challenge help determine the 12 men selected to the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team through the 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston on August 16-19.
Following the two-day competition, the top six ranked all-around athletes automatically qualify for the 2018 Senior National Team. The Men’s Program Committee selects six more gymnasts from participants at the Winter Cup Challenge or from petitions to the team.
Fans can watch the meet online through WinterCup.com. They can also follow along with live stats. Links are available on the Iowa men’s gymnastics schedule page at hawkeyesports.com. Fans can also follow along with live updates on Twitter (@mensgymiowa) and Facebook (/iowamensgymnastics).
LAST TIME OUT
- The Hawkeyes recorded their best team score of the season as they fell to Oklahoma, 418.850-402.850, on Feb. 10.
- Iowa recorded eight individual career-high scores, three season-best scores, and three team-best scores.
- Senior Austin Hodges won the pommel horse title with a 14.350.
- Freshman Bennet Huang won the all-around crown with a 77.850.
IN THE RANKINGS
The Hawkeyes are ranked 10th on RoadtoNationals.com, with a 400.267 team average.
AROUND THE NATION
The Hawkeyes are ranked sixth nationally on pommel horse (67.017), eighth on high bar (65.717), and ninth on parallel bars (65.767) and vault (69.767).
POMMEL HORSE DOMINANCE
- Hodges is ranked fifth with a 14.417 National Qualifying Average and a season-high 14.700 (Windy City Invite, 1/13).
- Merryman is ranked 10th with a 13.833 NQA and a season-high 14.200 (Windy City Invite, 1/13).
- Senior Elijah Parsells is ranked 16th with a 13.633 NQA and a season-high 13.900 (UIC/Stanford, 1/21).
- Senior Kevin Johnson is ranked 18th with a 13.550 NQA and a season-high 13.750 (Minnesota, 1/27).
Huang is ranked seventh in the all-around with a 78.200 NQA and season-high 79.450 (Illinois, 2/3). He is also ranked 13th on floor with a 14.083 NQA and a season-high 14.250 (UIC/Stanford, 1/21).
HAWKEYES IN THE RANKING
- Ellsworth is ranked 12th on vault with a 14.400 NQA and a season-high 14.550 (Windy City Invite, 1/13).
- Hodges is ranked 15th on parallel bars with a 13.833 NQA and a season-high 14.250 (Windy City Invite, 1/13).
- Junior Rogelio Vazquez is ranked 17th on high bar with a 13.850 NQA and a season-high 13.850 (Oklahoma, 2/10).
- Hodges earned the nation’s fifth-highest pommel horse score (14.700) at the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 13.
- Merryman notched the nation’s 10th-highest pommel horse score (14.200) at the Windy City Invitational.
- Huang recorded the nation’s seventh-highest all-around score (79.450) against Illinois on Feb. 3.
- Iowa has won 11 event titles this season — three on parallel bars, three pommel horse, two in the all-around, and one on floor, rings, and vault.
- Hodges and Huang have won multiple event titles for the Hawkeyes. Hodges has four event titles — two on parallel bars and pommel. Huang has three titles — two in the all-around and one on floor.
HAWKEYE NEWCOMERS SEASON-HIGHS
- Chung placed fifth on vault with a season-high 14.150 and notched a season-high 13.300 on rings.
- Huang notched a season-high 14.000 and tied for third on pommel horse.
- Taylor earned a season-high 13.950 and tied for ninth on vault.
- Tommasone recorded a season-high 12.800 on pommel horse.
TWO HAWKEYES NAMED TO WATCH LIST
Junior Rogelio Vazquez and freshman Bennet Huang were named to the 2018 Big Ten Men’s Gymnasts to Watch list, the conference office announced Dec. 14.
- Vazquez notched a season-best 13.850 and finished fourth on high bar.
- Huang, one of three freshmen on the list, won the all-around crown with a 77.850. He notched a career-high 14.000 and tied for third on pommel horse, finished fourth on floor (14.100), and tied for ninth-place on vault (13.950).
Iowa returns 12-of-17 gymnasts from last season. Senior Austin Hodges won the pommel horse title at Oklahoma on Feb. 10.
The 2018 men’s gymnastics team breaks down into one redshirt senior, three seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, and four freshmen.
FOLLOW THE HAWKEYES
For an inside look at the Iowa men’s gymnastics program and access to exclusive coverage, “like” Iowa Men’s Gymnastics on Facebook and follow @mensgymiowa on Twitter and @iowamgym on Instagram.
The Hawkeyes host No. 3 Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 23. The meet is scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. (CT) on BTN.