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 MADISON PETERSEN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team is ready to make a run for the Big Ten Championships title Saturday.
The Hawkeyes compete in the evening session of the Big Ten Championships at 7 p.m. (CT) at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois.
The Hawkeyes will face No. 7 Michigan, No. 23 Minnesota, No. 24 Ohio State, Illinois, and Maryland in the evening, while No. 14 Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, and Michigan State will compete in Session I at 2 p.m. (CT).
“I am looking forward to proving our worth at the evening session of the Big Ten Championships,” said Iowa head coach Larissa Libby, the 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year. “The nice thing about the Big Ten postseason is that we are on the same floor as our competitors. We are not competing against the scores that show up around the country from every team in the NCAA.”
The Hawkeyes qualified for the evening session with a second-place finish at the fourth annual Big Five meet on March 17 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Iowa was ranked No. 32 in the nation at the time and recorded a score of 195.125, upsetting No. 23 Minnesota and No. 25 Penn State and defeating Rutgers. No. 7 Michigan won the meet.
“I felt good about what the team did last week to qualify for the night session, because it was tough,” said Libby. “Our rankings were all over the place this season and we were 32nd at the Big Five meet. That in itself is difficult to fight, because you’re fighting a perception. I was proud of how they handled themselves and the adversity.”
The second-place victory helped the Hawkeyes move up in conference rankings. They finished the regular season ranked fourth in the Big Ten. Four GymHawks registered eight top-10 finishes at the Big Five meet to conclude the regular season.
Melissa Zurawski tied her career best on vault with a 9.850, finishing third in the event. The senior has been a leader on the team in her final season, earning four uneven bar titles and two floor titles.
Nikki Youd helped secure the victory by leading the Hawkeyes on beam (9.875, fourth place) and following Zurawski with a fifth-place finish on vault (9.825). The senior has led the Hawkeyes on beam six times this season and has earned four titles.
Junior Nicole Chow earned her second 9.900 of the season on uneven bars to place fourth. Chow has played a significant role this season, moving into the all-around position for the first time in her career. The junior holds Iowa’s season bests on bars (9.900) and beam (9.900) and has earned four beam titles and one all-around title this season.
Sophomore Charlotte Sullivan had the most top-10 finishes in the Big Five Meet. The sophomore placed sixth on floor (9.825) and in the all-around (39.225) and 10th on vault (9.800) and beam (9.825). She owns the most season titles on the team with seven, earning titles on bars, beam, floor, and in the all-around.
On Monday, Youd, Chow, and senior Lanie Snyder capped the regular season with second-team All-Big Ten honors. Snyder owns the team’s season-best on floor with a 9.925 — a mark that ties for 10th-best in program history. The senior has earned a 9.900 or above on floor five times and has earned six floor titles.
BTN will provide live coverage of Session I at 2 p.m. (CT) and Session II at 7 p.m.