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 — When the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team takes the floor this weekend at the 2018 NCAA Championships, its season will officially come full circle.
The Hawkeyes will end the 2018 season in the same place they started it — at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. This time, however, the stage will be even bigger… literally.
“This trip is similar to the trips we’ve taken to Chicago this season,” said Iowa head coach JD Reive. “We’re in the same hotel and it’s the same process, but the raised platform at the Pavilion makes it totally different. It’s almost like we’re at a different arena. The show is much better with the podium and it adds to the excitement of the event.”
The platform raises the competition field off of the ground, making it easier for the fans to see. With the championships in Chicago, the Hawkeyes are ready to perform in front of an energized crowd of Hawkeye faithful.
“I’m excited,” said Reive. “The practices have been great, the guys are in good shape, and the venue is awesome. I love being in Chicago and in the Pavilion. I’m expecting a good turn out with a lot of good energy and a lot of Hawkeye fans. We’re ready to go.”
After a disappointing showing at the Big Ten Championships, the Hawkeyes are ready to step out on the mats and show the nation who they are.
“After the Big Ten Championship we had a fire lit under our butts,” said senior Dylan Ellsworth. “We went back in the gym and we did exactly what we did before the Big Ten Championship. We’re coming into the NCAA Championships feeling more relaxed and ready to compete the way we know how.
“We made a lot of improvements on the small mistakes. Going into this weekend, we want to refine that and hit the best routines we can.”
That sentiment is echoed in the team’s goals for the championship.
“Our goal is to go out and hit as many routines as we can,” said Ellsworth. “We know that we can hit 30 routines and that’s our goal. We’re going to hit our sets and do it exactly as we know how. We’re going to do what we’ve been training to do.”
Reive has confidence that Ellsworth and freshman Bennet Huang can help the team achieve its goals.
“Dylan has been awesome,” said Reive. “As a captain and senior, he has a lot of gymnastics he’s doing. He’s stepped in a lot of spots in the lineup in, because we had someone come out or an illness or an injury. Bennet’s been important, too. He has helped fill some of those spots. They’re two strong all-arounders.”
In order to make sure the team is ready to perform on the big stage and achieve their mission, Ellsworth has kept everybody’s spirits up.
“Throughout the season, I aimed to create a positive mentality in the gym, but after the Big Ten Championship, it was even more important that I make sure everyone has a positive attitude and a high confidence level,” said Ellsworth. “Bringing the team’s confidence level back up was important.”
The Hawkeyes will take the stage in Chicago at the UIC Pavilion on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. (CT).