By ASHLYNN BAUER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Over the last 19 years — nearly two decades — a tradition has been upheld by the Iowa Gymnastics program. It has become a standard etched into the program — the standard of making it to the NCAA Regionals.
Head coach Larissa Libby has coached for Iowa Gymnastics for 19 years, and 15 years as the head coach. For 19 straight seasons, Iowa Gymnastics has been represented at an NCAA Regional.
This year, the road to post-season has been more gratifying than others.
“This qualification was one of the premier moments in my coaching career here for 19 years. It was almost better than when we qualified for nationals, because it was so hard and a long road for us,” head Coach Larissa Libby said. “We are blessed that the back half of the season was better than the first half. Anybody will tell you that I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason,”
That mentality held true on March 25 when the GymHawks qualified for the NCAA Corvallis Regional.
“We talked about it on the way home from Big Tens and what each place would bring for us,” Libby said. “There was a great thing in every place for us.”
The best advantage about Corvallis for Iowa is that it’s something the team has seen before – three weeks ago to be exact.
“We are really excited to go back to Corvallis. It’s nice to go back to somewhere where you’ve already competed,” freshman Jax Kranitz said. “We already know what it’s like, and it gives us an edge.”
Although the GymHawks have already competed in Corvallis, they are looking to do better than the last time they were there.
“We didn’t do overly great there, which I like,” Libby said. “Now, we are going back with a different outlook, not just to go but to get after it.”
The get-after-it mindset stems all the way from Libby down to her freshman that are competing in their first regional competition.
“We expect to win on Thursday, and expect to win on Friday to get to Saturday. We just expect that out of ourselves,” freshman Lauren Guerin said.
Guerin has scored six 9.900’s on floor this year, and was named second-team All-Big Ten.
Another second team All-Big Ten member, senior Nicole Chow, has the utmost confidence in her team as well.
“We’ve been preparing all season. We’ve been progressively getting better as we go, and everyone knows their role. We’re a well-oiled machine, and we are ready to have fun and do well,” Chow said.
When some GymHawks enter the Gill Coliseum this Friday, they will be upholding a standard that has existed since they were born.
“We want to put it all out there every time we perform, it could be our last chance this season. It makes us think, less time to try to be perfect and nail all the details and really go for it,” Kranitz said.
No. 32 Iowa faces No. 33 Arizona on Thursday April 4 at 5 p.m. (CT) in hopes of advancing to round two of the Corvallis Regional.