IOWA CITY, Iowa — The No. 33 University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team heads to Toledo, Ohio, to compete at the Big Five Meet with Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Rutgers on Friday evening.
Iowa enters the sixth week of the season with an average score of 195.029 and focused on themselves, “We will be at our best if we do not see what everyone else in the arena is doing, if we notice, we’re not focused,” said Iowa head coach Larissa Libby.
The GymHawks have an overall record of 4-6 and are 1-4 in the Big Ten. Iowa is currently ranked 21st on floor with sophomore Lauren Guerin leading the team with two 9.950s on floor this season.
The GymHawks earned their second-best team score (195.975) of the season on Feb. 14 against Michigan. Sophomores Carina Tolan and Mackenzie Vance, and junior Erin Castle earned career bests in their respective events. Tolan led off on uneven bars scoring a 9.800, Vance bettered her uneven bars best with a 9.775, and Castle earned a 9.800 on beam.
Nebraska enters the Big Five Meet with an overall record of 4-3 and 3-2 in conference action. The Cornhuskers are ranked No. 16, nationally, with an average team score of 196.104. Senior Sierra Hassel ranks in the top 25 of floor, ranked No.16 on floor with an average score of. 9.896 and a season-high score of 9.995 this season.
Ohio State is coming off a tight win against Penn State (195.350-195.150) on Feb. 14. Freshman Ella Hodges earned the title in two events to be named the team’s MVP. The victory lifts the Buckeyes to a 4-3 overall record and 2-3 in conference. Ohio State is No. 27 overall and No.12 on bars, nationally.
Illinois is ranked No. 23 nationally with an average score of 195.450. The Illini have an overall record of 6-4 and 1-4 in the Big Ten. Three of Illinois’ beam lineup recorded 9.900 on Feb. 16 against Michigan State. Illinois’ team beam score of 49.400 is its highest on any event in a meet this season. Junior Nicole Biondi earned her first career vault title with a season-high score of 9.850 and freshman Arayah Simons earned a split floor title with a score of 9.850 at Michigan State.
Rutgers collected four event titles and a total of eight-top 3 finishes in its meet at Maryland on Feb. 16. Freshman Hannah Joyner claimed the all-around and beam title, while senior Shannon Farrel captured the bar title. The Scarlet Knights posted a 194.000 team score. Rutgers is currently 0-4 in the Big Ten with an overall record of 4-6.
Last season Iowa won the Big Five meet with a season-high score of 196.450, Clair Kaji set a career-high on bars with a 9.900 and guided Iowa to the second-highest bar score in program history with a 49.375. “The Big Five is such a fun environment and I feel we are on an upward more consistent path and trying to put it all together at Big Five is our goal” explained junior Erin Castle.