By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — There was elation, then anger when the University of Iowa men’s gymnastics team saw the final team standings at the 2021 Big Ten Championships.
The excitement stemmed from the Hawkeyes finishing with a score of 397.700 to notch a third-place finish — the highest for the program since 2006. The fire came from the team stumbling on its final two events to move down one spot in the standings.
“We came into this meet with a different feel,” said head coach JD Reive. “The guys were ready to go from the first practice and all the way through. We had this wonderful finish, but we were angry at the end of the meet.
“We fell five times between high bar and parallel bars, so we could have been second by five points. Overall, we did our job in the arena and it was a lot of fun.”
The Hawkeyes had a Big Ten-best four gymnasts garner All-Big Ten recognition, honors which are handed out based on performance at the meet. Senior Bennet Huang was a first-team honoree after finishing fourth in all-around, while juniors Evan Davis, Stewart Brown and Peyton Hobson were second-team selections.
Davis earned his distinction after tying for second on floor with a career-best and school record score of 14.600. Brown garnered second-team honors after placing third on parallel bars, and Hobson received the accolade after tying for second on rings.
“When we finished the meet, we were like, ‘Wow,’” said Reive. “We had the most All-Big Ten honorees, we got third and had the highest finish in 15 years. We went back to gymnastics and were doing what we wanted to do.”
With all the adversity the team has faced, the finish was a statement to the team’s determination to write its final chapter.
“We have worked hard in making the season go the way we wanted,” said Reive. “To see that come together in the postseason was amazing. I give 100 percent of that credit to the guys for buying into what we asked them to do.”
Now Reive’s attention turns to the NCAA Championships where the Hawkeyes enter the competition with a newfound confidence following the Big Ten showing.
“We haven’t had this to lean on where we’ve had a strong Big Ten performance,” said Reive. “We can use this to catapult us into the NCAA meet.
“The cool thing is we’re always the underdog. We have been doing this all season and our job is to go there and finish top three the first day to get into the team finals. We beat every team in the Big Ten this season except Michigan, so we’re fully capable.
“It’s great for our guys to know that we’re one of the top teams in the Big Ten and we can do this.”
The NCAA Championships are April 16-17 at the Maturi Pavillion in Minneapolis.