RALEIGH, N.C. – The GymHawks are moving on to the NCAA Raleigh Regional Final.
The 22nd-ranked University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team posted a 196.900 to finish as runner-up in the first session of the NCAA Regional on Thursday at Valvano Arena at Reynolds Coliseum. Iowa overcame a .100 deficit on the final event to advance to the Regional Final for the first time under the current format, which debuted in 2019.
Iowa’s 196.900 is tied for the fourth-best score in program history.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said head coach Larissa Libby. “It was a team effort, everything about it was top down. We weren’t great and we know we have a lot more, but they stayed the course. They didn’t give up on each other and that’s what we needed to do.
“We are aware of how incredible all the teams are that are here. We have always said we wanted to have our time on the same floor, in the same place to see where we measure up. The teams here are really good, but so are we.”
No. 11 Missouri finished first in the session with a 197.150, while No. 6 LSU was third with a 196.575 and NC State was fourth with a 195.700.
Sophomore Adeline Kenlin tallied a pair of top two finishes, tying for first on bars (9.900), while tying for second on the beam (9.950).
The last time the Hawkeyes finished in the top two at an NCAA Regional was in 2004 in the six-team, six-regional format.
The Hawkeyes posted their second-best bar score of the season, finishing with a 49.125 in their first rotation. Kenlin anchored the event, tying a career high 9.900 to share the session title. Junior Allyson Steffensmeier tied for fifth with a 9.850 and sophomore Allison Zuhlke and senior Carina Tolan tied for 11th with 9.825s, tying season-bests. Freshman Marissa Rojas finished with a 9.725 and senior Alex Greenwald had a 9.675.
Iowa matched a season high on beam in the second rotation, posting a 49.275. Kenlin paced the team with a season-high 9.950 to tie for second place. It was her fifth straight 9.900 or higher this season. Senior Bridget Killian scored a 9.875 to tie for fifth and senior Mackenzie Vance tallied a top-10 finish with a season-high 9.850. Junior JerQuavia Henderson (9.825), senior Clair Kaji (9.775) and Rojas (9.250) rounded out the team.
The Hawkeyes posted a 49.275 on their second-to-last rotation to move within .100 of Missouri in second place and .300 behind LSU for the top spot. Senior Lauren Guerin tied for second with a 9.900 – her 11th straight meet with a 9.900 or higher. Kaji and Kenlin tied for eighth with 9.875s, Greenwald posted a 9.825, Killian a 9.800 and Henderson a 9.750.
Iowa closed the meet with a 49.225 on vault then got to watch as LSU and Missouri competed on beam and floor, respectively. Zuhlke and senior Linda Zivat tied for sixth with 9.875 totals. Zuhlke’s score was a career best. Henderson placed eighth with a 9.850, Guerin placed 11th with a 9.825 and sophomore Kendall LaPlante and Killian tied for 17th with 9.800s.
The Hawkeyes will compete in the NCAA Raleigh Regional final on Saturday at 4 p.m. (CT). Missouri and Iowa have secured spots, while the other two teams will come from the quartet of Michigan, UCLA, Maryland and North Carolina.