By Jess Westendorf
The No. 8 Iowa men’s gymnastics team looks at the NCAA Championships, held April 21 and April 22, as a chance to prove its skills on the biggest stage in men’s gymnastics.
“Our practices at home leading into this were quite good, and we had one big practice [Wednesday] that went well,” head coach JD Reive said. “The practice was on the podium in the arena, and the guys are excited, and focused, and attentive to what it is we are here to do.”
Iowa was one of 12 teams selected to compete at the NCAA Championships this weekend at the Holleder Center Christl Arena in West Point, New York.
The format will be made up of two qualifying rounds on April 21 and one final round on April 22.
The Hawkeyes will compete in the first session on April 21 against No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 9 California, and No. 12 Navy.
After the second session concludes, the top three teams from each session, the top three all-arounders who are not on a qualifying team, and the top three individuals on each event who are not on a qualifying team will advance to the finals on April 22.
The Hawkeyes did not have a good outing at the Big Ten Championships on April 7-8, finishing sixth. The championships will be a chance for the team to show that it is better than how it finished at the Big Ten Championships.
After reflecting on the results at the Big Ten Championships, Reive hit on the mental aspect of staying grounded and staying focused on the task at hand.
“We wanted to work on not getting lost in the bigger picture of what we are doing and staying focused within the group one routine at a time,” he said. “We got a little ahead of ourselves and in our own heads in that way at the Big Ten Championships, and that clearly did not give us the results we were capable of.”
At the Big Ten Championships, Iowa finished sixth as a team but had five gymnasts move onto the finals on April 8.
Of the five gymnasts who qualified for the finals, four made top-10 finishes.
Senior Cory Paterson led the way for Iowa.
The team captain earned a silver medal on the high bar with a 14.350 and was named second team All Big-Ten. Junior Elijah Parsells (sixth on pommel), redshirt junior Mark Springett (fifth on rings), and senior Andrew Botto (seventh on rings) also joined Paterson on the podium with top-eight finishes.
Paterson has always stepped up to the plate and has done what was asked of him, but as the team prepares for the NCAAs, he has invested himself into leading the team.
“Our seniors have been really good at stepping up this week,” Reive said. “Cory Paterson, I’d say, has stood out over the course of the last week, and he is the captain and has been, but really in this last push, he has stepped up and provided leadership, verbal and by example.”
The team has worked together to get the job done and Reive loves it.
“Everyone plays a role,” he said. “That is one thing I really like about this team is that they are doing a lot of this stuff together, and everyone understands his individual piece. They are managing their responsibilities really well.”
He said the team is focusing on one thing at a time. First is to zone in on the first session and getting to the second day of nationals.
After that, the Hawkeyes will focus on what they need to as a team in the finals.
Reive is proud of the team and the work the gymnasts have put into this season that led them to this opportunity to compete for a championship.
“They are here because they earned it through the hard work and the discipline and what they put in leading up to this point,” he said. “It is very important to trust in that and let what’s supposed to happen, happen. The gymnastics that they are doing has been refined over the entire season, and their job is to go out and do exactly what they know how to do and what they have been doing at practice.”